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Student Media Innovation Contest offers $20,000 in prizes

Ohio University students will compete for $20,000 in cash prizes with the mid-January kick off of the Scripps Innovation Challenge, one of the nation's most unique contests to come up with creative
solutions to problems posed by media companies.

The competition officially opens Jan. 17 when students will be able to access an interactive Website listing an array of innovation problems – or "challenges – submitted by media companies. Working individually or in teams, students will choose "challenges" they wish to tackle and will have roughly two months to come up with their solutions before the competition closes March 13.

Ten finalists will be selected the following week. In mid-April, they will present their solutions to a panel of industry judges during a live "pitch competition" open to the public on the Ohio University campus. By the end of the day, the judges will award a $10,000 first prize, a $5,000 second prize and five $1,000 "honorable mention" prizes.

Unlike many college innovation competitions, the Scripps Innovation Challenge is open to all students regardless of their major. Also, each entry must include an evaluation of the business aspects of the proposed solution.

"We opened it to all students because we recognize that some of the most creative media innovation solutions may come from non-journalism majors, like those studying engineering or business," said contest coordinator Andy Alexander.

"And by requiring a business evaluation, we're reminding students that there's a cost attached to innovation," he said. "Someone must pay for development and implementation, and ideally there should
be a potential revenue stream." Alexander, a former ombudsman for The Washington Post, is an Ohio University graduate ('72) and is a visiting professional in its E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

The goal of the competition is for students to provide creative solutions to actual innovation problems from the media industry. During December, broadcast, print and online media companies began submitting their "challenges."

Among them:

  • Several major television stations are seeking innovative ways to engage college-age "Millennials" who increasingly prefer viewing television on a mobile device rather than a TV set.

  • A newspaper is searching for ways to monetize its large Twitter audience.

  • A multi-media company is looking for creative ways to engage younger readers in submitting news items.

  • A broadcast company wants fresh strategies for generating revenues using existing AM radio signals.

Student competitors are being encouraged to offer solutions that take full advantage of the range of new media platforms, tools, technologies and applications being used today. These might include
gaming, interactive graphics, geo-based media and all aspects of social media.

The Scripps Innovation Challenge is managed by Ohio University's Scripps College of Communication and grew out of a $3 million endowment for media innovation from the Scripps Howard Foundation.