Nick Hagar

PhD candidate in the Computational Journalism Lab at Northwestern University

I research collective attention problems on digital platforms, with a focus on news media. I’m concerned with attention inequality and its impact on digital marketplaces, models of collective information retrieval, and algorithms’ role in shaping attention.

Current projects include simulating collective attention to popular items on Netflix, modeling cumulative advantage in linking behavior on Substack, and building a framework for more robust sampling of news archives, among others. My work uses computational methods, such as simulation, network analysis, and natural language processing.

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 at Northwestern University in 2017 and am originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana.


Oct 18, 2021 We wrote a summary of our recent Digital Journalism paper for Nieman Lab.
Oct 15, 2021 “Anticipating Attention: On the Predictability of News Headline Tests”, with Nicholas Diakopoulos and Burton DeWilde, was published in Digital Journalism.
Sep 8, 2021 I went on the Science of Politics podcast to talk about our recent New Media & Society paper.
Aug 16, 2021 Our recent New Media & Society paper was written up in Mark Coddington and Seth Lewis’ RQ1 newsletter.
Jul 12, 2021 Our recent New Media & Society paper was written up in Der Tagesspiegel.

selected publications

  1. DJ
    Anticipating Attention: On the Predictability of News Headline Tests
    Hagar, Nick, Diakopoulos, Nicholas, and DeWilde, Burton
    Digital Journalism 2021
  2. M&C
    Optimizing Content with A/B Headline Testing: Changing Newsroom Practices
    Hagar, Nick, and Diakopoulos, Nicholas
    Media and Communication 2019
  3. NMS
    Writer Movements between News Outlets Reflect Political Polarization in Media
    Hagar, Nick, Wachs, Johannes, and Horvát, Emőke-Ágnes
    New Media & Society 2021