24 Lessons From A Weekend Of Saving Journalism

Saving journalism one pitch at a time. Students and faculty from journalism schools across the nation gathered at the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication to solve media challenges for the first annual Journalism School Hackathon. Local news organizations proposed problems, and teams spent 36 hours brainstorming and researching solutions. The event was hosted by the Reese News Lab and PBS Media Shift.

1. College students WILL wake up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday

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2. But it requires a lot of coffee

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3. Plastic figurines determine team identity

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4. Rivaling schools will come together

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5. Human-centered design is critical

Photo by Sara Peach

Robyn Tomlin of Thunderdome emphasized listening to users.

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6. Brainstorming gets you to a good idea

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A hackathon team works in the UNC J-school Innovation Lab.

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7. The startup process is a roller coaster

Where are you in your process? #troughofsorrow #JschoolHackathon

— Reese News Lab (@reesenewslab)
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8. Post-it notes give ideas flexibility

Photo by Sara Peach
Students Josie Hollingsworth and Hetali Lodaya brainstorm ideas.

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9. Play-Doh makes for great prototyping

I think @steven_king w/ Play-Doh lips sums up where we're at. @reesenewslab #JschoolHackathon #redninjas

— Samantha Harrington (@SamantHarrin)
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10. Professional journalists will be supportive

“When I think about students at #JschoolHackathon giving up a beautiful Saturday to make cool stuff for journalists,” Tyler Dukes, WRAL.

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11. New technology brings out the kid in everyone

Photo by Sara Peach
Dan Pacheco of the Newhouse School at Syracuse University brought his Oculus Rift headset to the hackathon.

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12. Venture capitalism makes for great dinner conversation

Photo by Sara Peach

Jimmy Goodmon of Capitol Broadcasting Company and David Jones of Bull City Venture Partners talk about investing in startups.

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13. Sales skills are valuable in any job

The takeaway from this session? Learn how to sell, kids. #JschoolHackathon

— Meredith Clark (@meredithclark)
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14. Strangers become teammates and friends

Successful first day for the team #JschoolHackathon @Zhainatyun @ashirony @asduner

— Kelci Christine (@kelci_hight)
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15. Teammates with coding skills come in handy

“Love that my team has built a data scraper with Python at #jschoolhackathon.” -Steve Johnson, University of Florida

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16. Unlike at some hackathons, people will actually sleep

So obvs, we're not tech folks. We went to sleep during #JschoolHackathon.

— Meredith Clark (@meredithclark)
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17. You need to get comfortable pitching

Sean Branagan, Director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University, teaches students how to get comfortable on stage.

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18. The final hours of competition will be fierce

You better watch your back at the #JschoolHackathon #SOSChallenge

— Alex Duner (@asduner)
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19. Excitement will build

Holy crap I'm so excited about our #JschoolHackathon pitches!

— John Clark (@johnclark)
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20. It’s hard to eat lunch when you’re nervous

Great stuff from the #jschoolhackathon. Congrats to the stellar student teams!

— NU Knight Lab (@knightlab)
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21. Pitches can make or break you

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22. Judging will get intense

Photo by Sara Peach

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23. Someone will win

WE WON #JSCHOOLHACKATHON. @nayana_davis @mattsheehan @SamantHarrin @steven_king @tom_sharkey @UNCJschool

— Steven King (@steven_king)
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24. And the most important lesson of all: The future of journalism is bright

Photo by Sara Peach

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