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Editors’ Lab Cape Town: 1st Sub-Saharan Africa media hackday

Editors’ Lab Cape Town is a two-day hackathon taking place from 6-7 September that will be taking place in the city at’s digital headquarters and is organised by the Global Editors Network, the African Media Initiative and Google. The collaboration includes 14 teams competing to create the most innovative news-driven mobile app or website.

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The teams will use public data or other content to build mobile apps or digital tools that help audiences become ‘active citizens’ by better understanding or engaging with the world around them. Preliminary ideas submitted by teams range from mobile apps to help citizens report corruption, bribes or potholes, to tools for helping citizens track election promises made by politicians, and tools for choosing schools and then monitoring their performance.

The teams that will be competing will include three people from each of the 14 media associations. There will be four teams from Media24 including Media24 Digital News, Media24 Magazines Digital Division, News24, and City Press divisions. Other teams include BDFM (the publishers of Business Day and Financial Mail), the Cape Times, Daily Maverick, the Eyewitness News (from Talk Radio 702 and CapeTalk FM), the Oxpeckers Center for Environmental Investigative Journalism, SABC Digital News, the South African Press Association (Sapa), the Sunday Times, and West Cape News. The Johannesburg chapter of digital newsroom pioneers, Hacks/Hackers, is also sending a team.

AMI’s Justin Arenstein manages the continent’s largest newsroom innovation program, and says the following:

“The exciting thing about the South African hackathon is that it isn’t just the big media who are competing: smaller grassroots newsrooms like WCN and Oxpeckers are also sending teams, as are journalist associations like Hacks/Hackers. We’re hoping to find some great ideas here, that we can help scale globally through things like our African News Innovation Challenge or similar support programmes.”

The most impressive projects will be in line to win R20 000, as well as tickets to the next GEN Summit in Barcelona, Spain, in June 2014. South African winners will then compete against their counterparts from around the world, at the annual Editors Lab Hackathon.

Google’s global lead for media outreach, Nicholas Whitaker, and his Code for South Africa counterpart, Adi Eyal, will present masterclasses at the Cape Town Editors’ Lab to get the teams off on a good start. The local judges include Memeburn editor Michelle Atagana, GEN deputy director Antoine Laurent, and AMI chief strategist, Justin Arenstein.

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