A Hundred Journalists, Developers to Assemble for NJ’s First-ever Journalist-Tech "Hackathon" at Montclair State January 26

The 24-Hour competition presents teams with opportunity to create original projects combining technology, journalism and open data

Montclair State University will host New Jersey’s first ever journalist-tech hackathon, titled “Hack Jersey.” One-hundred participants from the New Jersey and New York area have signed up to compete in the sold-out event that kicks off on Saturday, January 26, for 24 non-stop hours.

Hack Jersey – sponsored and hosted by the NJ News Commons at Montclair State University, in partnership with Knight-Mozilla Open News – is 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 will be presented to an all-star panel of four judges from the news and technology industries and graded based on specific criteria. At the end of the competition, awards will be given to the top projects in five categories: Best Overall Project; Best Design; Best Story; People’s Choice; and Best Project Relating to Superstorm Sandy and its Aftermath.

Co-created by Debbie Galant, director of the NJ News Commons, and Tom Meagher, data editor at Digital First Media, Hack Jersey is intended 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 non-linear storytelling.”

Soon after the idea for Hack Jersey originated, dozens of volunteers from news organizations, nonprofits and tech start-up 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 10 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 MakerBar.

The panel of judges for the competition is comprised of Chris Ackermann of Facebook, Aaron Price of NJ Tech Meetup, Jim Schachter of WNYC and Emily Bell of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. The event is bookended with keynote addresses given by Matt Ericson of The New York Times and Stephen Engelberg and Jeff Larson of ProPublica.

For more information on the event, visit www.hackjersey.com. Read an article in The Star-Ledger here.


The NJ News Commons is an initiative of the Center for Cooperative Media. The Center, based at Montclair State University's School of Communication and Media, is designed to support and expand news and information in the state. The Center for Cooperative Media also offers University students unique opportunities to cover the region and provides hands-on access to local bureaus of some of the area’s major news organizations.

The NJ News Commons was created to foster collaboration between New Jersey's news organizations and help strengthen the voice of New Jersey. In October, the Commons drew multiple sources of news and social media into a live Hurricane Sandy blog that ran on sites throughout the state. In November, it led an initiative to see how storm damage was affecting voting. The Commons has also created a platform that allows news sites to distribute each other’s stories, and produces a daily newsletter curating the best stories that appear online each day.