Nick Hagar

Hello! I'm a PhD candidate in the Computational Journalism Lab at Northwestern University. I'm also a part-time research engineer at Meta. In early 2022, I interned with Patreon's data science team.

I research how collective attention works in large, complex systems. I use data science and engineering to study how people discover information online, why things get popular, and what influences content creators. My first love is journalism, but I also study large social platforms (TikTok, Reddit, Facebook) and other attention markets (Netflix, Substack).

Before grad school, I worked in audience development and analytics at Fusion Media Group, Digiday, Pacific Standard and the Dallas Morning News. I've written for Pacific Standard, the Christian Science Monitor, McSweeney's Internet Tendency and others. I graduated from the Medill School of Journalism and am originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Recent updates

  • 🗣️ November 2022: Gave a talk on my ongoing research at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
  • 📄 October 2022: Wrote a Journal of Communication piece with Aaron Shaw, published earlier this month.
  • 💻 June 2022: Started as a Research Engineer Intern at Meta Core Data Science.


All my code is on GitHub. Some notable recent projects:


My latest (December 2022) blog post is up on Substack.

Most of what I write is peer-reviewed academic work, found on my Google Scholar profile or in my CV. Email for copies of paywalled work.

Before grad school, I worked in journalism and wrote for a handful of publications:


Sometimes I go on podcasts or write about my research for broader audiences. Somtimes other folks write about my work too. I'm at nhagar[at] if you'd like to get in touch.