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.


Jun 1, 2022 I’m starting at Meta later this month, as a Research Engineer Intern on the Core Data Science team.
May 12, 2022 I had two pieces accepted at IC2S2 this year: “Determinants of Popularity in Online Media Consumption” and “Auditing TikTok: An Agent-Based Framework for Examining Algorithmic News Distribution”.
Mar 12, 2022 I just finished up a 3-month research internship at Patreon, working with the great folks on their data science team to understand attention dynamics on a creator-focused platform.
Mar 1, 2022 My extended abstract “The platformization of independent news: From blogging to newsletters” got accepted to ICA 2022.
Oct 18, 2021 We wrote a summary of our recent Digital Journalism paper for Nieman Lab.

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