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Journalism School Hackathon at Arizona State

MediaShift Training Network

Friday, February 27, 2015 at 6:00 PM - Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 2:00 PM (MST)

Journalism School Hackathon at Arizona State

Ticket Information

Ticket Type Sales End Price Fee Quantity
Student ticket Ended $69.00 $4.79
Professional or faculty ticket Ended $129.00 $8.09

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Event Details

Can journalism and communications schools help shape the next generation of media entrepreneurs? Many schools have created special “labs” and innovation centers and are running courses aimed at building startups — and a startup mentality. But how can they share knowledge, improve skills and have fun doing it? MediaShift is producing our second annual Journalism School Hackathon on the February 27-March 1, 2015 weekend, co-produced and hosted by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University in Phoenix. We’re convening a group of top students, faculty and professionals for the weekend Hackathon, with a real-world mission of creating sustainable media projects that reach underserved populations. Students will have a chance to collaborate on diverse teams of students with faculty and pro facilitators. And they will be able to create media projects in one of three threads: data, gaming or audience engagement.



Retha Hill is the executive director of the New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.  Retha is a 2012 AEJMC/Knight Innovations Award grant winner and a 2010 Knight News Challenge winner for creating SeedSpeak, a platform for location-based collaboration, and a 2010 J-Lab Women Entrepreneurs grant winner for a mobile app that uses Augmented Reality to find black history in cities across the country. Hill is a Fellow for the ASU Center for Games and Impact, where she is helping to develop news game modules for the news industry. Hill joined the ASU faculty in 2007 after eight years at BET, where she was vice president for content for BET Interactive. Follow her on Twitter @rethahill.

mike alonzo headshotMike Alonzo is a founding partner at User10, helping entrepreneurs take the right action through idea development, concept validation, and MVP development. Mike also serves as the Chief Operating Officer at Storybyte, a mobile platform that automatically turns the photos already on your phone into beautiful web stories. Passionate about the PHX entrepreneurial community, Mike continues to give back with other projects including PHXMADE and #yesphx. Follow him on Twitter @mikealonzo.

alan lobock headshotAlan Lobock is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor best known for co-founding SkyMall. He contributes to WSJ Accelerator and other publications. Alan previously was co-founder of Convrrt, Inc., a SaaS focused on quick and economical landing page creation and optimization to improve conversion of leads into sales. He has served as an advisory board member for several startups and has mentored startups through Seed Spot and Arizona State University’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group. Follow him on Twitter@alanlobock.


From the students, faculty and pros assembled, we’ll create “dream teams” with people from various schools on one team. Each team will have a mix of necessary disciplines — editor/producer, designer, tech person, business-savyy pro or faculty facilitator — who will learn to work together in the crucible of the weekend hackathon. The weekend will be a combination of focused talks and training from innovation leaders and experts, work sessions and final presentations of solutions from each team. Faculty and industry experts will provide expertise to each team and help them rapidly develop their solution. Judges will pick a winning team, which will be featured in PBS MediaShift. Judging will be weighted most heavily on teams coming up with viable business solutions to reach underserved communities — e.g. disabled, elderly, non-English speakers, rural areas, economically disadvantaged people.

Note: Registration sales can be refunded for cancellations 2 weeks before the event date. Any refunds thereafter will only be for 50% of the sale price.


The hackathon will be hosted by ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix. The school is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier professional journalism programs. Rooted in the time-honored values that characterize its namesake — accuracy, responsibility, objectivity, integrity — the school is a leader in journalism education with its innovative use of the teaching hospital model, for which it has received international acclaim. The school’s full-immersion professional programs give students opportunities to practice what they’ve learned in intensive real-world settings under the guidance of top-flight professionals.

The school also has a Public Insight Network bureau and a New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab, which will send faculty and students to participate in the hackathon. The intention for the hackathon this year is to build on the success of last year’s 1st Annual J-School Hackathon at University of North Carolina, and include students from various schools around the country.

winners 1st hackathon

Winners from the first annual J-School Hackathon at UNC


All journalism and communications schools are invited to attend the hackathon, as well as journalists, editors, technologists, entrepreneurs and others with an interest in networking, collaboration and innovation. The following schools have expressed an interest in the Hackathon, and some have already registered:

University of North Carolina’s Reese News Lab

American University School of Communication

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Northern Arizona University

University of Florida

Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University

University of Nevada-Reno

Biola University

Point Loma Nazarene University

Newhouse School of Communication at Syracuse

Knight Lab at Medill/Northwestern

University of Missouri

Georgetown University


Travel and housing costs are up to participants, but we have secured a special discount rate at the nearby Hotel San Carlos. Go to our travel information page for more information!

If you are a student in need of funds to attend the Hackathon, we have $500 travel scholarships available for 10 students. Please apply here for a scholarship!


Friday, February 27 to Sunday, March 1, 2015

Plan to arrive Friday, Feb. 27, in the evening with an official start early Saturday morning and ending Sunday afternoon at 2 pm with plenty of travel time.


If you are interested in sponsoring the Hackathon, please contact MediaShift sponsorship manager Scott Raynovich at scott [at] rayno [dot] com.


This is a working outline and subject to change.

Friday, February 27th

  • 6 to 8 pm: Mixer at local accelerator in Phoenix.

Saturday, February 28th

  • 8:00 – Light breakfast/gathering
  • 8:30 – Kickoff
    • Welcome: Explain rules and logistics; presentation of challenge
    • 9:00 – Speaker Session 1 – Design Thinking & Brainstorming
    • 9:30 – Work on teams
    • 12:30 – Lunch: Speaker Session 2 – Turning an Idea into a Product or Service
    • 1:30 – Work on teams
    • 6:00 – Dinner: Speaker Session 3 – Venture Capitalism and Funding Media
    • 7:00 – Work on teams; facilitators out for social hour
    • 10:00 – Day one ends.

Sunday, March 1st

  • 8:00 – Light breakfast: Speaker Session 4 – Pitching Your Idea
  • 9:00 – Work on presentation
  • 11:30 – Lunch for judges
  • 12:00 – Deadline for project submissions; lunch and team pitches (4 mins each)
    • Judging
    • Announcement of winners

Official end of Hackathon: 2 pm

Have questions about Journalism School Hackathon at Arizona State? Contact MediaShift Training Network
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When & Where

Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix
555 N Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Friday, February 27, 2015 at 6:00 PM - Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 2:00 PM (MST)

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MediaShift Training Network

The MediaShift Training Network (MTN) offers customized solutions to meet the needs of media organizations, schools and individuals who want to stay abreast of the latest innovations in media. Trainers for the network are experts in their field and located around the country for easy travel to your newsroom locations. They are people with experience working in newsrooms, training professionals and students, and recognized as leaders in the field.

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