2014-2015 Challenges

 

Challenge 1: Water Quality Alert

Increasingly, the quality of the water supply in communities is being threatened by toxic leaks into streams, broken septic tanks, livestock waste seeping into riverbeds or acid drainage from abandoned mines.  

The Challenge: Come up with a way for citizens who spot contaminated water to simultaneously notify water quality control officials and the local news outlet so that both are aware that a problem has been identified. Your solution should exploit one or multiple platforms (mobile, for instance) and may utilize an array of existing technologies (such as photo geo-location). The solution must also incorporate a business component that addresses the cost of developing and marketing your idea, as well as how to produce revenue to pay for it.

Challenge 2: Pushing Content to Large Groups

News organizations and advertisers can benefit greatly from being able to reach large groups of people based on their precise location. Advertisers – bars and restaurants, for example – would love to connect with fans leaving the Big Game and lure them to their establishments for drinks or a meal. News organizations would like to reach those same fans with post-game interviews or directions on how to get around the post-game traffic jams. But how can they identify these crowds?

The Challenge: Create a way to identify groups of people clustered in a specific geographic location and “push” content to them in real time. You might do this based on existing apps like Foursquare, or identifying groups based on Tweets or other social media platforms. Your solution should take advantage of the full range of existing apps, devices and platforms. Your proposed solution must detail the cost of development and marketing, plus how you propose to produce revenue to pay for it.

Challenge 3: Engaging Online Commenting

On-site comments used to be big business for many digital news organizations. But in recent years, many news organizations encouraged the movement of online comments from their websites to off-site social networks. This meant that the news organizations no longer had the burden of hosting and managing the online comments. But it also meant that they lost a substantial volume of readers, as well as the ability to engage those readers in conversations. That engagement is important. It helps increase the website’s audience, which in turn increases revenue through targeted advertising.

The Challenge: Create a solution that empowers readers to proactively leave comments within stories and drive conversations while keeping these users on the site. Your solution must take advantage of one or more platforms (desktop, mobile, tablets) and you may use existing technologies (Disqus, Kinja, RebelMouse) to accomplish this challenge. The solution to this challenge most also address the business side of the product, including costs for creation and implementation and, ideally, ways to produce revenue.

Challenge 4: Addressing Sexual Assault

Colleges and universities are paying increased attention to sexual assaults – both how to prevent them and how to respond when they occur. The goal is to educate students about the dangers and consequences, as well as the many places they can turn for help (legal, law enforcement, medical, psychological).

The Challenge: Come up with a product or communication strategy to address sexual assault. Your solution may address only a narrow aspect of sexual assault, or it can be a one-stop “clearinghouse” of information. Regardless of scope, it must be rooted in technological innovation (a mobile app, for instance, or a social media strategy). Your solution must address the costs of development and marketing, as well as ways that it can produce revenue to pay its way.

Challenge 5: Engaging High School Students in Electoral Politics

Many high school students will be eligible to vote in the next presidential election. In the coming year, candidates will gear up campaigns and the media will provide saturation coverage. Yet if history is a guide, high school students will not be deeply engaged – even though many will be able to vote on Election Day in 2016. 

The Challenge: Create a product or communication strategy to teach high school students about presidential electoral politics and get them engaged and motivated to cast their first ballots. Your solution can rely on the full range of technological devices at your disposal – apps, digital gaming, social media. You must fully explain the cost of developing and marketing your idea, as well as how it will produce revenue to either cover your costs or, hopefully, produce a profit.

Challenge 6: Navigating Communication Majors/Jobs

Given the constant changes in the fields of journalism and communication studies, it’s hard for high school and undecided college students to know how to chart the best path through the myriad courses and majors. They know they need the basics. But they’re often bewildered about how their interests and passions might translate into a communications major and prepare them to land a job and launch a successful career after graduation.

The Challenge: Develop a technology that helps students navigate career choices in communication, new media and technologies. For example, it might be a kind of flow chart or recommendation engine – “If you’re interested in X, consider Y” – that gives students guidance for whatever form of media they hope to embrace. You must spell out the costs of developing and marketing your solution, and it must be developed in a way that it produces revenue or otherwise pays for itself.

 

 

 

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