November 16, 2020

Reading the Symbols of Political Movements: Understanding the Media Challenge of Identity Signatures, Social Telegraphing, and Malicious Branding

Photo: Mark Peterson/Redux

A Reading the Pictures Salon in partnership with the Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism and the Data Science Institute’s Center for Data, Media and Society, co-creators (with Professor of Journalism Nina Berman and the DVMM Lab at Columbia’s School of Engineering) of the VizPol tool.

Many political activists see visual news coverage as an opportunity. Beyond its reporting function, visual media also serves as a performative space and a signaling platform for a wide range of political movements. The goal of this Salon is to better understand the key investigative and editorial challenges surrounding the visual identity of social and activist groups, and the use of their symbols for branding, outreach, and manipulation. We will discuss how this applies to a broad spectrum of political movements, including right-wing paramilitary and anti-fascist groups, as well as other types of organizations.

Moderator: Michael Shaw, Publisher, Reading the Pictures


Leslie A. Hahner, Professor of Communication, Baylor University. Co-Author, “Make America Meme Again: The Rhetoric of the Alt-Right.”

Ishaan Jhaveri, Research Fellow, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University.

Brian Palmer, Peabody Award-winning journalist and documentary photographer based in Richmond, Virginia.

Judy Walgren, Michigan State University School of Journalism Associate Director & Professor of Practice, Photojournalism and New Media. Former Director of Photography, San Francisco Chronicle, Pulitzer-Prize in International Reporting.

Date: Thursday, December 10th, 6.30pm-8pm EST

Where: Zoom

Link to register:


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