A Startup That Combines the Skills of Engineering and Journalism

The Brown Institute for Media Innovation was founded in the last year after Helen Gurley Brown had made donations to both Universities of Stanford and Columbia. The startup has recently begun to accept applications from the alumni and students of these two Universities for its next round of magic grants.

The main idea here is to get the journalistic skills of Columbia students combined with the engineering skills of Stanford students in order to drive the industry’s innovation.

A newsroom will now be constructed in the University of Columbia and an amount of $1, 50,000 will be offered for projects.

The new batch of grantees will be announced at the end of May and will define what can be produced when journalism and computer science are made to collaborate.

Last June was when the first three grants were awarded. Founded by two students of Stanford, Connecting the Dots is a project dedicated to complex news stories that are drawn out through mapping. Dispatch on the other hand is a startup that helps journalists at times of crisis by publishing through their mobile device and through hidden identities. Eigen News on the other hand has the largest team of ten members combined from both Universities. Its focus is on building a personalized television around national news clips.

“The playlist strikes a balance between presenting the most important stories currently and those stories that might be of particular interest to you,” wrote David Chen a team member from Stanford in an email. “For the second factor to be more evident, the user’s view history has to contain a sufficient number of samples.”, as has been reported by Niemanlab.com.

The Institute’s Columbia side has Mark Hansen as its appointed director. The administration of the funding’s second round will be overseen by him. Hansen is in fact a combination of both, a statistician and a journalist.

“Over the course of my ten years at UCLA, the Center shifted…to more participatory systems, where we were encouraging the public to get involved with data collection. As we started working with community groups, as we started reaching out to high schools, the character of the enterprise changed,” he says.

“I’m interested in seeing situations where the journalism is leading. Where there’s some story that needs to be told, or some aspect of a story that can’t be told with existing technology, but then drives the creation of a new technology,” he said. “As opposed to, ‘Look, we made tablets — okay, now you guys tell stories around tablets.’”

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