By Ishaan Jhaveri

This piece first appeared on the Tow Center for Digital Journalism’s Medium page on February 24th, 2021.

At the Save America Rally on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C., a white flag printed with a bright green pine tree, reading the words, “An Appeal to Heaven,” flew alongside popular right-wing flags. In the crowds of thousands, flags such the yellow Gadsden (“Don’t Tread on Me”) and the Revolutionary War-era Betsy Ross flag (a symbol that has been used in racist contexts) stood out amidst scores of Trump 2020 and traditional American flags.

Source: Nina Berman

But the Pine Tree flag had…


By Ishaan Jhaveri

This piece first appeared on the Tow Center for Digital Journalism’s Medium page on November 2nd, 2020.

On October 24, a Trump rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin, featured a very noticeable backdrop: flying prominently behind the President as he addressed thousands of supporters was not the American flag, but the black, white and blue “Thin Blue Line” flag, a symbol of the pro-police Blue Lives Matter movement.

Trump waving at supporters at a campaign rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin on October 24th, 2020 (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the Marshall Project, “Those who fly the…


By Ishaan Jhaveri

For over a year, a multidisciplinary team of researchers at Columbia’s Journalism and Engineering schools have been developing an app called VizPol which helps photographers and reporters recognize and classify symbols they see at political events. In developing this tool, we have paid keen attention to symbols appearing on tattoos, hats, t-shirts, flags, and elsewhere, at recent demonstrations and protests across the country.

This is the second in our series of weekly posts discussing symbols at recent political events. Our goal is to highlight popular symbols, call for information about new or unfamiliar symbols, and provide journalists…


By Ishaan Jhaveri

For over a year, a multidisciplinary team of researchers at Columbia’s Journalism and Engineering schools have been developing an app called VizPol which helps photographers and reporters recognize and classify symbols they see at political events. In developing this tool, we have paid keen attention to symbols appearing on tattoos, hats, t-shirts, flags, and elsewhere, at recent demonstrations and protests across the country.

Starting today, we will be publishing short weekly posts on VizPol’s Medium page discussing symbols at recent political events. Our goal is to highlight popular symbols, call for information about new or unfamiliar symbols…


Is VizPol available to the general public?

No. At this point, VizPol is available only to select journalists and researchers who are working on related projects (e.g. covering in-person events, or researching political representation and imagery). If this describes your work and you would like a mobile account for VizPol, please fill out this form. If you are a journalist, you will be asked to submit a link to an online portfolio/social media profile, as well as links to two works of journalism that have been published by independent news organizations. If you are a researcher, you will be asked to provide a link to an institutional…


VizPol is an app designed to provide journalists with contextual information about unfamiliar graphic symbols they may encounter during field reporting, especially during live events, protests, and rallies. By offering journalists some additional information about these symbols (or just alerting them to the fact that a symbol may have broader political connotations) the VizPol app supports more accurate, effective reporting on an increasingly complex political landscape.

Background

VizPol began as the Political Visual Literacy Project in the spring of 2019 as a research collaboration among faculty and researchers at Columbia Journalism School, the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, and the Digital…

Vizpol Research

A collaborative research project at Columbia University building apps to help journalists identify unfamiliar political symbols in the field.

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