Hackathon reimagines how we create, disseminate and consume news video

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One hundred people gathered in the New York City offices of Condé Nast this weekend for a hackathon to “rethink how we create, disseminate, and consume video news” in the digital age. It was a mix of journalists, developers, designers, and storytellers of all stripes and was organized by Hacks/Hackers’ Jeanne Brooks, M.I.T.’s Matthew Carroll, The New Yorker’s Lenny Bogdonoff, Al Jazeera America’s Lam Thuy Vo and Embedly’s Kawandeep Virdee, among others. It was one of the most gender-balanced and diverse hackathons I’ve attended.

The hackathon, dubbed #VideoHack, started with inspirational “lightning talks” from StoryCode’s Aina Abiodun about the danger of the mono-narrative, Tribeca Film Institute’s Ingrid Kopp about interactive storytelling, the Wall Street Journal’s Jarrard Cole about user engagement, Nick Fortugno about why we play games, and Lam Thuy Vo about how powerful short, short videos can be.

Rather than have participants pitch ideas for projects and chaotically assemble into teams, the organizers planned teams ahead of time that had a multidisciplinary mix of developers, journalists, designers, and other folks. The twelve teams had two days to decide and build a working prototype for a project involving video news.

Here are a few of the projects. They can all be found here.

Full Sight
Full Sight

Full Sight

Full Sight is a tool that allows in-line videos to be embedded within text to provide context. By clicking the highlighted text, a video starts playing behind the text.

Ojos Ven

Ojos Ven allows videomakers in unstable regions to upload and share video that has been made anonymous, in part, by blurring out faces or identifying information using Instagram-Like filters.



VideoPizza helps journalists turn long videos into trailer-length teasers. VideoPizza uses Natural Language Processing to find key characters in a video transcript and help users extract those portions.


“Temperature-ly-dot-io” allows one to perform sentiment analysis for videos by using the top trending keywords used with your video. It helps recirculate, rebrand, and attract advertisers to an outlet.



Shoutboost allows users to submit, discover, curate, and promote breaking news videos in their area. Users can discover and share videos on social media by geo-location.


Resume knows which video you are watching and helps make transition to other devices seamless, whether the car radio, a tablet, or a desktop. Resume uses websockets to constantly update where you are.


A torrent-based platform to upload and share sensitive videos which will continue to exist if the news website is taken down. RSA encryption is used to establish identity and help track authenticity of files.



Greyhound is the Tinder for video, allowing users to submit, rate and shuffle through the top videos of the day.


A tool to help users search within a video and across videos. Scrubber facilitates the way people find the important parts in long videos and allows high-speed scrubbing and user-submitted comments.


A video “control room” to bring in several sources of streaming video feeds to generate a single broadcast.

Catch Up

Catchup is a browser-based app that allows the user to watch videos of a single news event in chronological order, allowing them to see a story unfold as a timeline. Can filter coverage by news network.

Mystery science theater 4K

Uses Soundcloud’s time-based comments but for video. Engage and share with friends your video reactions to a video while it’s playing.

Storybench’s editor is Aleszu Bajak, a science journalist and former Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. He is an alum of Science Friday, the founder of LatinAmericanScience.org, and is passionate about breaking down the divide between journalists, developers and designers.

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