A Northwestern University joint initiative of Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science. Northwestern University joint initiative of Medill & McCormick School of Engineering.
Blog: May 2013

Mohammed Haddad on his journey from computer science to Al Jazeera data driven storyteller

Mohommed Haddad

I first met Mohamed Haddad two years ago at a media conference in Doha, the purpose of which was to discuss the ways in which technology was affecting media. At the time, few people had a better view of those changes than Haddad. The “Arab Spring” was in full bloom and Haddad’s employer, Al Jazeera, was at the center of it covering revolutions relentlessly as country after country faced demonstrations — Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and more. With few reporters on the ground in some of these countries, networks often relied on new technology — specifically social media — to get first-person accounts. Here, Haddad talks about working at Al Jazeera during the revolutions and his transition from general technologist to editorial technologist.

Beyond spreadsheets for CAR reporters: Algorithms

The lightning talks at NICAR are often the highlight of the computer-assisted reporting conference, but Chase Davis (who recently did a Q&A with us) really grabbed my attention with his “Five Algorithms in Five Minutes” talk, complete with a mic drop. So much so, that three months later I’m still thinking about it and all of the ways that I might put these algorithms to use. NICAR coincided with my internship at The

Claudia Núñez on Chicago Migrahack, hackathons and tolerance

Claudia Núñez

Propelled by a journalist’s skepticism, Claudia Nuñez questioned the data driving front page New York Times and decided she needed to develop her own analysis skills. Shortly after, she earned a John S. Knight Journalism fellowship, where she developed RDataVox, an online data visualization network for ethnic media journalists and non-profit organizations. Last December in Los Angeles, Nuñez organized a large scale hackathon on the topic of immigration. Now, working with the Institute for Justice in Journalism, she is organizing a follow-up event, the Chicago Migrahack. In advance of the event, we asked her a few questions.

National Day of Civic Hacking Comes to Chicago

National Day of Civic Hacking

Hackers, unite! For the first time, civic hackers across the nation will come together to participate in one of the largest collaborative hacking projects, National Day of Civic Hacking. The initial idea came from the White House’s desire to establish programming that increased government transparency. They reached out to hacking organizations like SecondMuse to help organize hackathon events across the country. These events will use data released by federal agencies to build useful

Chase Davis on data-driven decision making for news projects

Chase Davis

If a model exists for the type of young journalist everyone’s talking about and pining for these days, Chase Davis is probably it. He graduated from the University of Missouri in 2006 with a journalism degree and some solid reporting chops thanks to time at the Boston Globe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and a few other name-brand newspapers. But then he went and made a name for himself by applying machine learning, natural language processing, and statistics to his work. Check out his Five Algorithms in Five Minutes talk at this year’s NICAR. He served as director of technology at the Center for Investigative Reporting, helped to build and launch the Texas Tribune, and recently took a job as assistant editor for interactive news at The New York Times. Basically, he’s a guy worth paying attention to…

Travis Swicegood’s real world data lessons from Texas Tribune

travis swicegood

Travis Swicegood, director of technology at  Texas Tribune, spoke this week at the latest Hacks/Hackers Chicago Meet-up about the challenges of working with public data — real world data, as Swicegood calls it. There are plenty of challenges in collecting, managing and presenting data from a state the size of Texas — 26 million people, 254 counties, five major cities and a gross state economy of $1.2 trillion. Swicegood shared just a few