Media Blend Hackathon

Let’s kickstart your project!

Media Blend is a hackathon designed to boost innovative synergy on the cutting edge of journalism and technologies.

Programme Timeline

What is it all about?

Media Blend is a three-day offline event in Vienna gathering media professionals and innovators from around Europe. Anyone interested can apply within a team or alone (and we will find a team to match your ideas).
The chosen format, a hackathon, ensures 72 hours of creative problem-solving through collaboration between experts and media professionals followed by a pitching session of workable solutions to a problem.

We will provide:

  •  Ideation support before the event;
  • Cosy location in Vienna to work with your teammates and mentors on your dream project;
  • Mentorship support for product development; business, action, promo-plan creation; and presentation of the project;
  • Kick-off grants of €5,000 to support project ideas based on Hackathon competition results;
  • Networking opportunity with the most innovative media startups from all over Europe.

Media Blend Hackathon will take place in the same week as IPI World Congress and Media Innovation Festival 2023: New frontiers in the age of AI. Successful Hackathon participants will get the chance to present their pitches in parallel with the event.

Hackathon participants will be eligible to apply for IPI’s New Media Incubator, a new programme supporting the launch and growth of new media ventures.

Who is it for? Am I eligible?

The Media Blend Hackathon brings together media experts and managers, journalists and technologists from newsrooms and startups around Europe to explore tech-powered solutions to improve and enhance journalism operations, production, monetization and storytelling. If you consider yourself one of those people, you are welcome to apply alone or with an established team!

You can participate as a team working in the field of creative journalism and media startups. We expect the teams to generate new ideas and develop innovative solutions into working models or prototypes for the pan-European media market within these workstreams:

  • Analytics and monetization: this year the key focus for many publishers will be looking to hang on to new subscribers gained during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and COVID-19. That’s why we encourage the participants to tackle this challenge and use technologies for improving subscriber retention.
  • Media research and data analytics: there is a negative trend of lost trust in the media, accelerated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the pandemic. The main reason for that might be the spread of fake news and messages from the sources of information. Therefore we identify countering fake news and verifying the information as our second challenge. 
  • Content production and distribution: growing news avoidance among audiences seemingly keeps many newsrooms up at night. During this hackathon, we’d like to focus on people under 25, who due to their news consumption behavior are less interested in traditional news subjects and don’t have a strong affiliation with specific media brands. So our last objective is to find a way to make Gen Z users engaged and instantly aware of the information that matters most to them.

Please note that we offer you a main challenge within every hackathon category, but you are also welcome to suggest solving another one іn your application!

Geographical eligibility

Applicants must be based in one of the following countries: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Ukraine.

Teams / individual participants are welcome to apply if they have:

  • A vision of a challenge they want to approach/opportunities they want to create;
  • A rough plan on how to develop a solution to the challenge/problem addressed;
  • A project idea within the main categories:
    • Analytics and monetization;
    • Media research and data analytics;
    • Content production and distribution.
  • An ability to travel to Vienna in May (travel costs will be covered once your participation is confirmed).

What should my team look like?

  • The team consists of 2-4 people focused on the media sector;
  • Your team has to include at least one company decision-maker and one IT specialist as team members;
  • At least two people from two different countries have to be part of the team;
  • If there are people in your team representing different companies we’ll consider this an advantage.

Application process

  1. Get started and fill out the online questionnaire;
  2. Take part in an ideation workshop curated by media and tech experts. It is an opportunity for you to get support refining your project idea. Although participation in the ideation sessions is not mandatory – it will give ideation sessions participants an upper hand in the selection process;
    Apply for the ideation session by submitting your contacts here: https://bit.ly/402oCvq
  3. In the end, 10 teams focused on incorporating technologies in journalism or establishing cross-border and cross-company ties in the European media sector will be selected to participate in the hackathon.

Have you got any questions? Contact us here: mediablendhack@gmail.com 

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About the Transition Accelerator

What is the Transition Accelerator?

Run by IPI, the Transition Accelerator supports digital transition in established digital and legacy outlets by providing financial support (grant) and coaching. It will bring newsrooms along a media-first design and innovation journey, focusing on supporting newsrooms’ editorial, technology and business strategies. The project team will work closely with each newsroom to coach and provide the necessary resources to implement its transformational business or product strategy over a six-month period. The Transition Accelerator grant will provide funding and coaching for two types of projects:

  1. The development of a technological or audience-centric product or idea focusing on news gathering, crowd-sourcing revenues, and the creating or distribution of an outlet’s reporting with the goal of revenue diversification and growing audience reach. 
  2. Business plan for digital transformation in an existing newsroom or other organizational plans leveraging innovation for sustainability and increased competitiveness that ultimately grow the quality of Europe’s news ecosystem. 

Which activities does the Transition Accelerator include?

The Transition Accelerator consists of five main activities:

  • An introductory meeting: Here, all selected participants of the accelerator will exchange information in a video conference about their projects, set and share audience, newsroom and business goals, and meet the accelerator trainers, coaches and other experts.
  • Two day in-person bootcamp: A meeting that gathers all accelerator participants. Participants will undergo a needs assessment and hone their project proposals through strategy-sprints and feedback sessions from trainers. Towards the end of the bootcamp, each team will present their work plan and receive feedback from the rest of the cohort and media experts. The bootcamp will foster strong relationships between the accelerator participants.  
  • Structured learning phase: Bootcamps will be followed by a series of training sessions, comprised of pre-recorded online lectures by prominent media experts and subsequent “ask me anything” sessions with the trainers. The lectures will cover:
    • Audience research methods and practice
    • Product management
    • How to diversify your revenue streams: philanthropy, sponsorships, events, programmatic advertising, branded content, digital subscriptions, advertising to businesses, nonprofits and governments, and more
    • The latest in storytelling formats
    • Audience engagement – from surveys and comments to subscribers and CRM management 
    • Diversity and inclusion in product development 
    • Product hypothesis to design and prototype 
    • How to diversify revenue streams and what makes sense for you, from grants to events and native advertising
    • Business models and the northstar framework.
    • Reader revenue: how to successfully implement a membership, subscription and/or donation model.
  • 1:1 coaching: Accelerator participants will be offered 1:1 coaching sessions with experienced newsroom practitioners and trainers. Each participant will be paired with coaches that are able to provide the most value in terms of skills- and knowledge gaps identified in the needs-assessment. The participants are expected to attend coaching sessions biweekly.  
  • Guest speakers: Throughout the accelerator, participants will be exposed to the latest innovations in journalism delivery and business diversification from experienced leaders in the industry. 

Additionally, accelerator participants will be expected to produce and publish a promotional or descriptive post or story that describes what went right or wrong in their innovation journey. This can be in the form of an individual or series of stories, podcasts, videos, newsletters or other journalistic formats. The journalistic product can be related to the accelerator in one of two ways:

  • It highlights how the organization applied the learning on innovation in their newsroom;  
  • An editorial informing readers about the changes the organization went through in the accelerator, explaining how these changes will better serve its audiences.

Who can apply for the Transition Accelerator??

The Transition Accelerator is open to or small to mid-sized digital or legacy media outlets seeking to transform their journalism, products or business by investing in audience research, experimenting with new revenue models, deepening audience engagement, or investing in new content and distribution products based on user needs, among other strategies. Newsrooms are welcome to apply if they have:       

  • a clearly identified challenge or problem they want to solve; 
  • a plan on how to address the challenge or problem they face;
  • recently conducted audience research or other market testing activities;
  • willingness and a plan to reach out to new audiences with quality content. 

To apply, you must have a team of three staff members declared that will participate through the accelerator’s duration of six months.  

How long does the Transition Accelerator last?

The Transition Accelerator takes place for six months. Participants will have the opportunity to extend mentorship and will remain involved in the network. 

How many projects will be selected and how large is the grant? 

15 newsrooms will be selected to participate in the Transition Accelerator. 

The Transition Accelerator grant provides up to €20,000. In addition, each team member (three per project) will receive a travel grant to attend the bootcamp.