5 Students to Participate in MediaShift Journalism School Hackathon

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The Goal Is to Create Sustainable Media Projects That Reach Underserved Populations

By Caroline Murray

Columbia, Mo. (Feb. 20, 2015) — Three journalism and two computer science students will represent the University of Missouri at the second annual MediaShift Journalism School Hackathon.

Julia Duncan, Katie Jones, Siqi Lin, Jenny Sanchez and Lawrence Williams were selected to participate in the weekend-long event at Arizona State University in Phoenix. Sanchez, a graduate student, and Jones and Lin, both seniors, are students in the School of Journalism. Williams and Duncan, also seniors, are studying computer science.

PBS MediaShiftThe goal of the Hackathon, which will be attended by students from more than a dozen schools, is to create sustainable media projects that reach underserved populations.

The students in attendance will be divided into teams to achieve this goal, working together throughout the course of the weekend to develop the ideas for the products they will pitch at the culmination of the event. The winning team will be featured in PBS MediaShift.

To assist the students, faculty and industry professionals will also be in attendance to provide expertise. Students will begin the weekend with training and talks from successful entrepreneurs such as Retha Hill, Mike Alonzo, Alan Lobock and Elizabeth Mays.

“I am excited to learn from these leaders and be able to take that into the work force to help me with my teamwork and brainstorming skills,” Duncan said. “I think they will provide valuable insight to more innovative ways of thinking.”

Students said the opportunity to interact with industry professionals is part of what makes the Hackathon such a valuable opportunity.

“There is a great networking element to it,” Sanchez said. “The connections and things you learn under pressure can definitely advance you to the next step in your career path.”

Reuben Stern, deputy director of the Futures Lab at the Reynolds Journalism Institute and convergence journalism adjunct faculty member, said that the ever-evolving digital landscape has changed the importance of the channel of delivery. He said the way in which journalism is delivered has become a central part of journalism itself, and students are eager to take advantage of the power in new digital channels.

“I’m really passionate about developing a good digital product that makes people’s lives easier,” Lin said. “I think this experience will motivate me to be more innovative, which will be a great asset as I work to achieve my career goals.”

Each of the selected students was previously or is currently enrolled in the University of Missouri’s collaborative mobile applications development course, a joint initiative of the School of Journalism and the Information Technology program in the College of Engineering‘s Department of Computer Science.

“The class puts journalism and computer science and information technology students together to learn the process of designing and building iOS platform mobile apps,” Stern said. “The course covers the entire process of developing digital products, so there is good alignment between participation in the Hackathon and the material covered in the course.”

The MediaShift Journalism School Hackathon will take place Feb. 27 to March 1 at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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