NEW YORK –​​ The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University today announced that Jelani Cobb, the Dean of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, and Deb Roy, a Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT and director of the MIT Center for Constructive Communication, will join the Institute’s Board.

“Over the course of the past six years, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University has fostered a growing community of scholars, litigators, and practitioners grappling with emerging questions around free speech and a free press in this digital age,” said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger, who is also chair of the Knight Institute’s board. “I could not be more pleased to welcome Dean Cobb and Professor Roy to this community and to this board. I know we will all benefit tremendously from their expertise, experience, and judgment.”

The Knight Institute was established by Columbia University and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in 2016 to defend the freedoms of speech and the press in the digital age through strategic litigation, research, and public education. The Institute promotes a system of free expression that is open and inclusive, broadens and elevates public discourse, and that fosters creativity, accountability, and effective self-government.

“Both Dean Cobb and Professor Roy have thought very deeply about the work that ‘free speech’ does, and should do, in our society,” said Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute’s executive director. “I’m thrilled to have the chance to work with them.”

Jelani Cobb joined the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism faculty in 2016 and became dean in 2022. He has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2015. He received a Peabody Award for his 2020 PBS Frontline film “Whose Vote Counts?” and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary in 2018. He has also been a political analyst for MSNBC since 2019.

Deb Roy is Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT where he directs the MIT Center for Constructive Communication. He leads research in applied machine learning and human-machine system design with applications in learning and constructive dialogue, and for mapping and analyzing large scale media ecosystems. He is also co-founder and CEO of nonprofit social technology company Cortico.

The Institute’s current board includes Columbia University President Lee Bollinger; Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen; Hearst Chief Legal Office Eve Burton; Dean Emeritus at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Nicholas Lemann; Columbia Law School Dean Gillian Lester; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher Partner Theodore Olson; and Columbia Senior Vice President Gerald Rosberg. Read more about the board here.

Read more about Dr. Cobb here.

Read more about Dr. Roy here.

For more information, please contact Adriana Lamirande,