Melody Kramer

#MediaInContext: Al Jazeera’s Hackathon in Qatar

01 Dec 2014 by melodyjoykramer

Over the past few days, I followed tweets coming out of Doha, Qatar at a media innovation hackathon put on by Al Jazeera. This was quite easy, because Phillip Smith wrote up his detailed notes to prepare for the hackathon, which offered  12 possible challenges for participants to explore:

  1. Giving voice to the voiceless with data
  2. Putting things back in context
  3. What’s in the news today, Hal?
  4. Mapping an understanding
  5. Media on the move
  6. Looking at the numbers
  7. Smarter headlines
  8. Archive archaeology
  9. Think outside the comment box
  10. Discovering history and culture
  11. Fully immersed in media
  12. Do you trust your media

My favorite ideas to come out of the hackathon:

  • Lasertag, which helps make archival stories more relevant through structured data and text mining. (github)
  • Hakawati, which is kind of like Siri for news.
  • StreetStories, which allows you to explore news stories through sound and place
  • Headitor, which customizes headlines for editors and makes it much easier to put keywords in headlines
  • tinyfm, which brings the web back to radio. Like terrestrial radio.
  •, which surfaces relevant information about subjects to reporters/the audience using a variety of APIs

I had trouble picking these six. As you can see, all of the ideas that came out of this hackathon were quite good. And they’re all open source, so you can use them in your newsroom!

As an aside, this is the inaugural entry on my new website. I’ll be focusing on the future of news, projects that interest me, and great examples I see from others in the news industry. Welcome! 

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