Montclair State University hosted “Hack Jersey,” New
Jersey’s first ever journalist-tech hackathon, over the weekend of January 26.
The sold-out event—sponsored and hosted by the NJ News Commons at Montclair State
University, in partnership with Knight-Mozilla Open News—was a 24-hour
competition, allowing groups of journalists and software coders to team together
to create original projects that could transform the way New Jersey residents
use data and experience news.
Each project was presented to an all-star panel of five
judges from the news and technology industries and graded based on specific
criteria. At the end of the competition, awards were given to the top projects
in five categories:
- Best Overall Project – Crash Data NJ, a tool that analyzes car accident data along New Jersey’s major highways and determines which areas are the “most dangerous.”
- Best Design – Cost of Radiology in NJ, a website that looks at the cost of different medical procedures by county.
- Best Story – The Feed, an app for LGBT communities in New Jersey to report bias and harassment.
- People’s Choice – Because of Us, a website that examines gun violence data and gun laws for local areas in New Jersey and enables the user to tweet at their local legislators.
- Best Project Relating to Superstorm Sandy – Hack Sandy NJ, a program that analyzed average property values, taxes and population of towns hit by Superstorm Sandy.
Co-created by Debbie Galant, director of the NJ News
Commons, and Tom Meagher, data editor at Digital First Media, Hack Jersey was
originated to produce groundbreaking news products and data visualization
applications and to encourage government entities to use technology to provide
the public with more data.
“The economics of the news industry are tough these days,
but the digital tools have created a whole new dimension for the practice of
journalism,” said Galant. “The web has created fabulous opportunities for
Soon after the idea for Hack Jersey was originated, dozens
of volunteers from news organizations, nonprofits and tech startup companies
across the state helped organize the event and obtain sponsorships. In addition
to major sponsorship from the NJ News Commons and Knight-Mozilla OpenNews, Hack
Jersey secured sponsorships from The
Star-Ledger, The Record, CartoDB
and O’Reilly Media. An additional ten organizations were instrumental in the
planning of Hack Jersey: Digital First Media, The Amplification Project, NJ
Spotlight, Echolocation, Broadstreet Ads, Planet Princeton, New Jersey
Institute of Technology, The Citizens Campaign, TechLaunch and the Hoboken
The panel of judges for the competition was comprised of
Chris Ackermann of Facebook, Aaron Price of NJ Tech Meetup, Jim Schachter of
WNYC, Emily Bell of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and the
Tow Center for Digital Journalism and Jonathan Soo of New Agora and NJ
Spotlight. The event was bookended with keynote addresses given by Matt Ericson
of The New York Times and Stephen
Engelberg and Jeff Larson of ProPublica.
For more information, visit www.hackjersey.com.
Read an article about the event in The Star-Ledger.