Nicole Zhu

Undergraduate Fellow

Interested in visual storytelling and building products for news. Studying computer science and English at Northwestern.

Posts

Posts by Nicole Zhu

  • Limited connectivity

    Including readers whose only access might be a mobile phone

    This story is part of a series on bringing the journalism we produce to as many people as possible, regardless of language, access to technology, or physical capability. Find the series introduction, as well as a list of published stories here. Although internet adoption rates have neared saturation among young adults and people with higher education, a broader, more diverse audience lags behind when it comes to internet connectivity, often relying on slow, mobile-only connections....

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  • NICAR16: Visualization designed for the human brain

    Data visualizations must tell a good story. But even the best stories might get lost in the translation to a chart, infographic, or map and end up in the dreaded WTF Viz hall of fame. In a session called “Information design for the human brain,” BuzzFeed reporter Peter Aldhous and MediaShift metrics editor and curator Allie Kanik highlighted different ways of encoding data and shared their tips and tricks for deciding the appropriate visualization for...

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  • No soft focus: Behind the design and launch of Broadly

    When Broadly, Vice’s female-centric vertical debuted on August 3, 2015, I was struck not just by the kinds of content they were putting out, but also by its clean yet personable design that complemented its unique voice. Unlike the heavy black color scheme and font weights of Vice Media’s other sites, Broadly was bold in its use of color, typography and grids. I was curious about how Vice designed and launched Broadly, a site that...

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  • Combatting imposter syndrome with community

    Knight Lab squad at NICAR15. Photo by Anne Li. Until college, I never thought coding was for me. I never intended on learning about the “push” and “pull” of GitHub. I was perfectly content not knowing about the existence (and immense power) of the web inspector. I simply fell into it. It’s been exciting to learn and build new things, but part of “falling into” coding has meant that I can’t seem to shake that...

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  • Andrew Golis on launching This.cm and creating a social "magazine experience" on the web

    Occasionally we'll do a Q&A with an impressive maker or strategist from media and its fringes. Each person brings a unique perspective on journalism, publishing and technology. Catch up and/or follow the series here. Up until the end of last year, my daily news experience involved sifting through endless tweets and clickbait on Facebook. When I got an invite to This, a link-sharing social network that aims to “find and share the web’s best stories,...

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  • NICAR 2015: On the necessity of interactivity

    Data. Interactive. D3. X charts and Y graphs that explain Z. I feel that we’ve reached a point where “interactive” has become an empty buzzword in journalism. It’s amazing how quickly interest and adoption of news apps and data visualization has grown in the last few years (just look at the sheer size of this year’s NICAR conference), but as interactive and data-driven journalism becomes more pervasive, we also need to reexamine the meaning of...

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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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