As journalism continues to change and evolve, innovation is key to attracting both readers and journalists.
In an effort to attract top technology into journalism, Brazil’s Rede Bahia conglomerate launched a new competition, the Correio of the Future Award, to encourage the development of new journalistic products while at the same time underscoring the important intersection of journalism, technology, and design thinking.
The idea was to give student teams just three months to create a completely innovative product that could be used in Brazil — or perhaps worldwide. The initiative also was created as a way to strengthen the relationship between the company’s Correio newspaper and area universities while also contributing to student education.
To launch the initiative, Rede Bahia hosted a free seminar for students featuring leaders from three Brazilian companies recognised for their innovation. Presentations were given from leaders at Jota, which was named best digital news startup in the world; Nexo, a leader in online journalism; and Operacao Serenata de Amor, an Artificial Intelligence project used to analyse public spending in Brazil. More than 150 students showed up to participate in that first seminar.
In the month that followed, Correio representatives visited seven classes at five Brazilian universities and gave presentations about innovation in journalism. Students also were invited to participate in the competition. In all, more than 400 students were reached and 18 projects were submitted, which is more than Correio had anticipated. Those applications involved 38 students from seven different universities in Brazil.
The final phase
After submitting applications, all the teams with ideas that Correio determined were viable and innovative were invited to attend a design thinking workshop. Nine projects were selected to move forward to this phase, and the workshop was designed to help them refine and hone their projects. After students had completed the workshop, a committee selected the final five candidates to pitch in the grand final.
That final event was open to the public and featured Florencia Coelho, a data journalist from La Nación in Argentina, who not only served as a member of the jury but also gave a presentation about the role of AI in journalism.
The winning team came from the State University of Bahia, and the winning idea was a chatbot that gathers stories from readers and categorizes them in a dashboard. The chatbot is designed so that journalists can reach out directly to the reader who made the suggestion. The team had three months to take the idea from a planning stage to a working innovation, and Correio launched the chatbot in February.
In addition to providing Correio with an innovative product and strengthening ties with area universities, the competition introduced the company to creative, brilliant young minds and helped the students see how they could put their ideas to work in the field of journalism. One student — whose team didn’t make it to the finals — so impressed the jury that he was hired by Correio at the end of the contest.
As technology and journalism become increasingly intertwined, initiatives like the Correio of the Future Award open the door to new talent entering the field while at the same time allowing for innovation to become a core competency for the company.