HackJersey to Bring Coders and Journalists Together

Have an idea for an app, data visualization or new media that will organize newsworthy data or deliver important stories to readers in a better way?

Then you’ll want to take part in Hack Jersey, the first hackathon in the state to invite journalists and coders to collaborate on teams to build projects that could transform the way people use data and experience news in the Garden State.

The idea for the hackathon began to take shape during a conversation between Debbie Galant, director of the NJ News Commons at Montclair State University, and Tom Meagher, data editor at Digital First Media, at the Online News Association conference this September. A few people had previously suggested the idea to Galant, a former New York Times Columnist and the founder of the online local website Baristanet.com. who is always looking at what’s next in journalism.

“What I’m really excited about with Hack Jersey is recruiting non-programmers to work side by side with programmers and be real members of the team,” Galant said. “You don’t have to know how to program to be involved. All you have to do is be interested in how to use technology to tell stories.

“This is the cutting edge of journalism, where a lot of the really smart people in journalism are going these days,” she said. “The event will be like play — like a a game or a contest. Is is designed to be fun and creative.”

Teams of up to five people will have 24 hours to work on a project on the weekend of Jan. 25-27 at Montclair State University. Participants will have the opportunity to meet up at the pre-hack party Friday, Jan. 25. The next morning they will break into teams and have 24 hours to create their open source projects (note: you might want to bring your Red Bull, chocolate covered espresso beans and a sleeping bag).

A panel of media and tech judges will choose the winners Sunday afternoon, Jan. 27. The judges will be looking for teams that build a compelling project by integrating technology, journalism, and open data. You’ll go far if your project is well-designed, compelling, well-presented, and relevant to the theme. You’ll go farther if you tapped both journalists and coders to make your project, and if your project is relevant to the state of New Jersey or the causes and aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

Registration opened this morning and is being done through Eventbrite.

The primary sponsor of the event is the NJ News Commons. Partners include Planet Princeton, NJSpotlight, the Amplification Project, DigitalFirst Media, Echo, the NJ Tech Meetup. Broadstreet Ads, CARTODB, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and New Jersey Public Radio.

To keep up with the latest details on the event, follow Hack Jersey on Twitter @hackjersey, and sign up to be on the mailing list. If you would like to become a sponsor, please send an email to the organizers at hackinfo@hackjersey.com.