Posts

Archive of posts from
August 2013

  • A guide to online tutorials for the code-curious journalist

    “I definitely think that coding now is a kind of a literacy, no matter what position you are in,” - Louise Ma, WNYC’s data news interaction designer, in CJR Here’s a fact: The occupation of newspaper reporter was recently rated by one career services website as the No. 1 worst job of 2013. With a negative six percent projected job growth and a painfully low median salary, it's become clear that the concept the “traditional” journalist is...

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  • Journalists! We're building a tool to help you discover obscure relationships and we'd like your help

    Can new software help journalists do a better job of gathering, organizing and making sense out of newsworthy information? That's the question the Knight Lab has set out to answer through our Untangled project. When Joe Germuska wrote about Untangled in April, we were imagining a multipurpose "browser-based knowledge management" tool that would help journalists keep track of information they found online. Since then, we have explored this idea through a variety of approaches: by...

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  • User testing: how news designers and developers add context to quantitative data

    Last week I wrote about how news organizations use A/B testing to help iterate on design elements such as page layout and headline writing-style in order to increase reader engagement. The technique provides essential information about what a reader is doing, but it does have limitations. “When you’re only looking at metrics you see the what, but you don’t see the why,” said Steve Mulder, director of user experience and analytics at NPR Digital Services....

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  • Ethan Marcotte on web design, accessibility and why it matters to journalists, digital storytellers

    The Lab’s profiles are Q&As with smart people who are shaping the future of media. Follow the series. My career has been blessed with many mentors, but few have had a more profound effect on my work, and my career, than Ethan Marcotte. We worked together on the imagining, responsive design, prototyping and launch of The Boston Globe’s new website — BostonGlobe.com — in 2011. In fact, he actually coined the phrase “responsive web design” in his May 2010 A List Apart article,...

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  • New journ-tech community in Miami + Follow-up to the Code with Me Miami workshop

    The February, we sponsored Code With Me's second workshop in Miami. We asked our friend, Miami-based journalist and Code with Me Miami mentor, Rebekah Monson, to give us a follow-up explaining how journalists in the area have since started their own Hacks/Hackers chapter and have been hosting weekly open hack nights with the Code For Miami Brigade at one of the city's co-working spaces called The LAB Miami. Code With Me Miami aimed to teach 18 local journalists basic HTML, CSS and jQuery...

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  • Disqus helps Knight Lab gather feedback on Refine—Better Commenting

    Earlier this week Disqus published an article about Knight Lab’s Refine—Better Commenting technology. The post is the first semi-tangible result of a conversation we started with Disqus many months ago and one that might help shape the future of the technology. Refine—Better Commenting basically takes high-volume comment feeds (think CNN, where certain stories attract thousands of comments), analyzes them and provides users unique insight into what’s being discussed most. From the Disqus post: It can...

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  • Callie Schweitzer on audience hacking, the future of social media editors, and the benefits of authenticity

    The Lab’s profiles are Q&As with smart people who are shaping the future of media. Follow the series. It seems strange to say now, but a month or two back Callie Schweitzer wasn’t anywhere on my radar. Her name first appeared in my inbox along with a compliment and a bold suggestion for Knight Lab’s Q&A series. And then, suddenly, she was everywhere. She moved from VOX Media to her new gig as director of...

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  • Designing from data — How news organizations use A/B testing to increase user engagement

    Back in November I had a minor journalism crisis, questioning journalism’s impact on society and the business models that are trying to sustain news organizations. This prompted me to look into other ways that people interested in social impact were developing and organizing businesses. Long story short, I applied and was accepted into a 6-month program at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management called NUvention Impact. It’s an interdisciplinary social entrepreneurship program that gives Northwestern graduate...

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  • Travis Swicegood on leaving startups for journalism, book publishing, and advice for aspiring hacker journalists

    The Lab’s profiles are Q&As with smart people who are shaping the future of media. Follow the series. Two weeks ago Travis Swicegood announced he’d taken a job at the Texas Tribune that some of us might’ve assumed he already had: news apps and data editor. After all, Swicegood has been a staple and leader in the news developer community for a few years now, publishing two books, speaking at conferences, and shepherding Armstong, an...

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  • Updates from the past six months, PLUS! Come be a student fellow

    [KICKS OFF SHOES. FALLS INTO CHAIR. LETS OUT AUDIBLE EXHALE.] Oh. My. Guess what?! Last week was my first anniversary here at the Lab. I came to this job with the intention of substantially chipping away at the media-stack, innovative-systems-for-news-publications, journalism-tech "problem." Well, that  expectation was quite naïve. A university is not positioned to produce and support substantial, commercial-level software technology. One can expect ideas and students from a university. The product that a university contributes...

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  • Tyler Fisher on being a Knight Lab student fellow

    In my sophomore year of college, I prototyped a product for a class final project. Thanks to the help and support of the Knight Lab, that modest prototype became a fully realized product in my junior year, and now, it has been used by The Washington Post and WBEZ. Tyler Fisher The full weight of that still hasn't hit me, really. I still find it hard to believe that I have made something of value...

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  • Early adopter: Why an incoming freshman wants to be a hacker-journalist, discovering Knight Lab

    [sc:editors-note notetext="This spring incoming Northwestern freshman, Alex Duner, reached out to us in utter excitement about newsroom programming and eager to get started. He's come to this niche of computer science and journalism earlier than most, so we asked him to write about why he wants to study computer science and journalism." ] Alex Duner, incoming NU freshman. Plans to study journalism and computer science. Hello! My name is Alex Duner, I am a recent...

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  • How our university lab is helping prepare future hacker-journalists

    Medill “unicorns” at graduation (left to right): Assistant Prof. Jeremy Gilbert;Hilary Fung; Dan Hill; Sarah Adler; Katie Zhu, Prof. Rich Gordon The Knight Lab produces software -- but not just software. We also help produce a new generation of journalists who can thrive at the intersection of journalism and technology. The lab is contributing to Northwestern's educational mission, while also giving students a platform to prepare themselves to have an impact after they leave. Cases...

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  • Accidental journalist Jennifer Brandel on taking assignments from listeners and the need for positive news

    [sc:editors-note notetext="The Lab’s profiles are Q&As with smart people who are shaping the future of media. Follow the series." ] If Jennifer Brandel is an "accidental journalist," it's a very happy accident. Brandel's Curious City project has become a thriving component of the audience engagement program at WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Recently, the Knight Foundation recognized the promise of Curious City with a grant to package the project's technology in hopes of making it easier...

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  • How to: Portfolio sites for journalists, GitHub makes them cheap and (kinda) easy

    Time and time again, new journalists are told to market themselves and make a brand for themselves. The new media heroes of the day have all done it — Nate Silver and fivethirtyeight, Andrew Sullivan and The Daily Dish, Brian Stelter and TVNewser, Matt Thompson, Kat Chow, Touré, Danyel Smith — the list goes on. Sometimes, though, all you need is a static site to tell people who you are and what you do — a personal, or portfolio site with contact info and...

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