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: March 2016

Steve Tarzia joins Knight Lab as a professional fellow

Last week Knight Lab welcomed Steve Tarzia as a new professional fellow. During his fellowship, under a program supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Tarzia will work to make a gun violence site he founded more sustainable. Tarzia, who has a Ph.D. in computer science and has worked on development teams at several Chicago companies, launched GunMemorial.org in December and will work at Knight Lab for the next three

A quick look at recommendation engines and how the New York Times makes recommendations

A recent prediction that algorithmic curation would be one of the major trends of 2016 got me thinking about news recommendation engines. I’ve always been curious about the technology so I recently started digging into what makes them work and realized there is a whole lot to learn. But a little research and conversation with a newsroom technologist at New York Times helped me to understand how they work. First you should know

Transforming type: The changing landscape of digital type design and typography

I’ve been involved in print design since my high school days of working on the school newsmagazine. It’s where I got my start learning the basics of design, layout, typography, and it’s what became the foundation for all my other design-related ventures. Only within the past school year, however, have I started getting into type design and studying typefaces. Type is a very nuanced field to get into—there’s a lot of history to

Paying dinosaurs: Lessons learned from many hacky deployments with Heroku

As a hobby developer and computer science student, I find myself using Heroku to release many of my projects. Heroku is a cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) business that provides server power for developers, and I have taken recently been taking advantage of their Free and Hobby plans. While Heroku offers a simple, cheap solution to developers, it’s not perfect. The documentation isn’t always clear and there are many small hurdles that

NICAR16: They’re coming for us: How platforms shape the way we tell stories

One of the recurring themes of NICAR was how graphics reporters and news apps developers are grappling with new distribution platforms like Facebook Instant Articles, Google AMP and even Snapchat. There is no one canonical version of a graphic. Instead, you might create different versions of it for different platforms: a fancy D3 interaction for the mobile web, a fun GIF for Twitter and a static image for Facebook Instant Articles. One of

NICAR16: Tackling federal election campaign finance data

In an election year, NICAR was bound to feature plenty of election-themed sessions.One of the more interesting that I caught was “Election: Reverse-engineering campaign finance stories,” in which Aaron Bycoffe, Carrie Levine, and Derek Willis walked the audience through the steps they took to break various campaign finance stories. Using an open-source parser to find small donations In quarterly filings with the Federal Election Commission, candidates must declare how much they’ve raised and