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  • Software developers interested in journalism

    Northwestern and The Washington Post want you!

    Northwestern University and The Washington Post are offering a unique opportunity for two talented software developers interested in applying their programming skills in media and journalism. Here’s the proposition: (1) a full-tuition scholarship to earn a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University, followed by (2) a six-month paid internship with The Post’s world-class engineering team, with the possibility of subsequent full-time employment. These opportunities are made possible by the John S. and James L....

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  • 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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  • 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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  • NICAR 2015: Finding the elusive data/prose sweet spot

    Before I become a good data journalist, even an adept data journalist, there is a skill I really need to nail down: balancing data and anecdotes in an easy-to-understand narrative. Super simple stuff, right? Wrong. It’s a skill that I was drilled and tested on in a handful of courses at Medill, but I don’t feel I've reached the sweet-spot where numbers are present, yet not boring facts that most readers skip. Coming into NICAR...

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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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  • 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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  • Meet Chris Williams, programmer-journalist in training and the first Knight/Washington Post scholar

    Chris Williams Chris Williams, a freelance web developer for the past nine years, enrolls in the journalism master's program at the Medill School this week as the first recipient of a Washington Post scholarship for people with programming backgrounds. Williams is the 11th master's student to enroll at Medill under a program established with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to attract experienced programmer-developers into journalism. He is the first to participate in...

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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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  • 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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  • Mark S. Luckie on finding inspiration, testing ideas, and the importance of asking Why?

    The Lab’s profiles are Q&As with smart people who are shaping the future of media. Follow the series. The first eight years of Mark S. Luckie's career have been rich with accomplishment. For starters he founded and sold 10,000 Words. Then he penned The Digital Journalist's Handbook, which was published in 2010 and is now in its third edition. He's also held a variety of writing and technology jobs at the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment...

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  • Sisi Wei on news games, learning to code, and improving Code with Me

    The Lab’s profiles are Q&As with smart people who are shaping the future of media. Follow the series. As a journalist who is about to graduate, I find easy inspiration in Sisi Wei.  She’s a recent Northwestern grad (class of 2011), which is where I’m studying. More importantly she’s already had a big impact in journalism. She's a news application developer at ProPublica and a co-founder of Code with me, taking on the role of...

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  • SoundCite gives voice to WaPo's account of Wendy Davis' filibuster

    Knight Lab couldn’t have been more excited to learn that The Washington Post used our newly launched project, SoundCite, to tell the story of the Wendy Davis ‘tweetstorm’ following her filibuster in Texas. There's just something about launching a project and seeing it used to help tell stories. It's like sending a child off into the world and watching her succeed. SoundCite co-creator and Knight Lab student fellow, Tyler Fisher, said it best: Got home...

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  • Creating hacker journalists: Medill and WaPo announce partnership

    Last week the Washington Post and Medill School of Journalism announced a partnership to offer programmers scholarships to study journalism at the school. The hope, of course, is that those programmers will eventually bring their technical skills to news organizations around the country. “We need to have more technologists who speak journalism and have hands on experience with it,” says Rich Gordon, a Knight Lab co-founder and the Medill professor who founded the scholarship program....

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