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Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper to give developers access to its data for #HSCodeFest hackathon

News Corp’s Melbourne daily The Herald Sun has announced that it will be holding a hackathon later this month, challenging participants to develop innovative digital products from all its news and information data.

Set to begin on the evening of Friday November 27 and continue across the weekend the event, dubbed HSCodeFest, will be run by the Herald Sun and Melbourne University’s Melbourne Accelerator Program.

The Herald and Weekly Times will be giving teams access to its local, rural, national, and international news, sport, and lifestyle data through its APIs, along with access to its advertising network, to help them develop new products. For example, how can you take all the stats and data contained within the Herald’s SuperCoach product and make it better?

Teams will pitch their ideas to a panel including Peter Clark, general manager of Herald and Weekly Times; Alisa Bown, group director of digital product and development at News Corp Australia; Rohan Workman, director of the Melbourne Accelerator Program; and a mystery judge. Teams will also be encouraged to explore ongoing commercial opportunities with the Herald and Weekly Times after the event.

CodeFast is just the latest in a line of moves that show News Corp is serious about the role technology and innovation can play in the difficult news business. The company has been a partner of Sydney coworking community Fishburners for almost two years now, having announced a formal sponsorship of the space in 2013 that would allow for collaboration between the two organisations.

News Corp also launched its News Foundry 54 innovation program last year, a series of internal hackathons aimed at fostering a culture of intrapreneurship within the company. Over 600 staff have taken part in the event so far, and there are plans to roll the hackathons out across the company globally.

The Foundry events are led by Mark Drasutis, News Corp Australia’s head of innovation, who told Information Age earlier this year that the events look to challenge “the seven most expensive words in business – ‘we have always done it that way’.” Ideas developed at these events include a dashboard that gives journalists a real-time view of the demographics of their readers.

The company also sent journalist and senior manager of digital media and editorial Neal Mann on secondment to Australia from the Wall Street Journal last year, charging him with the task of helping bring News Corp’s Australian newsrooms into the digital age. The scope here was wide, with tasks ranging from getting editors and writers to forget about the idea of word limits for online pieces through to developing new, interactive ways to tell stories.

Those interested in taking part in HSCodeFest can find out more and register here.

Image: A News Foundry event. Source: Dushan Hanuska.





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