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OHIO’s Scripps Innovation Challenge winners announced

Apr 11, 2013

Dean Scott Titsworth, Matt Digby, Glenn Janos, Leah Petrovich, Devin Bartolotta, Ryan Vibbert, and Sarah Tranelli hold their $10,000 grand prize from Ohio University. The team competed in the Scripps Innovation Challenge, crafting a strategy  to get more young people to consume news. / Photos by Megan Westervelt

OHIO’s Scripps Innovation Challenge winners announced

Prizes totaling $20,000 awarded to contestants

By Erin Roberts

ATHENS, Ohio (April 11, 2013)—Six Ohio University students shared the $10,000 grand prize of the inaugural Scripps Innovation Challenge on April 11 after presenting their idea for a mobile alarm clock app designed to encourage young people to consume news.

Broadcast journalism seniors Devin Bartolotta, Matt Digby, Glenn Janos, Leah Petrovich, Sarah Tranelli and management information systems junior Ryan Vibbert collaborated to design an app that would allow users to receive targeted news on their mobile devices at their desired time of day. Their challenge – to Craft a Strategy to Get More Young People to Consume News – was submitted by Ogden Newspapers.

“It started out as a class project and, as the idea developed, we realized it could be so much more,” said Tranelli. “We felt really confident about our idea and hoped we could come in here and get the judges to believe in it. Our professor, Mary Rogus, was behind us every step of the way, and we thank her.”

The Scripps Innovation Challenge, a campus-wide contest sponsored by the Scripps College of Communication, provided the opportunity for students to innovate creative solutions to actual challenges from the media industry. The competition kicked off January 17 and concluded when ten finalist teams presented their ideas to a panel of industry judges. Each team had five minutes to present followed by a five-minute question and answer session with the judges, including Dennis Hetzel, executive director of the Ohio Newspaper Association; Ryan Lytle, social media producer for mashable.com; Silas Lyons, editor and VP of New Media Content for The Record Searchlight, in Redding, Calif.; and Christine Merritt, president of the Ohio Association of Broadcasters.

“I was so impressed with the work, the ideas, the poise these students had in making their presentations,” said Merritt. “I could not have done that at their ages. The other thing I thought was really impressive was the cross disciplinary nature of the contest. The innovation presented today was tremendous.”

Recognizing that innovation can come from anywhere and also from teams made up of experts in different fields, event organizers decided early on to open the contest to all Ohio University students, regardless of their major. Students also were able to compete as individuals or teams.

“The Scripps Innovation Challenge allows students to use what they’re learning in the classroom to help solve actual innovation problems submitted by media companies,” said Andy Alexander, a Scripps Visiting Professional in the college and contest organizer. “The competition is a great way to expand their education while simultaneously helping the media industry.”

Art Smith, BSJ ’83, online manager for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel and The Marietta Times and a member of the Ogden Newspapers web team, attended the challenge and was impressed with the student work and the college’s pledge to make innovation a priority.

“I think it’s great that the college is recognizing the need for media companies to innovate,” Smith said. “The students taking part in competitions like this will be some of the driving forces for media companies in the coming years. Ogden Newspapers is thrilled to be a part of it.”

Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth gave a nod to the Scripps Howard Foundation, who earmarked a $3 million endowment for innovation as part of their 2006 gift to the college.

“I could not be more proud of our students for the work they presented today,” Dean Titsworth said. “Thanks to the Scripps Howard Foundation for allowing us to think big. We couldn’t have done it without you. I can’t wait to do this again next year.”

Additional winners and the challenges they chose to tackle include:

  • Second Prize ($5,000) – Sicon Li, Andrew Winter, Ben Weibel, Justin Howell, Rose Troyer, Erica Staeuble; Create a Mobile App for Local Events, Eateries and Attractions
  • Honorable Mentions ($1,000 each)
    • Brianna DiPilato, Amy Gregory, Kaylyn Hlavaty, Chu Wu; Convince Older Newspaper Readers to Embrace Digital Products
    • Chris Pinchot, Gina Ranalli, Alex Martinez; Create a Mobile App for Local Events, Eateries and Attractions
    • Matt Forsythe, Emily Kimble; Use “Augmented Reality” to Engage Media Consumers
    • Kaity Conner, Jacob Corrigan, Isaiah Griffin, Kaitor Kposowa, Bradley Parks; Create Ways for Readers to Tailor Information to their Needs
    • Nii Kotei Nikoi, Tracy Tinga, Reda Hassan, Alicia Aikens; Craft a Strategy to Get More Young People to Consume News

For more information on the contest, visit http://innovationchallenge.scrippscollege.ohio.edu/.