Editors' Challenge calls for SA news solutions

Cape Town - Developers are being challenged to come up with solutions facing the production and engagement of news in South Africa with an Editors' Challenge on Friday and Saturday.

The Global Editors' Network is running the competition in various countries this year and local winners will be flown to Barcelona in 2014 for a final competition.

"It's really a global programme to help and promote and give credit to people creating innovative content in the news room," Antoine Laurent, GEN deputy director, in charge of innovation told News24.

The challenge is being hosted by News24 parent 24.com at its Cape Town offices and is modelled on the Editors' Lab New York held from 20 - 21 April 2013, as well as other locations.

Participants are required to build projects related to the business of news and building engagement with consumers.

World class

Laurent said that SA had the capacity to produce world class applications.

"Yes, I think developing countries - and South Africa - have the potential to produce that kind of application, most particularly because we're not talking here about big tech companies, we're really talking about media organisations."

In New York, the Chicago Tribune's team produced a Game Centre application that allowed users to engage with news content through a question-and-answer format.

In SA, 14 teams will participate in the event, including teams from the Cape Times, the South African Press Association, Eyewitness News, the SABC, and News24.

There will also be a Google Hangout conducted during the event where internet users can interact with the process and ask questions.

Winners of the local hack day will earn themselves a R20 000 prize as well as a trip to Spain in 2014 for the Final Editors' Lab Hackathon.

The event is open to teams comprising journalists and designers, as well as developers to create interactive content that resonates with news consumers.

Mobile

"We really want the teams to be multi-disciplinary so it's very different from a classical hack day where you would only have developers," said Laurent who is also one of the competition judges.

He said that mobile adaptability was critical for applications. Mobile internet is growing exponentially and new users are likely to experience the internet via a mobile device.

"We often say, if you produce something and it's not working on mobile, it means it's broken. Mobile is of course, one of the priorities of all of the interactive news applications we would like to see produced."


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