Past Event

Visual Investigation in Journalism: Which Images Should We Trust?

April 17, 2024
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
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East Gallery, Maison Française, Buell Hall
Campus security decided to restrict campus access to Columbia ID holders only for the entire week. If you do not have a Columbia ID, our Staff will meet you at the 116th/Broadway gate between 5:15-5:50 PM to escort non-affiliates to the Maison Francaise. Please arrive on time.

A Discussion with Asia Balluffier, Pooja Chaudhuri, and Santiago Lyon, moderated by Mounir Ibrahim

Often portrayed as a threat to truthful information, the international circulation of images through social media has also become a valuable resource for investigative journalism. During ongoing wars and conflicts, image analysis, satellite pictures, geolocation, and videos taken by civilians and militaries allow journalists to complement field reporting with a technical approach. Far from breaking news speed, footage analysis takes many hours of work before reconstructing a detailed timeline of events and breaking down official claims. In explanatory videos, visual investigation units show their reporting process and the facts discovered. Could this be a partial answer to misinformation and mistrust in the media?  

Increasingly, international newsrooms are investing in this type of reporting. In 2017, the New York Times created its Visual Investigation unit and won four Pulitzer prizes since then. Two years later, Le Monde founded its unit, initially to report on alleged police violence during the 2019 protests. Since then, the unit has worked on Uighurs' treatment by the Chinese government, Russian mercenaries, hospital bombings in the Gaza Strip, and many other subjects. 

This panel examines visual investigation in journalism today: what counts as evidence, and how can it be used in news reporting? French and American journalists will explore how newsrooms find ways to use new technologies and analyze visual evidence to inform their reporting.


Asia Balluffier is a journalist and head of visual investigations at Le Monde. The visual investigations unit was created in 2019 during the Yellow Vest movement, when Le Monde realized the power of OSINT through collecting, verifying images, and reconstructing scenes of police violence. Now its visual investigations are primarily focused on international crises and human rights violations.

Pooja Chaudhuri is a researcher and trainer at Bellingcat, where she uses open source methods to report on disinformation, far-right online networks, and human rights. She previously was an editor at Indian fact-checking outlet Alt News. Pooja graduated from the Columbia Journalism School with an MS in Data Journalism.

Santiago Lyon is the Head of Advocacy and Education for the Adobe-led Content Authenticity Initiative, working to combat misinformation through digital content provenance. He has more than 35 years of experience in photography as an award-winning photojournalist, photo editor, media executive and educator, and won multiple photojournalism awards for his work between 1989 and 1999 when he photographed nine wars on four continents. In 2003 and 2004, he was a Nieman Fellow in journalism at Harvard University before being named VP/Director of Photography at the Associated Press, a position he held until 2016. Under his direction the AP won three Pulitzer Prizes for photography as well as multiple other major photojournalism awards around the world. He was Chair of the Jury for the 2013 World Press Photo contest. He also teaches at the International Center of Photography in New York.

Mounir Ibrahim (moderator) is the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Impact for Truepic, an award-winning technology company specializing in provenance and image authenticity. From 2009 to 2017, Mounir was a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State and a key Syria adviser to various ambassadors and presidential cabinet members. Mounir served in Damascus, Washington, Istanbul, Bogota, and New York at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Mounir is an adjunct professor at Columbia University, TEDx speaker, and term member with the Council on Foreign Relations, and his writing has been featured by the Wall Street Journal, World Economic Forum, and The Hill

Event organized by the Columbia Maison Française and co-sponsored by Le Monde and Columbia Global Centers | Paris.

Journalism and Crisis: April 15-17, 2024

This event is presented as part of a series of events on Journalism and Crisis that facilitates discussions about some of the most critical questions facing journalists and journalism today, particularly in an international context. Columbia Global Centers | Paris, Le Monde, and the Columbia Maison Française, invite you to these vital conversations, held in New York City from April 15 to 17, 2024. The full program of events is listed here.

Columbia Global Centers | Paris addresses pressing global issues that are at the forefront of international education and research: agency and gender; climate and the environment; critical dialogues for just societies; encounters in the arts; and health and medical science.

Le Monde is France’s leading newspaper. It has provided news coverage, unique perspectives and in-depth analysis to francophone readers all around the world since 1944. Le Monde in English, founded in 2022, brings the best of our award-winning journalism from France, Europe and all around the world, to anglophones.

For more than a century, the Columbia Maison Française has been a leader in fostering intellectual and cultural exchange between the United States and France, Europe, and the French-speaking world.