Sunday Times wins GEN Editors' Challenge

2013-09-09 14:46
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The team from the Sunday Times won the first prize at the Global Editors' Network (GEN) hackathon in Cape Town on Saturday.

The event was hosted by parent and several teams were tasked with brainstorming ideas that would engage news consumers.

The PartyMatch winning application was designed by the all-women team from the Sunday Times. The app, modelled on a dating game, is designed to "help" South Africans find the political party that best matches their interests.

The team has won a R20 000 prize as well as a trip to Spain to compete in the finals of the GEN Summit and Global Data Journalism Awards in Barcelona.

Unlike a regular hackathon, the event was not only open to developers.

World-class solutions

"There are no real prerequisites to participate, so the best ones are the ones who are already working with the newsroom or inside the newsroom," Antoine Laurent, GEN deputy director, in charge of innovation told News24.

He said that developing countries like SA had the capacity to produce world-class digital solutions, despite not always access to the latest technology or markets.

"To answer simply, yes, I think developing countries and South Africa have the potential to produce that kind of applications, most particularly because we're not talking about big tech companies in Silicon Valley," said Laurent who was also a judge for the event.

The growth of digital, and mobile in particular, has been challenging for media companies and the hackathon was a way of coming up with solutions that may improve the way companies and consumers interact.

"You have these very high standards but in all countries we visit, you also have these media organisations struggling with digital content and innovation," Laurent said.

The Sunday Times team comprised journalist Loni Prinsloo, designer Fiona Krisch and developer  Carla Goldstein and the judges acknowledged the Media24 Digital team for their SMS payment solution Buyline, and to Jason Norwood-Young, who was deserted by his Daily Maverick team.

"The winning team produced an excellent app, with a great editorial idea and a smooth and clever implementation, and the overall outcome of the contest is of very high editorial and technical standards, with a majority of finished working prototypes almost ready to be published," said Laurent.

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