Posts

Archive of posts from
2014

  • How news organizations are using SnapChat to report and distribute news

    On the surface Snapchat would seem like a poor service for journalists seeking to convey information. Users are restricted to images, text or drawings that last no more than 10 seconds before disappearing. And the only people who will see your content are people who already follow you. But that hasn’t stopped a few enterprising news organizations from experimenting, adding their own voice to the more than 500 million Snaps sent each day. Especially with...

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  • Nine tools for journalists to cut Twitter list creation and management time

    Journalists know Twitter can be a pretty crazy place, but it’s not like they can just leave. News occasionally breaks amidst the chaos! To cut down on all the noise Twitter offers a little-used but very helpful feature, lists. Lists allows users to cut Twitter down into bite-size Twitter chunks.  With lists journalists can specify which accounts they’re interested in and then view the accounts separately from their main Twitter feeds. Each list will ideally...

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  • How four girls conspired to take down CAESAR

    Someone once said, “we should totally just stab Caesar.” Our school’s student account system, CAESAR, is the official course registration tool and is also the source of several frustrations for students. So my peers and I committed an infamy. We dared to totally take a stab at CAESAR. Each quarter, Knight Lab encourages its student fellows to think of how best to develop skills specific to our personal interests and needs. In the past, I’ve...

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  • How the git mergetool solved my anxiety, fears, and most importantly, my merge conflicts

    Back in March, another student fellow Nicole Zhu and I worked on a team challenge for which we were the primary coders. One day, she emailed me: “Uhh. I messed up. Sorry. I think you have to delete your repo.” She had been attempting to resolve a merge conflict, ended up in vim somehow, nope’d out of there, and messaged me to let me know her solution was to delete everything and re-clone. More sadly,...

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  • The devil is in the details: shifting gears from developer to designer

    For an entire quarter, I had the privilege (a curse to some) of focusing all my time on a single project. Romaine, a social platform/tool for selecting courses, had a simple goal: how do we harness the community nature of the question, “what class are you taking next quarter?” My initial solution was laughably naive and simple. ‘Just link each course to Facebook!’ I thought to myself. We’d be done in no time. Ha, ha....

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  • What can we learn from the history of social network analysis?

    When I joined Knight Lab as a student fellow six months ago, I became determined to make progress on a social network analysis (SNA) tool. As journalists we continually look to provide quality information through captivating perspectives and I believe that network data fulfills a part of that purpose in capturing the details of our society from a structural point of view. But the fact is that network analysis is a tough problem to tackle....

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  • Resources to build and deploy web applications quickly

    Beginner coders often look to learn specific languages, like JavaScript or Ruby on Rails. While this is important to understand concepts like control flow and functions, as learners become more comfortable with these technologies, their focus shifts from tutorials and side projects to designing solutions for real-world problems. These solutions typically include common core features that start to require backend and devops experience: data and user storage, a presentable user interface, and a live link...

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  • New journalism/technology prototypes unveiled Wednesday

    On Wednesday, December 3, journalism and computer science students in the latest version of Northwestern’s “Collaborative Innovation in Journalism and Technology” class will unveil the prototypes they’ve built over the past 10 weeks. You’re invited to see what they’ve come up with. The students have been working since September, when I and Associate Prof. Larry Birnbaum of the computer science department in the McCormick School formed seven interdisciplinary teams out of the 25 students enrolled...

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  • Pop Up Archive's Anne Wootton and Bailey Smith on born digital audio, search and transcriptions

    "Obligatory question: what shows do y’all love to listen? Give ‘em to me. The more obscure the better." "Oh my god, Miranda. There's this podcast, Serial, that is so good." Unless you've been ignoring the future-of-journalism chatter completely, chances are you've begun to tire of the whole "podcasts were dead and now they are back" discourse. This story is everywhere and it’s not exactly accurate, as they never really were "dead." That said, if you...

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  • In our ears… November edition

    Around the Lab, some of us are long-time podcast junkies and some of us were about eight years old when podcasts came on the scene. We've been publishing our research into web audio from our primer on its history to why it feels stagnated. However, we haven't published much about podcasts or podcasting (because everyone else is writing about it, including listicles from just about everyone from The Atlantic to The Huffington Post) or about...

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  • Jake Shapiro on PRX, developing Radiotopia and the future of web audio

    Follow the full series of Q&As with smart folks shaping the future of media. Find more articles about podcasts, podcasting and audio on the Web. When I first started researching web audio, I was surprised to find again and again that an organization I’d never heard of was leading the charge, pushing hard on the current state of sound on the internet, and helping the medium into the 21st century: Public Radio Exchange, more commonly...

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  • Alex Blumberg on StartUp podcast, Gimlet Media and the future of podcasting

    Follow the full series of Q&As with smart folks shaping the future of media. Find more articles about podcasts, podcasting and audio on the Web. Alex Blumberg is a man who needs little introduction... At least not much of one within public radio and podcast circles. He's produced stories for This American Life for years and co-founded the award-winning Planet Money. Lately, Blumberg has been climbing the iTunes charts with StartUp, a new podcast chronicling...

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  • How to get rich in the podcasting gold rush: Steal these 6 ideas from Odeo

    Odeo’s vision for casual content creation didn’t take off in the mid-00’s, but with new interest in web audio maybe these ideas are worth another shot. Before there was Twitter there was Odeo, the web-app that aimed to make podcasting accessible, discoverable and social. While it’s mostly remembered as the humbling misstep Ev Williams, Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone took along the path to building Twitter, it was filled with innovative audio ideas the net...

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  • Leaps and sounds: 6 product categories creating the future of web audio

    In our "Why web audio can’t grow up" article, we presented the case for moving away from “podcasts” as the de-facto definition of web audio, to create new audio platforms and new ways to experience interacting with audio on the web. Quick summary: Podcasts are difficult to share, tough to discover and not inherently suited to community building. They just feel old! Luckily we’re not the only ones who’ve noticed the problem, innovators of all...

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  • The 4 Stages to Internet medium maturity: Why web audio can't grow up

    Audio storytelling on the net has looked the same for about a decade - why are we accepting the status quo while text and music evolve? Screen grab from Comedy Central. The current state of audio on the 'net It doesn’t take a genius to see web audio has problems. In a Knight Lab brainstorm we pinpointed more than 20 things we can’t stand about how audio storytelling works on the net. Plus we’re not...

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  • From Carl Malamud to Dr. Dre to Ev Williams: The history of web audio

    When Dr. Dre sued Mega Nerd, and now famous serial-entrepreneur, Sean Parker’s Napster back in 2000, digital music distribution seemed like the biggest danger to the rapper’s fortune. Maybe the threat triggered something in the hip-hop mogul’s mind. What was once a threat became booming business for the good doctor in May when he sold Beats Music to Apple as part of a massive deal. Dre nearly became hip-hop’s first billionaire in the process, and might...

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  • Rethinking the listicle. What can it do for "serious" news?

    Odds are, you’ve read more than a handful of listicles. They proliferate social media, they’re sweet and short (but short on nutrition), and in a culture of distraction, it's hard not to love a numbered article. This October, I facilitated a session at Mozilla Festival, seeking to discover where these listicles belong "serious" news reporting. The proposal might sound strange considering that most listicles are headlined with some variation of “50 hottest …” “8 simple...

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  • New Team Member: Heather Billings, Designer/Developer

    Heather Billings We are pleased to announce that Heather Billings will be joining the Lab as a designer and developer. Heather comes to us from the Chicago Tribune, where she has been a member of the News Apps team for the past three years. I'm very excited to have the chance to work with Heather again. When we brought her onto the team at the Chicago Tribune, I was already impressed by her smart, humane, and generous presence on social media. The...

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  • How to learn to code: Tell everyone, then ask questions

    The second you decide to learn to code, let everyone - your parents, your grandparents, your Twitter followers - know. Coding might be portrayed as a loner activity in the media, but I've found that when coding your best friend is the universal coding community. I built my first portfolio site with the help of learn.knightlab.com last fall. The feat took me a year to complete. In hindsight, I realize that part of the reason...

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  • Mozfest 2014: Natural language processing in news

    Natural Language Processing is still very nascent within the field of journalism. Apart from a few great examples, the world of NLP has barely been tapped by news organizations. This year at Mozfest, I facilitated a session "How to find insight hidden in speeches, scripts and books with computers." In the days leading up to my session, I spent hours wrangling various datasets in hopes to create The Perfect Lesson Plan ™ complete with a...

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  • MozFest 2014: Finding inspiration in video games to teach technology

    Man, I’m still in love with MozFest. I know I sound like a kid who can’t quit talking about summer camp, but it’s my third MozFest and I’m as excited now as I was two years ago. Back in 2012 MozFest was was intimidating, exciting and incredibly fulfilling by the time all was said and done. It was a tough act to follow, but 2014 seems to have done it. Why? Probably because I once...

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  • MozFest 2014: Gotta lotta analog data? Crowdsourcing may make it useful for you and fun for readers

    When we think of data, we almost always think of computers. But when it comes to data that was created before the digital area —  handwritten notes, ancient maps or printed documents, for example — nothing beats human eyes to quantify and verify. And when many human eyes are needed, journalists have the option to crowdsource their data. At MozFest this weekend, Mike Tigas of ProPublica and Jeremy B. Merrill of The New York Times...

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  • MozFest 2014: My first time — a rookie's Mozfest experience

    On Wednesday night I was en route to London and getting nervous. “I’ve never attended a conference or a festival before,” I told Knight Lab’s Joe Germuska as we sat at Chicago's O’Hare International Airport just two days before MozFest kicked off. Joe assured me that MozFest was a good one, but I still had nerves. It wasn’t just that it was my first festival. I'd also had a proposal to facilitate a session accepted,...

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  • MozFest 2014: Designing products for news with the Werewolf game

    Yesterday I attended a fun and interactive MozFest session led by Melody Kramer, a digital strategist at NPR, in which she used the game Werewolf to teach how she makes products for NPR. Only, in our game, the scary Werewolf didn’t kill people, it killed features. In a traditional game of Werewolf: The moderator divides players into two secret teams – the werewolves and the villagers. The werewolves’ goal is to kill all of the...

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  • MozFest 2014: On community, and why it's not just a buzzword

    A couple years ago a 13-year-old boy in Ireland started to learn to code and built a game so successful it knocked Angry Birds off its No. 1 spot in the Irish App Store. At 13, I’m pretty sure I was still listening to Hilary Duff and fighting my sister for AIM time on the computer. I know why CoderDojo Global CEO Mary Moloney shared the story of game-making Harry at the MozFest kick-off to...

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  • MozFest 2014: Thinking about (and soon building) sentient articles

    Notes and questions from the MozFest session On the first day of MozFest, I went to an intriguing session called “Rise of the Sentient Articles.” Led by ProPublica’s Sisi Wei and Ryann Jones, the session encouraged participants to brainstorm the future of news powered by algorithms. What if articles modified themselves based on an individual reader’s needs? What if, rather than building news applications and interactive graphics that rely on user input, the content was...

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  • What I learned building my first news product, JuxtaposeJS

      Just in time for last week's Online News Association Conference, Knight Lab announced the launch of JuxtaposeJS, a lightweight, easy-to-use, image comparison tool. Any product launch is exciting and I'm excited to see how journalists use JuxtaposeJS to tell stories. But from a personal perspective JuxtaposeJS is more than just a tool — it’s the first tool I’ve ever built from start to finish. It was also my first major Javascript project and I...

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  • Introducing JuxtaposeJS, an easy way to compare two frames

    We’re pleased to announce JuxtaposeJS, a new Knight Lab tool that helps journalists tell stories by comparing two frames, including photos and gifs. JuxtaposeJS is an adaptable storytelling tool and is ideal for highlighting then/now stories that explain slow changes over time (growth of a city skyline, regrowth of a forest, etc.) or before/after stories that show the impact of single dramatic events (natural disasters, protests, wars, etc.). For example, check out this NASA image...

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  • On the state of data journalism, at #SRCCON 2014

    As a computer scientist about to graduate from the Medill School of Journalism, I have a front row seat on the intersection of data and journalism. Unfortunately, as Alberto Cairo has pointed out, there is still a lot of work to be done to properly combine the two. The first ever Knight-Mozilla OpenNews’ #SRCCON seeks to mind meld data savvy journalists, many of whom also attended NICAR. While most conferences are a collection of talks...

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  • On scaling and efficiency of long-form news story design, at #SRCCON 2014

    Day one session, "Art directing posts, sustainably" with Scott Kellum and Lauren Rabaino. (Photo by Ramla Mahmood)There seems to be an uptick of production in digital storytelling: More and more newsrooms are beginning to build longform editorial pieces on the web, with designs that break out of their day-to-day article templates. Web developers in newsroom sometimes find themselves struggling to meet growing editorial demand for special treatment on story projects, sometimes by copy-and-pasting previous code in...

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  • On better project management for newsroom stories, at #SRCCON 2014

    Build a storyteller something interactive, and you feed them for a day. Teach them digital or data skills, and you start to unlock your newsroom nerd potential. Jaeah Lee, interactive producer at Mother JonesOn day two of #SRCCON — Knight-Mozilla Open News inaugural conference in Philadelphia last week — Mother Jones' Tasneem Raja (editor) and Jaeah Lee (interactive producer) led a discussion where participants exchanged ideas about changing the newsroom training culture generally, I.E. strategies...

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  • Technology and teamwork: How to get the most out of your interdisciplinary team

    With code sometimes you have to run before you can walk. Tutorials and W3Schools are great for learning the basics, but at some point you just have to open a blank window in Sublime Text, focus on a project and start writing code from scratch. If you’re like me and aren’t a disciplined runner, it can be hard to keep up the momentum when working on your own. Having teammates keeps you on track and...

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  • Event recap: Twitter talks elections, politics, and data

    In the eight years since Twitter launched, the platform has become an essential tool for modern journalists. Yes, it’s great source of interesting content and anecdotes for coloring your work. It’s also an undeniably effective platform from which to promote your work. But with more than a billion tweets posted every two days, the data and insight derived from those tweets is probably even more intriguing. Late last month, several members of the Twitter for...

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  • SoundCiteJS update makes the tool mobile and MP3 friendly

    Last year, we released the initial version of SoundCite, a tool that helps content creators add inline audio clips to their stories. It was designed to be easy to use for any author (no coding required). We open sourced the project and hoped that our users would guide us on future development. They have. Recently The New York Times and Al Jazeera published stories using customized versions of SoundCite that included the ability to do...

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  • A hackathon for journalists, the highs and lows of the first Journalism School Hackathon

    This month saw the debut of the first ever Journalism School Hackathon, hosted by the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication. It was an exciting opportunity for forward-thinking and tech-savvy students from across the country to come together and use their combined powers to work on challenges a few local news outlets had developed. The participants were tasked with maintaining a focus on creating products that would be feasible, desirable and, perhaps most importantly,...

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  • Six social search tools to help journalists find and analyze trends on Twitter

    This is the third post in a series highlighting research and possible new directions for our Twitter search tool, twXplorer. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are bursting with information thanks to people and organizations the world over ready and willing to share. For journalists these platforms can make for invaluable resources – that is if they know how to use them. In my work researching possible future directions for twXplorer I came across...

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  • Five mini programming projects for the Python beginner

    After Shelly wrote this post, Webucator, a company that provides Python training, volunteered to create solutions for these projects. They've made a series of videos that'll help you out if you need it. Learning a new programming language is both the most exciting and the most humbling experience. For me, that language has recently been Python, which I’ve been learning over these last few months. And as every coder knows, the best way to learn...

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  • Learning more about twXplorer's potential and pitfalls through user testing

    This is the second post in a series highlighting research and possible new directions for our Twitter search tool, twXplorer. I was in India working for CNN-IBN on their Citizen Journalist website searching for some meaningful way — any meaningful way — to share Twitter trends generated by the voices of everyday citizens when I first came across twXplorer. I was so excited! Wow, I thought, I must be able to share these histograms with my...

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  • From Sourcerous to Trendable: Nine new tech prototypes unveiled next week

    Nine new projects from teams of Northwestern journalism and computer science students demonstrate ways that technology could help journalists, publishers and media consumers. And you can see them unveiled next week. The final presentations in our unusual "Collaborative Innovation in Journalism and Technology" class take place at 6:30 p.m. (Chicago time), Wednesday, June 4 in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum. If you can attend, please let us know. If you can't, catch the live stream...

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  • Keyboard shortcuts for tech-savvy journalists, no matter if they write code or articles

    Rebecca Lai watches me type every letter of a long file name — something like pythonreallylongfilename1234567.py — into Sublime. After the first couple letters, she cannot contain herself. “TAB COMPLETE! TAB COMPLETE!” If there's an apt analogy for the way Lai must feel when I forget to tab complete (keep reading if you're unfamiliar with the term) as she helps debug my code, it must be something like this: you're watching over your mother’s shoulder...

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  • Help us improve twXplorer, our Twitter search tool for journalists

    As part of his academic research, graduate student fellow Neil Holt is examining ways in which Knight Lab’s twXplorer might be updated to be more useful to working journalists. This is the first post in a series. Knight Lab is looking to bring its well-reviewed Twitter search tool, twXplorer to the next level over the next three months and we’re hoping you’ll help shape its future by telling us where you’d like to see it go....

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  • Five tips to help you make the most of your first hackathon

    [caption id="attachment_5488" align="alignnone" width="850"] The author's project from HackIllinois.[/caption] Last weekend I participated in HackIllinois, a 36-hour hackathon hosted at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There wasn’t a set theme other than to create something awesome, which left participants open to hack on whatever they wanted — web apps, mobile apps, hardware hacks, and anything else you can imagine. While all this creative freedom sounded great at first, my teammates and I — all first-time...

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  • How the NYT graphics team prepped for and carried out its Sochi Olympics plan

    The New York Times’ graphics team began working on the many explanatory, video-based interactives and composite images for the Winter Olympics many months in advance. When the Olympics roll around every two years, virtually every news site covers it in one way or another. For interactive teams in particular, the Olympic spectacle provides a wealth of opportunity to craft stories that are beautiful, functional and informational. For Sochi many newsrooms put together great packages (some...

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  • How a young developer stumbled in to journalism and landed at FiveThirtyEight

    Dhrumil Mehta On Friday, FiveThirtyEight announced that Dhrumil Mehta (a former Knight Lab student fellow) would be joining their team as a database journalist. It was fun news for us to hear, particularly when you consider that a year and half ago journalism wasn’t even a small part Mehta’s career plan. At the time, Mehta was a senior here at Northwestern and six months from completing a bachelor’s degree in philosophy (with a cognitive science...

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  • StoryMapJS' GigaPixel tool follows Game of Thrones adventure

    Last week we put the final touches on a StoryMapJS update. As we were wrapping things up, we started to look for fun way to show off the new GigaPixel tool, which allows you to use the StoryMap interface to explain what’s happening in a static image. Eventually we decided to follow the Game of Thrones character Arya through the show’s imagined world of Westeros. The Lab’s operations and project manager (and resident Game of...

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  • Building a content creation ecosystem: journalism and collaboration on the web

    Editorially, one of the first and prominent of the collaborative "pre-CMS" tools, recently announced that it will shut down May 30 despite much fanfare from users. I once worked at a content creation agency in Boston where we churned out an exorbitant volume of content for client companies’ websites on a daily basis. Each writer was responsible for 15-20 stories per day that ranged from 200 to 500 words. We peer-edited and posted all of...

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  • StoryMapJS Beta gets a fresh look, MapBox maps, and a new gigapixel image tool

    Back in December we released an alpha version of StoryMapJS, our tool to help journalists tell better stories with maps. Since then it’s been adopted by a number of journalists and deployed around the world — helping to tell the stories about boarding school runaways in England and chart the impact of the debt ceiling debate in the U.S. among many others. We have been refining StoryMapJS and rolled out a few bug fixes already,...

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  • Kicking off a new, international fellowship with Manuel Aristarán

    As we traveled to various conferences and events last year, we met a number of fascinating nerds doing digital journalism work in Latin America, Europe and Africa. We learned a lot from talking and hacking with them, but just as we were getting going, the event would end. We wanted more time to talk to these journalists, and even work with them, and we wanted to connect them to our wider community back home. Manuel...

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  • How humans make crime data apps more compelling

    Although the Chicago Tribune's homicide application makes extensive use of Chicago’s Data Portal, humans play the crucial role of sourcing and compiling the individual stories. I’m constantly in awe of the newest “data-driven news app.” I ooh and ahh at choropleth maps and play around with filters, marveling at what I’ve always thought to be the product of exclusive scraping, APIs and D3. I didn’t really think beyond the data wrangling and visualization toolkit. When...

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  • Five data scraping tools for would-be data journalists

    This past Fall, I spent time with the NPR News Apps team (now known as NPR Visuals) coding up some projects, working mainly as a visual/interaction designer. But in the last few months, I’ve been working on a project that involves scraping newspaper articles and Twitter APIs for data. I was a relative beginner with Python — I’d pair coded a bit with others and made some basic programs, but nothing too complicated. I knew...

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  • Preserving interactive news projects with Newseum, OpenNews and Pop Up Archive

    Photo by Ted Han during the #apparchive designathon at Newseum with OpenNews and Pop Up Archive On Sunday, March 2, Knight-Mozilla OpenNews, the Newseum and Pop Up Archive hosted a one-day conference focused on solving a fairly new problem: How to preserve the new breed of complex interactive projects that are becoming more prevalent in news. While print newspapers are relatively well-preserved, we as an industry do a poor job of preserving interactive databases and...

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  • A beginner's guide to collecting Twitter data (and a bit of web scraping)

    As a student fellow at the Knight Lab, I get the opportunity to work on a variety of different projects. Recently, I’ve been working with Larry Birnbaum, a Knight Lab co-founder, and Shawn O’Banion, a computer science Ph.D. student, to build an application that takes a user’s Twitter handle, analyzes their activity and returns a list of celebrities that they tweet most like. It’s not an earth-shattering project, but it is a fun way for...

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  • Googling for code solutions can be tricky — here's how to get started

    Mad Libs was driving me mad. In order to learn JavaScript earlier this quarter, I set out to build a web application that would mimic a game of Mad Libs and immediately got stuck. The idea was that the game would prompt you to enter a set of random words according to specific parts of speech, and then return to you a story whose blanks had been filled in with those words. Cue a hilarious...

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  • If you want to learn to build the web, start by building your community

    Students at Open Lab Hours. Photo by Suyeon Son. For the last two quarters, student fellows at the Knight Lab have been hosting Open Lab Hours each week. The atmosphere, conversations and community that have developed have been more than we have expected. Friendships were born, pizza was consumed, and, most importantly, new projects were pushed online. The idea behind Open Lab Hours is simple: create a space for students interested in journalism and technology...

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  • The annual NICAR lightning talks have become the highlight of the conference

    Derek Willis welcoming the crowd to the fourth year of lightning talks. Photo by Aaron KesslerWhen the 2014 CAR conference open call for lightning talk proposals was sent out, the session became the one I was most looking forward to at NICAR 2014. Moderated by Derek Willis of the New York Times, each presentation was entertaining, informative and (as advertised), fast. This year they were sponsored by the Knight Foundation, positioned in a primo Friday...

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  • Let's get physical: Discovering data in the world around us

    The world of a data journalist is mired in numbers. Stats after stats, spreadsheets after spreadsheets — gathering, cleaning, and processing data is undeniably a tedious process. They are worthwhile and necessary endeavors, yes, but as a budding journalism student it seems learning all of that process could make developing the skills of the data journalist seem inaccessible. It’s hard to remain invested in a project before its narrative has been fleshed out, when all...

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  • Hack or Hacker? Know when it is appropriate to access data and when it is not

    Attending NICAR14 as a computer science student without a journalism background was an interesting experience, to say the least. Never have I been surrounded by so many journalists (and developers) who were so passionate about data and the tools that can help them attain it. As the journalism and developer worlds are converging and as access to information is becoming ever more important, the question of “when it is appropriate to access data and when is...

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  • Displaying of aggregate info: Dynamic storytelling with Google Fusion Tables

    Slides from "NewsCamp::The next generation of data viz" Alberto Cairo gave the first talk I saw at NICAR. The room was packed. He is the author of The Functional Art, maintains a blog the same name, and has become a highly respected expert in data visualization. Cairo’s talk was titled "NewsCamp::The next generation of data viz," and he made the slides available. Cairo said something that really stood out for me. “We should not focus...

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  • Brainstorming ideas for social network analysis in investigations and journalism

    Some of the "How might we…" questions at the NICAR14 designing new tools for social network analysis journalism session in Baltimore Sunday morning. This year's CAR conference has had many discussions about organizing data and surfacing stories, whether it’s through crowdsourcing personal stories in Al Jazeera’s “Uganda Speaks” project or by analyzing 80,000 censored Weibo posts in ProPublica’s “China’s Memory Hole.” Social network analysis, which is the analysis of the connections linking people, businesses and...

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  • Don't believe your eyes: Learning how to be critical with Alberto Cairo

    A previous version of this story misstated Alberto Cairo's position on the proportion of people who oversimplify infographics. We've removed the number. Read Cairo's take on thinking critically about data visualizations, including his reaction to this piece, here. Not 15 minutes into the first session at my first NICAR conference, I felt utterly mortified. Here was Alberto Cairo, author of “The Functional Art,” telling me the graphic I retweeted not two weeks ago with the...

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  • NICAR14 reflections from a graduating visual journalist

    I joined the relatively large crew of Lab student fellows this past weekend at my first NICAR conference, a crowd of fellow young journalists and I were invited to an “Unsession” about job searching for millennials. .@jeremybmerrill and @sisiwei dropping knowledge on the young'ns pic.twitter.com/tVk5BSoLKv— Lena Groeger (@lenagroeger) March 1, 2014 Jeremy Merrill, an interactive developer at the New York Times, and Sisi Wei, a news apps developer at ProPublica, put the event together to...

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  • Tips, resources for print designers learning web-based, interactive infographics

    For the past year, I’ve been transitioning between my previous background as a print news designer to producing graphics and visualizations for the web. When I planned my schedule for my first ever NICAR, my goal was to attend every data visualization session and panel I could. Four days and over fifteen sessions later, it’s hard to describe the enormous breadth of information I was exposed to, but I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced...

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  • Quick roundup of student sessions at IRE's CAR 2014 conference

    Students flocking to Sisi Wei's & Jeremy Merrill's "jobs and career straight talk unsession", photo by Ted Han. Being a student at a 1000+ people conference full of industry professionals can be an intimidating experience. Based on an unofficial survey, there were roughly 30 college students at the conference from schools around the US, Canada and Denmark. Their majors ranged from journalism and communication to statistics and computer science. While students were merely a small...

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  • Knight Lab team at NICAR 2014

    Hello, NICAR 2014. It’s lovely to see you all again. Knight Lab’s brought a small(large) crew to Baltimore for this year's annual conference. Some of us are old friends and some of us are just dying to get to know you. So, please, don't be shy. Reach out and say hello! Student fellows: Alex Duner (freshman, developer, journalism) Tyler Fisher (senior, developer, journalism) — Find Tyler at the student brown bag lunch and from 3-4...

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  • Journalism's biggest data experiment, EveryBlock, relaunches

    Plenty has been written about EveryBlock since word came last month that the site’s owners planned to revive the site after it was abruptly shut down 11 months ago. But last week OpenGovChicago created a unique opportunity for developers, local news lovers, and open data folks: the chance to speak directly with the Comcast executives in charge of bringing EveryBlock back. The event generated plenty of interest in Chicago, the city that gave birth to...

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  • Behind the dialect map interactive: How an intern created The New York Times' most popular piece of content in 2013

    NYT's most popular piece of content in 2013 — “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk” generates a personalized dialect map based upon user responses compared to data from more than 350,000 survey responses collected in 2013. How do you create the most popular piece of content of the year at one of the nation’s most prestigious news outlet? Well, for starters, study or consider careers in politics, law, and philosophy before eventually deciding that...

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