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Archive of posts from
2012

  • Moving the Needle 2012: Glimpses of the future

    While we’ve spent the week looking back at 2012, what we’re really excited about is 2013 and beyond. Nieman Journalism Lab has a whole series on what to look for in 2013, from a not-so-shabby group of journalism and technology gurus — Amy Webb, Matt Waite, Erin Kissane and our own Miranda Mulligan among them. At the Knight Lab, we saw glimpses of the future in a many projects that launched this year: Summly’s launch got...

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  • Moving the Needle 2012: Glimpses of the future

    While we’ve spent the week looking back at 2012, what we’re really excited about is 2013 and beyond. Nieman Journalism Lab has a whole series on what to look for in 2013, from a not-so-shabby group of journalism and technology gurus — Amy Webb, Matt Waite, Erin Kissane and our own Miranda Mulligan among them. At the Knight Lab, we saw glimpses of the future in a many projects that launched this year: Summly’s launch got...

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  • Moving the Needle 2012: Kickstarter journalism and alt. approaches

    This week we have been taking time to acknowledge what we think are significant achievements, advances and cool projects from the past year in the technology + journalism space for our Moving the Needle 2012. The recently published Tow Center report, "Post-industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present," documents the collapse of the long-standing advertising subsidy, pointing out the need for new business models. Today, we look at a few new approaches: For a few journalism projects, Kickstarter provided a...

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  • Moving the Needle 2012: Our news nerd community

    It's not as though 2012 was the year in which a digital journalism community popped fully-formed into the world. However, looking back, there are some developments in our world which deserve to be called out. For this installment of our Moving the Needle 2012 series, we take a look at some of the best. As always, we expect we've missed a few, so please fill in the gaps in the comments below, or on Twitter...

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  • Moving the Needle 2012: Some design and presentation projects

    This week, Knight Lab is posting daily as we look back at 2012, taking a moment to call out some significant achievements, advances, or cool projects of the past year that move us just that much closer to saving journalism. Yesterday, Ryan Graff highlighted some of the storytelling that made 2012 great, delicately skirting a “Best of” list and instead noting some of the ideas that we thought were intriguing. Today is dedicated to design...

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  • Moving the Needle 2012: Storytelling highlights

    In the great tradition of news organizations for at least the last few decades the Knight Lab is taking a look back at the year gone by. It’s safe to say that for the technology and journalism community, 2012 was a great one. Every event and gathering seemed to have more people, more energy, and more ideas than in years past. All those people, ideas and energy produced some great work. Each day this week,...

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  • Data's nice, but a school choice tool is better

    In Chicago, like most big cities these days, there's no shortage of data available about the local public schools. A parent trying to find the best school for his or her children can find data about schools in at least five different places: the Chicago Public Schools website, the State Board of Education's website, the Chicago Tribune's school report card section, Northern Illinois University's Interactive School Report Card and the "Five Essentials" site operated by...

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  • Symbolia: Process and challenge for the comics journalism startup

    After a decade in news, Symbolia co-founder and publisher Erin Polgreen is adjusting to startup life. And, judging by the vigorous press coverage, it’s not all bad. Plus, there’s the actual work, which is also nice. “Operating as a start up is great because we can change course quickly if we need to,” says Polgreen, who launched Symbolia last week. “There’s not a lot of weight or infrastructure holding us back.” That ability to change...

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  • 'Freehadists' and The Daily's demise: This Week on Twitter

    Each week our very own Stephen Autar tracks the tech and journalism conversations on Twitter as he runs the @KnightLab handle. He offers a recap of the most intriguing and important stories each Friday. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest focal points of conversation this week was—of course—about The Daily. This tweet from Jeff Jarvis expertly sums up the situation: everyone has something to say about it. Over on All Things Digital, Peter Kafka argued that...

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  • Automated journalism prototypes

    The Knight Lab takes new, innovative ideas wherever we can find them — conferences, quick chats with industry folks, academics, students, etc. But one of the surest places for us to look is Northwestern’s Innovation in Journalism and Technology class. Sure, it’s close to home, but it’s also unique because we get to see prototypes in action — a rarity when discussing ideas and innovation in journalism. As Larry Birnbaum, a Lab co-founder who co-teaches...

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  • NewsFoo 2012: What we learned, where we're going

    We wanted to take advantage of the great brains assembled at last week's News Foo event, so we proposed a panel to suss out "big questions in journalism" that the lab should tackle. As might be expected from an unconference, the conversation ranged a lot more widely than our official topic. For starters, a number of folks had general questions about how the Lab works: Who are your stakeholders? Will your tools mostly be journalist-facing...

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  • Ignite #NewsFoo 2012: 'Design is the missing link'

    Over the weekend, some of the Knight Lab team participated in News Foo, an unconference at the Cronkite School of Journalism, hosted by O’Reilly Media and the Knight Foundation. It's in its third year, deliberately maintains small – somewhat controversial – attendee list of about 150 "campers," all of which are involved in technology and/or journalism an interesting ways. It was overwhelming and exciting and we feel incredibly grateful have had the opportunity to participate. I...

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  • 'Bottomless' stories, Instagram mashup and more: This Week on Twitter

    Each week our very own Stephen Autar tracks the tech and journalism conversations on Twitter as he runs the @KnightLab handle. He offers a recap of the most intriguing and important stories each Friday. This week, one of the stories I found most interesting was that magazine publisher Future is reportedly selling $1 million in tablet magazines per month. I know how much I dislike tablet magazine designs for the most part so that seemed like a...

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  • New team member: Director of Software Engineering

    Joe Germuska We are pleased to announce that Joe Germuska will be joining the Lab as the Director of Software Engineering. He joins us from The Chicago Tribune, where he has worked as a news apps developer for the past couple of years, and brings with him twenty years of software design and development experience. We are all atingle with excitement. In his tenure at The Chicago Tribune, Germuska was instrumental in building out their crime, elections and schools applications, among...

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  • Evening Edition's big rush to return to slow news

    The beauty of startup life is how quickly things happen. For Evening Edition — a journalism startup dedicated, ironically, to slow news —quick meant taking a spark of an idea from a Wednesday night Twitter conversation, building it, and launching the product four days later. “In less than a week’s time we went from a joke on twitter, to something that was live and people could subscribe to,” says Jim Ray, one of Evening Edition’s co-founders....

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  • Alan Taylor's journey from technologist to journalist

    Alan Taylor, photo editor and curator of The Atlantic’s InFocus, hadn’t planned to become a journalist. But he did just that a few years ago while working as a programmer for Boston.com. For years, he’d been using interesting pictures to craft photographic series for friends and family. “I seemed to have a knack for seeing these jumbled photographs and putting them in an order that felt right,” Taylor says. “It may not be chronological, but...

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  • Twitter on technology and journalism

    Each week our very own Stephen Autar tracks the tech and journalism conversations on Twitter as he runs the @KnightLab handle. He offers a recap of the most intriguing and important stories each Friday. Read the inaugural post below: If you’ve been following the news this week, you’ve surely seen news of David Petraeus’ resignation following news of his affair. What is most incredible about this story is how investigators unearthed the affair using data...

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  • Knight Lab's MozFest 2012 wrap up

    Last week, a significant portion of the Knight Lab team was fortunate enough to join the Mozilla Festival in London, November 9-12. This incredible event, hosted by the Mozilla Foundation, is in its third year and intends to motivate an entire generation of web makers. As far as we can tell, they are doing this job well. In fact, during the Sunday morning keynote, Mozilla's executive director, Mark Surman shared an anecdote that an attendee had likened #MozFest to #SXSWi in its early...

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  • MozFest: What the heck is a hack?

    This year’s MozFest offered a session titled Jumping between Hacks and Hackers Communities, so as one of the newly appointed organizers of the Chicago Hacks Hackers I decided to attend and meet some people in the same ship. OK, really I just wanted to ask them for some pointers since I have found it to be a challenge getting Chicagoans in consistent enough attendance to build a community. Mariano from Buenos Aires showed us a...

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  • MozFest: Turning data in to a story in three hours? Almost.

    This year at MozFest, I responded to a “call for help” from three African nations to solve the mysterious drop in life expectancy they experienced. In a session called “Data Expeditions: Scout the Data Landscape with our Data Sherpas” (organized by a caped Michael Bauer) all participants split into groups to research and tell a story. My group, made of people with diverse backgrounds, reminded me how valuable a wide variety of skill sets can...

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  • Oh, the places you'll go, Hacker Journalists!

    My, how far we've come. We, meaning the OpenNews community. A little over a year ago, I was sitting in Berlin with 20 amazing, talented individuals — five of whom were to be the first OpenNews fellows — and five of the best news organizations in the world. Gunner, Michelle Thorne, Mark Surman, Ryan Merkley, Dan Sinker (and his beard) were all in attendance. We called our event #hacktoberfest, and it was the penultimate stage...

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  • One person's work, another's new idea at MozFest

    I have a rocky relationship with note taking. In middle school, my teachers encouraged me to copy their presentation slides word for word, insisting that putting pen to paper would help me retain information. I quickly realized that I would learn nothing that way, and I still struggle to note important and interesting events because in the most interesting moments, note-taking is the last thing I want to think about. This weekend, MozFest showed me...

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  • Dan on Data at MozFest

    I spent a lot of time at MozFest thinking about data and how we can use it as journalists. Here’s a quick recap of the sessions I attended and the lessons I learned. Data Expeditions More than 50 journalists and engineers followed a group of  “data sherpas” in to a role-playing game-style hack on datasets in the “Data Expeditions” session. The three-hour session was intended to be a hack and teams — consisting of storytellers,...

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  • MozFest's maker mantra

    MozFest. Man, so hard to describe what this thing is. I don’t want gush too much, but it’s been a great weekend so far. I was intimidated coming in to the festival. The maker ethos here is strong and as a words guy I didn’t think I had the right cred to properly collaborate with the coders and designers. I can cobble together some HTML, shoot photos, and edit video, but generally words are my...

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  • TweetCast knows (probably) who gets your vote

    Today the Knight Lab quietly took the wraps off a project that seeks to uncover a secret most Americans hold — who we plan to vote for in this week’s presidential election. The project, Tweet Cast Your Vote (tweetcast.knightlabproject.com), is experimental, but accurately predicts the candidate Twitter users plan to vote for up to 80 percent of the time. For now the tool is an interesting experience for the user — a sort of political...

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  • @KnightLab gets a new voice

    Stephen Autar Stephen is the Knight Lab’s newest student fellow and he’ll be running our Twitter handle for the next several months. We’d originally planned to shamelessly steal the @Sweden model, recruiting a rotating cast of slightly off beat, moderately offensive contributors. But the idea has evolved over the last few weeks, and we think will Stephen will be running the show through the end of the year and maybe longer. So, who is Stephen?...

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  • Gold coins for tablet users

    This afternoon a team from Medill and Poynter presented their findings on an Eye Track Study for tablets, that sought to answer two questions: 1) How do people choose what to read, and 2) How do they go about reading. It’s clearly a difficult riddle to unravel, but the team — Mario Garcia, Jeremy Gilbert, Dave Stanton, Sara Quinn — managed to suss out some themes, interesting ideas, and solid takeaways for designers and developers...

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  • The Knight Lab goes to Menlo

    Last month, we kidnapped the entire Knight Lab team on a road trip to Michigan to visit Menlo Innovations and take their popular course Project Management: The Menlo Way—or as we fondly to refer to the trip, forced family fun time. Normally a three-day workshop, Menlo arranged a one-day intensive course for our small group. Located in large, open-floor-planned basement with concrete floors and a sizeable glass wall at the entrance, Menlo is unlike the...

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  • Following @Sweden's bold example

    Remember all the fun and trouble caused when Sweden gave regular old citizens control of @sweden on Twitter? Yup, we do too. And since it seems like the embarrassment to entertainment value bends toward entertainment we’re doing the same thing with @KnightLab. Starting next month @KnightLab will be handed to Northwestern students for a month at a time. Since Northwestern students are a pretty bright lot we’ve got some confidence that we’re making a good...

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  • Knight Lab wins an Online Journalism Award for Congressional Primaries

    The Knight Lab won an award at the Online News Association conference in San Francisco last week! We won in the Planned News/Event category for our work on Congressional Primaries. The project was a ton of work and literally everyone in the Lab contributed code, research, partnership development, or publicity so it was nice to get some recognition for such a collaborative effort. Thanks also to the broadcasters and publishers around the state who adopted...

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  • TimlineJS deployed more than 1,500 times, new features

    In March the Knight Lab released TimelineJS. By June, journalists around the world had picked it up and used it to tell some of the biggest stories in the country. All told, more than 1,500 sites have used the technology. With all that adoption TimelineJS’s developer, Zach Wise, has added new features, resources, and even a new license that hopefully makes TimelineJS available to even more people. First, a quick overview new features: Languages — TimelineJS...

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  • TwxRay taken to task on Twitter

    Last week the Knight Lab released a beta version of twXray and received some tough Twitter feedback. We knew, of course, that twxRay was fallible, but it’s another thing to have it out in the world. At any rate, a run down of where it stumbled: You can trick TwxRay with a tweet that takes a common word and applies it in a unique context. A tweet about Tom Cruise may be categorized as travel...

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  • Discover what you (or anyone else) tweets about most

    The Knight News Innovation Lab at Northwestern University launched technology this week that brings transparency and insight to any Twitter feed. twXray (pronounced “twix-ray”) analyzes and categorizes tweets in a user’s Twitter feed to identify the topics they tweet about most – from politics to food to energy to sports. Users simply enter a Twitter handle into twXray.knightlabprojects.com and the site retrieves the most recent few hundred tweets, analyzes them, and produces a chart about...

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  • Miranda Mulligan to head Knight Lab

    EVANSTON, Ill., June 28, 2012 — Miranda Mulligan, a seasoned innovator in journalism, education and news web design, has been named executive director of Northwestern University's Knight News Innovation Laboratory. The lab, which brings together journalists and computer scientists, aims to develop innovative technologies to be used by journalists, publishers and citizens locally, in the U.S. and abroad. Miranda Mulligan "This is an incredible team to be joining, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to further...

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  • Finding the "Local Angle"

    Who says a local story has to happen locally? The Knight Lab has released the first generation of Local Angle, an application that helps content curators and consumers discover articles that may be of local interest even if they don’t originate locally.  The application associates articles with information such as a newsmaker’s birthplace or a company’s headquarters city. The goal is to spot content from around the web that may be of particular interest to...

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  • TimelineJS picked up by storytellers worldwide, some examples

    Back in March the Knight Lab partnered with Medill Associate Professor Zach Wise (a former staffer at The New York Times and part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team at the Las Vegas Sun) to launch a product that was then known as Timeline. In the 2.5 months since the launch, Timeline has grown and adapted to user needs and the marketplace. For starters, the name changed from Timeline to Timeline JS – a move that...

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  • Wrap on NATO in Chicago Project

    The Knight News Innovation Lab has just wrapped up its latest project: NATO in Chicago. In addition learning quite a bit about the interplay between Twitter and mainstream news and recognizing some interesting Twitter trends (read all about that here), the Knight Lab also caught the interest of Chicago media. WTTW invited Knight Lab executive director Michael A. Silver to appear on Chicago Tonight to talk about the project, social media, and the evolution of...

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  • NATO in Chicago Deployment

    If you want to know what people around the world are saying about the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago, head to www.natoinchicago.com, a website created by staff and students from the Knight News Innovation Lab at Northwestern University. The technology behind the website spots, sorts and analyzes what protestors, leaders, city residents and other groups are saying about the NATO Summit on Twitter. It also aggregates and presents traditional media coverage from around the globe,...

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  • Journalists begin adopting TimelineJS

    About three weeks ago the Knight Lab introduced Timeline – a tool that enables journalists to quickly and easily create good-looking, interactive timelines. Word of Timeline slipped out a few days before we formally announced the product on Twitter on March 21 and followed up with a press release on March 23. A week later Twitter feedback made it clear that Timeline’s developer and Medill faculty member Zach Wise had created something particularly useful. Links...

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  • New tool: An easy way to build attractive timelines

    Timelines are a great tool for drawing readers into stories and the Knight Lab is pleased to introduce a great tool for creating them. Our timeline builder was created by Zach Wise, who last year joined the Medill faculty from the New York Times.   In teaching students to deploy timelines, Wise found there wasn’t a satisfactory tool that met current needs.  Working with the Knight Lab, he created one of his own and it’s now...

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  • Partners go live with Congressional primaries technology

    Over the past week we’ve been excited to watch a number of news organizations around Illinois (14 to be exact) complete implementation of our Congressional Primaries 2012 technology on their sites. We’ve ended up with a diverse group of partners—from niche neighborhood publishers, to down state broadcasters, to the big traditional players in Chicago. Elements of the CongressionalPrimaries.org service—either as complete pages or widgets—have been incorporated into the following sites: Daily newspapers Chicago Sun-Times Daily...

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  • Congressional Primaries 2012: ONA award submission

    In early 2012 the Knight News Innovation Laboratory at Northwestern University developed CongressionalPrimaries.org, a suite of technologies to help news organizations around Illinois cover the Congressional primaries. Sixteen news organizations used the Lab's tools to augment traditional election coverage or to present readers with ready-made profiles of every congressional primary candidate in Illinois who had a social media footprint. There were 25 contested primaries in Illinois this year – the first campaigns in districts that...

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  • Opening the door to our Congressional primaries site

    Today, we removed password protection from the beta version of our Congressional Primaries website and moved its homepage to congressionalprimaries.org. We think we’ve put together a good showcase for our set of tools that publishers can utilize to supplement traditional coverage of elections, which we outlined last month. It’s still a work in progress—and will continue to be throughout the weeks leading up to the March 20 primary in Illinois. Our first order of business...

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  • What's in our toolkit for Congressional primaries?

    This week we are releasing details of the services we’re creating to enhance coverage of the March 20 primaries that will choose Democratic and Republican candidates for Congress in Illinois. The Lab is actively monitoring digital activity surrounding the 25 contested races across the state’s 18 congressional districts.  As we said when we announced the project in December, our goal is to help voters better understand what the candidates stand for and where they are...

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