Automating Journalism Through Computer Science — Class Presentations

Join the Knight Lab to see the latest work from teams in Northwestern's "Innovation in Journalism and Technology" class.

The presentations are open to all. If you can't attend, the event will be live-streamed (and archived) at

Additional Details

Northwestern University’s pioneering efforts to combine journalism and computer science continue with another exciting crop of interdisciplinary projects. Six teams of students from mixed journalism and computer science backgrounds were tasked with solving challenging media problems. Working with topical theme likes election jargon and local issues like campus tours the student teams created compelling, innovative solutions.

This is the latest iteration in a series of cooperative classes that began in the spring of 2009. The solutions these interdisciplinary journalism and computer science student teams come up interesting, promising systems that can be developed further.

One class project became the venture-backed start-up Narrative Science. Others have fueled the work of the Knight Lab, a joint program of the journalism and engineering schools at Northwestern.


A few of the projects that will be presented:

  • Virtual Abby: Supplies Twitters users with kind of personal advice only Dear Abby can offer.
  • Stakeholder Tweetback: Gives voice and context to the political figures in news stories.
  • Dynamic Content: Keeps facts and figures current in perpetuity — long after the author of a news story moves on to other news.
  • Arbitrack: Makes political jargon accessible by assessing its origins, offering a definition and showing other instances of a word or phrase.
  • Augmented NU: Serves as a virtual tour guide for visitors as they move through Northwestern’s campus.
  • Neighborhood Buzz: Takes the Twitter-temperature of a Chicago — telling users what topics matter most by neighborhood.

Class faculty: Jeremy Gilbert, Medill, and Larry Birnbaum, McCormick; with assistance from Kris Hammond, McCormick; Shawn O’Banion, McCormick graduate student; and Scott Bradley, Knight Lab developer.

Promising projects will be further developed in the Knight Lab by students and professional, Lab developers.

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