A year of journalism hackathon innovation

Season six of Editors Lab has been one for the books! Talented journalists, designers, and developers from all over the world have collaborated on high-impact ideas to prototype the future of news. We have conducted exciting hackathons this year in Lisbon, Cape Town, Madrid, Sydney, Jakarta, Bucharest, Seoul, Tokyo, and our first-ever Editors Labs in Beirut and São Paulo. Here are the projects that earned one team from each Editors Lab a ticket to Lisbon and a spot to compete in the Editors Lab Final.

Connecting with local communities 🇦🇺

Newsroom Hotline uses voice-to-text tech to better visualise a tip-off line. Try it here.

Who?

Seven West Media

Where?

Walkley Editors Lab, Sydney

What’s the problem?

It’s often too difficult for people to tip off journalists. Staff shortages mean that there is often nobody available in the newsroom to take phone calls.

What’s the solution?

Newsroom Hotline is a telephone number that anybody can call to share story tip offs or provide feedback directly to journalists. It uses a voice-to-text service that transcribes the recorded message and sends it to the newsdesk.

How does it work?

  • The transcribed messages are quickly published on a dashboard accessed by journalists on the news desk 24/7.
  • It displays the caller’s phone number, time of call, the transcript, and attaches the audio recording.
  • If the caller rings from a mobile phone or provides their mobile number, they will receive two SMS updates. The first SMS confirms that the tip off has been received and the second states whether further action will be taken.

Why is it interesting?

The solution does not discriminate: the hotline is open to everyone helping news to truly represent the community. The use of natural language processing also opens up many possibilities, such as translation, which will allow the tool to scale.


Fighting against misinformation, disinformation, and the bots that spread them 🇧🇷

Trueet identifies which of your friends might be spreading misinformation and enables you to warn them. Try it here.

Who?

Infoglobo

Where?

Globo Editors Lab, São Paulo

What’s the problem?

According to recent research from USP, 12 million profiles in Brazil regularly share dis/misinformation. This is particularly worrying before elections taking place in a period of political turmoil.

What’s the solution?

The Trueet (true + tweet) tool by Infoglobo is a Progressive Web App (PWA) that helps Twitter users debunk false information that is spread throughout their network.

How does it work?

  • When fact checkers identify false information and write about it, Trueet sends a notification to its users with a brief message about the false information and a link to the verification.
  • It then scans the user’s Twitter timeline and identifies publications and retweets that are disseminating this specific piece of false information.
  • Finally, it allows the user to send automatically generated posts to their friends warning them about it.

Why is it interesting?

‘Popular social networks make it difficult for people to judge the credibility of any message, because posts from publications as unlike as the New York Times and a conspiracy site look nearly identical. This means that people are increasingly reliant on friends and family members to guide them through the information ecosystem’, wrote Claire Wardle and Hossein Derakhshan. Trueet has understood this phenomenon by providing a user friendly tool for those who want to debunk false information within their networks.


Covering Elections 🇮🇩

Leader Match lets you swipe on the issues you care about to help you choose a candidate who you agree with. Try it here.

Who?

Tempo

Where?

Jakarta Editors Lab

What’s the problem?

Indonesia has a particularly young population with a median age of 28.3 years. But data shows that less than half of those between the ages of 17 and 29 voted in the 2014 legislative elections compared with around 90 percent of those over 30.

What’s the solution?

Leader Match by Tempo — a Tinder of sorts for political affinities — matches the user to a candidate.

How does it work?

Users are presented with a series of political issues and can swipe right or left depending on their stance. The user is then presented with the candidates that are closely aligned with their views.

Why is it interesting?

The tool helps particularly young voters be more aware of political parties and their candidates. It also triggers their critical thinking as it makes them assess their views on certain topics.


Holding public powers accountable 🇷🇴

Who?

România de la ZerO

Where?

Bucharest Editors Lab

What’s the problem?

There’s a lack of transparency around state funding of religious institutions in Romania.

What’s the solution?

Să fie lumină / Let there be light by Dela0 is a mapping project that gives insight into the amount of public money pumped into religious institutions.

Let there be light illuminates public spending on religious institutions. Try it here.

How does it work?

As local data is gathered, the map will gradually light up, county by county. The process of collecting the public data takes time, as it needs to be collected from small councils in Romania.

Why is it interesting?

The team will spend time travelling around Romania collecting the data; a time consuming investigative task that will be transformed into an elegant visualisation. The beautiful design serves to pull in the reader, allowing them to emotionally understand the issue at hand and the work that goes into this kind of investigation.


Wildfire Reporting 🇵🇹

Who?

Público & Bright Pixel

Where?

Público Editors Lab, Lisbon

What’s the problem?

Wildfires in Portugal took the lives of 114 people last year. Newsrooms covering wildfires in Portugal have very little time and resources to manage the information overflow.

What’s the solution?

523, Fire data with context — built by Público and Bright Pixel allows journalists to search and compare many data points from various municipalities at a glance to contextualise each new fire outbreak.

523 is a one stop dashboard for journalists reporting on fires in remote regions. Try it here.

How does it work?

On the platform, you will be able to search for the municipality where the fire started and find additional information, such as previous fires, demographic data, meteorological data, local news etc.

Why is it interesting?

Most journalists have often never visited the remote places they’re being sent to report on before.The dashboard elegantly compiles reliable information from a number of different sources and visualises it well, making the journo’s job that much easier.



Fact-checking and fighting misinformation 🇯🇵

Who?

Nippon Broadcasting System

Where?

Tokyo Editors Lab

What’s the problem?

Quotes by people in the public eye are often taken out of context meaning news reports sometimes lack nuance or misrepresent facts.

What’s the solution?

CATALANA is a plug-in created by Nippon Broadcasting System that locates the original audio source from quotations cited in articles.

How does it work?

Quotes can be run through the plug-in, which uses text matching and speech to text analysis, to find the original audio source.

Why is it interesting?

A lot of news content stems from spoken comments from people in the public eye, yet we haven’t seen many prototypes about misinformation via audio. The tool is useful for fact-checkers and the general public alike.


Engagement and community building 🇰🇷

Who?

Money Today

Where?

Seoul Editors Lab

What’s the problem?

Comment sections on articles are not engaging enough and spaces to read and comment are fragmented in Korea, as a result of portal sites, which users have come to depend on for everything from food shopping to reading the news.

Solution

Money Today’s hack ‘Connection’ is a chatroom that gathers readers who are engaging with the same article on different sites in one place.

How does it work?

Readers have access to the chatroom via a Chrome extension or a mobile app.

Why is it interesting?

The tool makes the commenting experience more user-friendly and engaging leading to livelier conversations. Journalists can use the discussions to enrich their coverage, giving them more ideas for stories.


Holding public powers accountable 🇱🇧

Who?

Al Jadeed

Where?

Beirut Editors Lab

What’s the problem?

Lebanon’s political class is riddled with corruption and nepotism in a climate of soaring national debt, poor public services, and public resentment. The status quo is unlikely to change.

What’s the solution?

Politithon — built by Al Jadeed, is an app that highlights positive achievements of ministers to encourage them to do better.

How does it work?

Five political representatives go up against each other on the app: their achievements are tracked and the one that sticks to their promises the most wins.

Why is it interesting?

The app is a visual and entertaining way of looking at political accountability; a serious topic that is often reported on in a dull way. Solutions journalism has the power to strengthen engagement. It also sets a bar for what citizens should expect from institutions or governments.


Covering breaking news events 🇪🇸

Who?

laSexta / Maldita.es

Where?

El Confidencial Editors Lab, Madrid

What’s the problem?

During the rush hour of breaking news, many journalism standards, such as meticulous fact-checking, story contextualisation, and thorough reporting can become difficult to maintain.

What’s the solution?

Breaking Hoaxes is a webapp for newsroom editors to access and report accurate information in moments of crisis, and it debunks misinformation close to real-time.

How does it work?

  • The app collects information from several sources — social networks, websites, press releases — and categorises it as information from official sources, reliable sources, or sources on the ground.
  • All that information is indexed on a database, making it available for quick searches.
  • When new data comes up from unknown sources, the user can check in seconds if that information has been confirmed by trusted sources.

Why is it interesting?

The tool is light and mobile friendly making it particularly adaptable for breaking news and field use.


Misinformation, the war on truth 🇿🇦

Who?

Eyewitness News

Where?

Media Indaba Editors Lab, Cape Town

What’s the problem?

On private messaging apps, it’s difficult to track whether misinformation is being shared and by whom. Whatsapp groups are limited to 256 people, meaning fact-checkers (and Whatsapp themselves) are struggling to see where dis/information goes viral. On top of this, messages on the platform are automatically encrypted.

What’s the solution?

Ukweli — built by Eyewitness News, is a Chrome extension that detects suspect information and flags it in messenger apps, so the user can make an informed decision about whether to pass it on.

How does it work?

The tool uses machine learning to flag questionable content on private messaging apps. The user can select a piece of text and the tool lets you know if the message is a hoax chain text, misinformation, or spam.

Why is it interesting?

A lot of misinformation comes from dark social networks that aren’t really monitored, such as WhatsApp and Facebook messenger. The tool empowers individuals and gives them the tools to stop the spread of misinformation.


The GEN Editors Lab programme is a worldwide series of hackathons hosted by leading news organisations such as BBC, El País, The New York Times and Süddeutsche Zeitung. Editors Lab brings together developers, journalists and designers from top newsrooms to build news prototypes during an intensive two-day competition. The Global Editors Network has already run five successful Editors Lab seasons. The sixth season runs from October 2017 to June 2018.