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.


Knight Lab hosts, attends and sponsors a number of events around the country each year. Sometimes we organize the whole thing, sometimes we’re enthusiastic participants. Join or follow our Facebook page for the very latest on events. Members of the Northwestern community are also invited to join our Google Group for updates.


In our What the Heck is …? series, you’ll get a chance to try new technologies and be part of a conversation about the cultural implications they may have.

What the Heck is VR?
Strap on a headset and see what all the buzz is about, and then stick around for a conversation about how VR is changing the ways we interact with computers and consume media.
Date: Tues, January 17, 2017
Time: 3-4 pm
Location: the Device Lab (inside Knight Lab), Fisk 109
RSVP required

What the Heck is Alexa?
Why Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon (among others) are obsessed with voice control, and what that means for user interfaces of the future.
Date: Weds, February 1, 2017
Time: 3-4 pm
Location: the Device Lab (inside Knight Lab), Fisk 109
RSVP required

What the Heck is Podcasting?
Podcasting is gradually finding its way to the mainstream, but still has a way to go. We’ll talk about the challenges of finding what to listen to and about what it takes to make your own podcast.
Date: Weds, February 15, 2017
Time: 3-4 pm
Location: the Device Lab (inside Knight Lab), Fisk 109
RSVP required

What the Heck are Bots?
Instead of R2D2 and BB-8, most of the bots people talk about these days don’t have a body. Come “talk” to some “intelligent agents” and discuss what their value might be.
Date: Tues, February 28, 2017
Time: 3-4 pm
Location: the Device Lab (inside Knight Lab), Fisk 109
RSVP required


Ongoing, weekly/monthly events

Student fellow hosted Open Lab hours


Date: Tuesdays throughout the quarter (except holidays and reading and finals week)
Time: 6 to 10 p.m.
Location: Knight Lab, Fisk 111

The Knight Lab’s student fellows host weekly Open Lab hours to help foster and support Northwestern’s community of budding hacker journalists. Bring your projects, ask for input, bounce ideas off each other, ask questions, and hear a lightning talk from a fellow student. Students of all abilities are welcome and encouraged to come.

Students who are interested in Knight Lab should sign up for the community Google Group to keep up with our public activities and other opportunities. Check out past Open Lab lightning talks.

Brown bag lunch and Journalism Tech Discussion

Date: Thursdays throughout the quarter (except holidays and reading and finals week)
Time: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Location: Knight Lab, Fisk 111

Northwestern University Knight Lab hosts casual discussions over lunch with interesting professionals working in news and media, or directly adjacent, to talk about the practice of journalism through technology over lunch. Anyone in the Northwestern community who is interested is welcome to attend. View upcoming guests and RSVP here.

Past, notable events

MigraHack 2016

Date: June 3-5, 2016
Location: Two Chicago locations (Microsoft, 200 E. Randolph; and General Assembly, 444 N. Wabash)

Knight Lab is a proud sponsor of MigraHack 2016. This annual event gives a diverse group of participants the opportunity to come together and to use data and storytelling to illuminate the many issues surrounding immigration. Teams create visual journalism projects that are shared on social media and republished in traditional media.

The event includes a day of data visualization training and a weekend of hacking. You don’t need tech skills; just bring ideas and enthusiasm. Bring your own team or form a multi-skilled team with people you meet there. The best projects will win up to $5,000 in cash prizes.

If you’re attending, check out data that may be useful for your projects, and get inspiration from past Migrahacks.

SND San Francisco 2016

When: April 7-9, 2016
Where: Holiday Inn Golden Gateway

Knight Lab co-sponsored the Society of News Design’s Annual Workshop & Exhibition in San Francisco.  The event included workshops, two keynotes, interesting panels and sessions, and a gala to celebrate the Best of News Design.

Kickstarter Presents: How to Journalism in a Scary World if you don’t have a Fancy Grant

When: Friday April 3rd at 7:00pm
Where: The Cards Against Humanity Theater
(1917 N. Elston, Chicago, Il 60642)

Join Kickstarter for a conversation about how writers, publishers and technologists have used the platform to launch their journalism projects into the world. You’ll learn how to structure a journalism campaign, what kind of rewards work best, and how to spread the word about your project, increase your audience and build a community.

The presentation will be followed by quick talks on new journalism projects in Chicago and how they’re being funded.

Wiki Research Hackathon

Date: November 8, 2013
Time: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Location: Knight Lab, Fisk 111

Are you a researcher, developer, designer, or data visualizer interested in wikis, Wikipedia, and open online collaboration? If so, join us for the inaugural Chicagoland Wiki Research Hackathon. All are welcome. The Wiki Research Hackathon is a free and open to all, and is being coordinated in conjunction with Wikimedia Labs² and the global Wiki Research Hackathon, which is currently scheduled to take place on four different continents over a 24 hour period! Visit our Meetup page to learn more and to RSVP.

New prototypes presentation from the Collaborative Innovations class

Date:Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Time: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Location: McCormick Tribune Center, Forum

Nine teams from Northwestern’s Collaborative Innovation class will present prototypes to serve journalists, publishers and media consumers. Among the nine projects: A Google Glass prototype, a tool that helps journalists uncover news in data, and a system that finds different political perspectives on the current affairs. Audience members will have the chance to ask questions, and we’ll end with pizza and conversation. The best of these projects may move into the Knight Lab for further development and deployment.

Google for Media: Chicago

Date: Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Time: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Location: The James Hotel – 55 E Ontario St, Chicago, Illinois 60611.

Knight Lab is helping out with this neat event that will feature speakers, panels and hands-on workshops with Google product experts. Bring your laptop and be prepared to dive in with the latest tips and tricks to hone your digital skills. You must RSVP on this Google form. Hear from Google experts in Search/Trends, Google Maps and Earth, Fusion Tables, Google+, Google News, and YouTube. Chicago journalists — including a few from Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ — will present sessions on collaborative reporting, using the internet to better tell stories, skill sets for the modern journalist and more.

An evening reception at Stout Barrel House will begin at 5:30 p.m