Africa: Among Winners in Al Jazeera's Canvas Hackathon

December 10, 2014, an integrated story development environment for reporters, takes prize at Al Jazeera's inaugural hackathon

(Eva Constantaras, Internews Data Journalism Advisor, was part of a team that developed an award-winning media solution at an Al Jazeera hackathon, as described in this article from AllAfrica). 

Canvas, Al Jazeera's inaugural hackathon, concluded last week with 19 teams presenting innovative solutions in the fields of media and technology. - developed by Kenya's Eva Constantaras and South Africa's Friedrich Lindenberg - was among the winners., an integrated story development environment for reporters, won the prize for 'Greatest Potential For Use.' Their other collaborators included Kasia Dybek, Bruno Faviero, Heinze Havinga and Phillip Smith.

Reem Al Mansouri, chair of the judging panel and board member of Al Jazeera Media Network, announced the five winning projects at the event in the Qatar National Convention Centre. Mansouri said: "The judges faced difficulty in choosing the winning projects because of the high level of innovation and excellence. The winners were decided by small margins, which is evidence of the quality of the participants and their work."

The closing ceremony was attended by Al Jazeera's acting director general Mostefa Souag. In his closing remarks, Dr Souag said: "2015 will be the year of digital media for Al Jazeera. The Al Jazeera Innovation and Research initiative is a step in this direction, and is one of the network's corporate objectives. Al Jazeera is committed to sponsoring and supporting this global community of innovators. This isn't just for al Jazeera's benefit, it helps the world of media as whole."

Dr Yaser Bishr, executive director of strategy and development, said: "Al Jazeera has been known for innovation. We realize that leading only in content is insufficient, so we are trying to lead the intersection between technology and media. The hackathon is part of this. We at Al Jazeera are reinventing the way and style media is delivered, and this is just a start."

Dr Bishr also announced a few other initiatives, including the establishment of an open digital platform where journalists, innovators and developers can share ideas.

Ninety participants - including designers, innovators and journalists - were chosen from 37 countries for the hackathon. Some 1,600 people applied from around the world to participate. After three days of continuous work within teams to develop solutions and innovative projects for the challenges that the organisers designed, the panel of judges chose five projects for the major prizes. These were:

  • Most innovative - Perspectives (Discover different takes on news events)
  • Greatest Potential for Use - (An integrated story development environment for reporters)
  • Greatest Impact and Disruption - Tiny FM (For local experiences on air)
  • Highest Technical and Design Quality - Reporta (Your news, your way)
  • Best Embodiment of Values and Ethics - Acumen (Uncover your news)

The submissions can be viewed here, where the public can also vote for the People's Choice Award until January 15, 2015.