Hack to the Future: Competition opens publishers’ eyes to rapid innovation

This week media professionals from all over the world gather in Berlin for the World Publishing Expo, looking for inspiration and insights into the future of the publishing business. But the future has already happened.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | October 7, 2013

Over the weekend, Axel Springer hosted the Media Hack Day, a Hackathon that brought together creative programmers, designers, tech-savvy journalists and concept designers from all over the world.

Their mission: find new ways to reinvent and reengineer newspaper content archives so that their content can become relevant for the content-hungry digital age.

Newspapers have been struggling to do this for more than a decade, so what is new, you may ask? Well, the hackers only had 36 hours to come up with a working prototype of a solution.

Great ideas that newspaper executives spend years talking about, these hacker kids can execute over a weekend.

Together with Anette Novak, CEO, Interactive Institute Swedish ICT, Sweden, and Marc Mesgarzadeh, CTO, Computer Bild Digital GmbH, Germany, I was in the jury responsible for picking the best hack.

Some of the things we saw were just amazing.

The winner was Photostories, a mobile app that brings stories from around the world organized by photos and locations. If a picture captures your attention, you can go to related articles and, when available, read an entire article straight from the application, which had content feeds from The Guardian (main content), AFP and Axel Springer (additional related content)
- Storyful (geo location content).

The winning team of Robert Mielnik, Lukasz Milewski and Mike Skrabacz had a good idea, great hacking skills, and, most importantly, they were able to put together a working prototype that the jury wanted to get their hands on.

Their prize was a trip to Silicon Valley, where they will hopefully will get the chance to bring Photostories to the market.

Sometimes a picture says more than a thousand words.

Runners-up were:

  • Can I Quote you on that – an app that extracts quotes from news stories and map them to who said them, when they were said and in the context they were said. Potentially a very useful tool for journalists.
  • UZINE, an app that allows users to extract content from the archives of Agence France-Presse (AFP) using simple search words (i.e. Merkel, CDU, NSA) and make a flip-board style magazine presentation of the content. Very cool. A complete list of the projects is available at

By Tor Lillegraven, Business Development Director for CCI Europe.

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