Charles Berret is a Ph.D. candidate in Communications at Columbia and a fellow at the Brown Institute for Media Innovation. Charles primarily studies media history, focusing on past narratives of novelty and invention as sources of insight into contemporary media, technology, and culture.
His dissertation tracks the emergence of ‟signal and noise” as a framework to describe communication and its sources of failure, beginning with the early days of radio and culminating in the invention of modern cryptography.
Other recent research projects have focused on algorithmic transparency, data-driven storytelling, digital typography, and tools that journalists use to protect their sources.
Charles is also an avid programmer and was awarded a Magic Grant by the Brown Institute in 2014. That year, his team built SearchLight, a tool to help investigative journalists pinpoint cases of algorithmic bias in search engine results and advertisements.
As a teacher, Charles focuses on the development of digital literacies in journalism and other fields that have traditionally centered on print culture. His teaching is premised on the belief that coding, much like writing, is a tool for thinking and for clarifying our ideas.
In addition to the Brown Institute, Charles’s research has been funded by the Knight Foundation and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. His scholarly work has been published in the Journal of Visual Culture and the Journal of Communication Inquiry.