Ryan Graff

Communications and Outreach Manager, 2011-2016

Journalism, revenue, whitewater, former carny. Recently loving some quality time @KelloggSchool.

Posts

Posts by Ryan Graff

  • How WSJ used data and design to show Americans their polarized politics and media

    If you want to see just how polarized America's media and political landscape has become, you’d have a hard time finding something more compelling than Blue Feed, Red Feed from the Wall Street Journal. The project shows the viewer two hypothetical Facebook news feeds — one that contains content from sources favored by very liberal Facebook users, and a second that contains content from sources favored by very conservative users — each of which contain...

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

    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 the kernel...

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  • How the Washington Post used data and natural language processing to get people to read more news

    In April, Washington Post announced that it had set a new single-month traffic record, with more than 52 million unique visitors. The figure represented not only a new record, but also a 65 percent year-over-year gain that led other big-name publishers, according to the Post. Publisher Frederick J. Ryan praised the addition of new editorial staffers and awards, and then called special attention to engagement: While unique visitors were up 65 percent, pageviews were up...

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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • TimelineJS passes 31 million pageviews, 250k deployments

    When we pushed the final design and functionality of TimelineJS out to the world about 18 months ago, it was already a success for Knight Lab. It had been deployed at LeMonde, RadioLab, Gigaom and other big-name publishers. But in the year and half since, TimelineJS become a staple of the the web making world. In fact, early this month the 250,000th instance of TimelineJS was created and deployed. At around the same time reader...

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  • MozFest 2013: Content customization for publishers

    One of my favorite ads of all time was one of the simplest: a 15-word Facebook ad created by an artist in New Zealand hawking a pendant he’d made that symbolized “safe passage over water.” I was a dedicated kayaker at the time, so what thrilled me the most was how this ad seemed to speak directly to me — even calling out “kayakers.” When it comes to news however, I’ve never been similarly awed by...

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  • Come meet Knight Lab at ONA13

    Knight Lab brought a team to the Online News Association Conference and we're eager to talk to meet and talk to as many folks as possible. This year myself and Miranda are in Atlanta and will be hanging out at Knight Lab table on the ONA Midway and presenting throughout the conference. Catch us almost anytime on the Midway and in these sessions: Miranda: Friday 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. — Bringing Tech into the Classroom...

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  • What's next for twXplorer? Help us decide.

    Just over two weeks ago we launched twXplorer, a tool to help people make sense of searches and find interesting conversations on Twitter. When we launched the tool we didn’t know how it would be received or what use people would find for it. So far, we've been pretty happy to have more than 13,000 people use twXplorer and to get a few kind words from The Atlantic (“control your own little battalion of news-finding...

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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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  • 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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  • SEO for news — you might not know everything you should

    A month or two back I got roped into going to a happy-hour SEO seminar. Ugh. Talk about an acronym that doesn’t inspire joy in the typical journalist or even the typical hacker journalist: SEO. I’d heard it all before, I thought — keywords, links, URLs, metadata, etc. — but I agreed to go, wanting to appease a boss and deciding that at the very least I’d get to meet some folks and talk some...

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  • SoundCite beta, in-line audio tool, ready to use

    https://vimeo.com/68383495 Knight Lab officially took the wraps off of SoundCite this week, our most recent tool for content creators. In a nutshell, SoundCite makes it incredibly easy for web publishers and writers to include in-line audio in their stories. We released an alpha version a month or two back and WBEZ's Jim DeRogatis used it to give a profile of Chance the Rapper more depth by allowing readers to hear the lyrics DeRogatis cited in his piece....

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  • Mohammed Haddad on his journey from computer science to Al Jazeera data driven storyteller

    Using the theory ‘Hire humans. Not skills. Not roles.’ as inspiration, the Lab’s profiles are Q&As with highly-impressive makers and strategists from media and its fringes, each with unique perspectives on journalism, publishing and communications technology. We’re talking to smart people who are shaping the future of media. Not all of them work in a newsroom, not all are big names, not all have fancy titles, but each is a bright person with something to...

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  • Chase Davis on data-driven decision making for news projects

    Using the theory ‘Hire humans. Not skills. Not roles.’ as inspiration, the Lab’s profiles are Q&As with highly-impressive makers and strategists from media and its fringes, each with unique perspectives on journalism, publishing and communications technology. We’re talking to smart people who are shaping the future of media. Not all of them work in a newsroom, not all are big names, not all have fancy titles, but each is a bright person with something to...

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  • Dan Fletcher on Facebook, good content and monetization

    Editor's note: Using the theory ‘Hire humans. Not skills. Not roles.’ as inspiration, the Lab’s profiles are Q&As with highly-impressive makers and strategists from media and its fringes, each with unique perspectives on journalism, publishing and communications technology. We’re talking to smart people who are shaping the future of media. Not all of them work in a newsroom, not all are big names, not all have fancy titles, but each is a bright person with something...

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  • Ignore your focus groups, test relentlessly, and other lessons from NU's entrepreneur conference

    Some of the the Knight Lab crew spent some time yesterday at the 2013 Entrepreneur@NU Conference yesterday, and I have to say, while we didn’t hear anything ground breaking, the team members in attendance agreed that it was inspiring to be around so much energy, so many new ideas, and so many folks who had built something new. It was also a good reminder of the trends in technology and startup culture that we try to keep...

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  • What we learned hosting three Chicago Crime Hacks

    On Saturday the Knight Lab hosted its third and final Chicago Crime Hack with an event at the Cibola co-working space in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. We drew our largest crowd yet, got to meet a ton of new folks, came up with some new ideas, and ate some delicious tamales in the process. A group of hackers works at the Cibola co-working space in Pilsen. It felt to us like a success, but it’s fair...

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  • Trying to find your place in the future of news? Find it with a Knight Lab writing fellowship

    Hey, reporters, writers, and bloggers! The Knight Lab has a few fun paying reporting gigs open and we’d like all you bright Northwestern students to apply. The job will give you the opportunity to learn more about technology in journalism, make connections in the news and technology industries, and add professional clips for your portfolio. As a Knight Lab editorial contributor, you’ll help the Lab cover interesting people and cool projects from around the industry,...

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  • Scott Robbin joins Knight Lab as professional fellow

    What does it take to make Crain Chicago’s 40-Under-40 list? Well, for Scott Robbin it took creating a new way for millions of people to listen to music online while keeping a neighborly eye out for his fellow Chicagoans. All of which makes the Knight Lab very happy to have him as part of our inaugural class of professional fellows. Over the past six years Robbin has done great development work for Twitter, Adobe, and...

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  • Chicago Crime Hack, day one

    The Knight Lab hosted its first ever hack day on Saturday and about 15 civic-minded hackers showed up to tinker with the Chicago Tribune’s Chicago Crime API. A group works at the Knight Lab's Chicago Crime Hack Day. The day started with a quick round of introductions from a diverse group. Some were professional developers with day jobs building software for trading firms or IBM, while others were self-described apprentices and hobbyists. No matter, everyone...

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  • Highlights from NICAR's Year in CAR presentation

    This morning’s Year in CAR presentation at NICAR 2013 provided a great look back not only at some of the great investigative work of the last year, but also some really good visualizations and presentations. The full slide deck from Mark Horvit and Megan Luther’s presentation should be on the IRE site soon, but below are some of my favorites from their list of 2012 data-driven highlights. Click through for some of the great work...

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  • Knight Lab gears up for NICAR

    On Wednesday the Knight Lab will head to Louisville for NICAR. It’s the biggest gathering of our tribe and we couldn’t be more excited. The schedule is stacked with sessions on everything from data visualization to basic Python programming to building news apps with Django. A few Knight Lab staffers and faculty will add their insight to the mix at the following sessions: Mobile + DataViz: Friends or Frenemies: Miranda Mulligan will talk about data...

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  • Questions and consequences when publishing public data

    Over the past few months something unusual has happened to public data projects: they’ve made national headlines. For journalists the most well known project was the gun permit holder map the Journal News in White Plains, New York published late last year featuring names and addresses of all registered gun owners in two New York counties. The map was controversial and inspired journalists and journalism pundits to weigh in on the project’s virtues and faults...

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  • Computation + Journalism demo projects

    This week a few Knight Lab staffers, students, and faculty made it to the Computation + Journalism Symposium at Georgia Tech. It’s been a great couple of days filled with new ideas, lively Twitter debates, and plenty of new faces. One of the highlights so far has been the demo presentation Thursday night. We thought these innovative projects and ideas deserved some attention beyond the conference so we’ve collected descriptions and screenshots of as many...

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  • BookRx Launches

    Just before Christmas the Knight Lab launched BookRx, a project that analyzes your tweets and recommends books based on what it finds. BookRx is similar to other projects in our Social Loupe. In the first phase, it analyzes your tweets (the words, Twitter usernames, and hashtags you use) and compares them to terms that are correlated with book categories. In the second phase, it looks within those categories to find specific books to recommend, again...

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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: 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: 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Results of the first publisher survey released

    One of the first challenges the Knight Lab undertook after really getting started this summer was to try to understand some of the challenges and opportunities facing Chicago-area publishers. We wanted to know what publishers were capable of, what their priorities were, and what they'd like to accomplish next as their sites grow. With these objectives in mind, we sent out an online survey in late September. By mid October 44 percent of the publishers...

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