#newsHACK II - Dublin and Glasgow, 2014


Today we are wrapping up #newsHACK II, with 26 participating teams in 2 locations; Glasgow & Dublin

The Storyliner Masterclass yesterday

Getting ready for demos in Dublin


1. Explain the News.

Prototype a News experience that provides users with the “back story”: explainers, key information, archive content, “why this is in the News”, etc. Look for connections, content and design devices that address a varying knowledge of key concepts in each story.

Tips : The “Stream” is currently a popular format with News providers – how might we look beyond this at the future of how we keep users up to date whilst explaining the news?

Audience insight : It’s important to remember that most people don’t follow the news all-day every-day. This means that they sometimes feel like they’ve come to a story partway through, and they’re struggling to understand what’s going on. This is particularly common with long-running stories like the unrest in Syria or the debate over fracking. With these kinds of subjects, people often express a desire for a brief summary of the story so far, to allow them to get up to date and then following ongoing developments. If they can’t understand the background to a story, it can seem confusing and irrelevant, and they might try to filter it out entirely.

2. Connect the News.

Prototype a News experience that provides serendipitous, surprising and relevant journeys across the News, and one that encourages discovery and sharing.

Tips : Look for ways to pique audience interests, to tap into social media habits, and support consumption across devices.

Audience Insight : We’re all accustomed to having a huge quantity of information at our fingertips, and this has given many of us a voracious appetite for new information. One of the reasons people enjoy using social media sites is that they allow them to discover content they wouldn’t otherwise have seen, be that funny, shocking or thought-provoking. Some users also turn to aggregator apps which offer content from a range of different sources, curated in a range of different ways, to try and give them the feeling “There’s always something interesting to read/ watch here.”

3. Theme the News.

Prototype a novel approach to “story type” groupings. Linked data topics are useful and well understood, so how might we use “Story types” to group stories and provide further personalisation capability?

Tips : For example, there are possibilities in sentiment-driven, or “narrative type” groupings – e.g. “about unlikely heroines”, “with famous victims”, “with humourous elements” – that we could use in combination with Topics.

Audience Insight : When we ask people which types of news they’re interested in, they often find it difficult to answer that question, because they don’t classify news in the same way news organisations classify news. For example, news organisations might group together all the articles around a specific place, like Portugal, but users might be interested in some stories about Portugal (like the disappearance of Madeleine McCann) and not in others (like stories about the Portuguese economy). Some audiences also express a desire for news that makes them feel a certain way, e.g. uplifting stories, or funny stories.

4. Tools for Journalists.

Prototype a tool that allow Journalists to spend more time creating and curating, and less time digging and filing.

Tips : Think “How might automated processes do more of the heavy lifting?”; “How might automated processes provide the most relevant raw materials for the Journalist to craft the News stories?”

Audience Insight : There will be a good number of Journalists at the event – a few roaming experts, plus 1 or more in each team – grab them for some guerilla testing!


  • Sky News
  • Financial Times
  • YLE
  • BBC Archive
  • Wall Street Journal
  • UCL
  • Storyful
  • Swansea University
  • University of West Scotland
  • NewsWhip
  • The Drum
  • Trinity College Dublin
  • Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI)
  • Dublin City University
  • The Times
  • STV
  • Westminster University
  • Open Knowledge Ireland


Our esteemed Judges:

Robin Pembrooke, General Manager: BBC News, Weather & Travel (Glasgow) Jim Chisholm, Chilsholm Publishing Consultancy (Glasgow) Evangeline de Bourgoing, Programme Manager #EditorsLab (Glasgow) Peter Rippon, Editor of Online Archive, BBC (Dublin) Johnny Ryan, Executive Director of UCD, innovation Academy (Dublin)

Technical Advisors

Michael Satterthwaite, BBC News Labs (Dublin) Iain Collins, BBC News Labs (Glasgow)

Prize Categories

First Prize Dublin: Your team gets a place in the GEN finals in Barcelona, and flights and accommodation paid by GEN. NB - this is for a 3-person team*.

First Prize Glasgow: Your team gets a place in the GEN finals in Barcelona, and flights and accommodation paid by GEN. NB - this is for a 3-person team*.

Judging Process

TIME: Judging will take place between 6pm and 7pm on Friday 2nd May, and will be judged in a joint session across the 2 locations. REFERENCE: Please ensure your hack and your team are registered on #newsHACK HackerLeague here - this will be used by Judges for reference information. CRITERIA: The winning hacks will be selected based on the following criteria.

EditorsLab BBC #newsHACK Judging Criteria:

Editorial Quality: How innovative is the project? How useful to the users will it be? Design: How user-friendly is the interface? How creative is the design? Development: What level of technical expertise does this project demonstrate? How functional is the prototype? Implementation: Scalability: What is the potential scale of the idea? Viability: Is it logistically and technically feasible?


* In some GEN events, like this one, teams of more than 3 are permitted. However, the programme final has a strict “3 per team” rule.

** The participating teams are free to choose their own direction, and this event is all about innovation. As a result of these factors there may not be competitors in all categories. In addition, the Judges reserve the right to create additional categories.


  • Best in Show Dublin: “Know it all” by The Times
  • Best in Show Glasgow: “Blind Spot” by The Financial Times
  • Winner of “Connecting the News” Category: “Hash2News” by Hujo Insight (DERI)
  • Winner of “Explaining the News” Category: “Storyline Plus” by BBC Location Services
  • Winner of “Theming the News” Category: “Mews App” by Sky News
  • Winner of “Tools for Journalists”: Irish Independent
  • Winner of “NewsCrack” award: “Bifid” by University of West Scotland
  • Winner of “Best Visually Inspired Hack” award : BBC News Archive App.