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.

Letting readers get a word in: An experiment in reader engagement

Forward-thinking journalists value “reader engagement,” and that generally means that readers are actively contributing to the story instead of just consuming it. What happens when we take reader engagement to an extreme? What kinds of reader contributions are useful and which are just gimmicks? The Tow Center’s 2015 Guide to Crowdsourcing says that “news consumers clearly have stories to share, but they don’t necessarily want to write the news.” If not the actual

A few small improvements to StoryMapJS

Based on research and user testing, we’re making a number of small changes to StoryMapJS. We think they make the tool easier to use, but we wanted to explain the changes for any veteran users who might notice them. Thumbnail preview First, we made a simple change to the media section: you’ll now see a thumbnail preview of whatever media you’ve attached to the slide. This should make it easier for people to know what they are

Getting started with conversational bots using Wit.ai

We see that Wit.ai can generalize the concepts that we laid out in our Story to a variety of messages from the user. It's able to pick out the names of other  countries, and it can do it even if the message format changes a bit.

Bots. The word is everywhere and each week seems to bring a new project or piece of technology — from Facebook’s new bot-building platform to Microsoft’s Bot Framework to Taco Bell’s bot for Slack. Journalism is not immune. Platforms like Quartz and Purple use bots to bring a conversational feel to news with a mobile apps and SMS interfaces while CNN’s bot will send you personalized news right through Facebook Messenger. The potential

Ten lessons learned after launching the Miami Herald online in 1996

Twenty years ago today, The Miami Herald went live on the World Wide Web, unveiling its website a couple of weeks ahead of schedule because of breaking news: the crash of a passenger airplane into the Everglades about 25 miles northwest of The Herald’s building on Biscayne Bay. At the time, when newspaper people talked about online publishing, we called the website “another edition of the newspaper” — not an entirely different platform

How a holiday shopping story led to an investigation of equal access to retail services based on race

The PNGs that provided the core visualization were developed for an internal audience, but they also told the story, were lightweight, and worked well on mobile so the graphics team published them on line and in Businessweek magazine.

For those of us who aren’t retail executives or addicted to Amazon’s Prime service, Bloomberg’s story on last-minute holiday shopping in November probably didn’t register. The story basically laid out the number of people the retailer could reach with its new Prime Free Same-Day Delivery service and how it might impact brick and mortar retailers like Target and Wal-Mart during the holiday season. But to the reporters who wrote it, that story provided

Challenges in structured journalism: Why it’s hard to write the same story every day

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This article is a part of a series written by Knight Lab Professional Fellow Steve Tarzia documenting his work to develop a crowdsourced model to support the ongoing content creation needs of GunMemorial.org. Follow the series here. The Pulitzer Prize awarded two weeks ago to the Washington Post’s police shootings database was a victory for everyone working on telling big stories with data. The Post’s database is a great example of structured journalism, and