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OpenGov Voices: Chasing the 8-hour app

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Tom MeagherFoundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog.

Tom Meagher is the co-founder of Hack Jersey and the data editor at Digital First Media's Project Thunderdome in New York City. Follow Hack Jersey at @hackjersey or www.hackjersey.com. Reach Tom at @ultracasual.

A few weeks ago, Hack Jersey brought a group of journalists and developers together to wrestle with campaign finance data. We thought it would be a good opportunity for many to get their hands dirty and to start thinking about new ways of reporting and building with the data.

In one room of our event at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, a group of journalists went on a data expedition, learning how to explore reports from the state's Election Law Enforcement Commission. In another, we gathered developers to try to build a campaign finance app for New Jersey using the Sunlight Foundation's APIs in a single work session.

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OpenGov Voices: Hack Jersey hackathon — public data solving problems

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog.

Tom Meagher is the co-founder of Hack Jersey and the data editor at Digital First Media's Project Thunderdome in New York City. Tom MeagherHis team builds interactive news applications, supports computer-assisted reporting projects in local newsrooms and offers training. He served as the data editor for The Star-Ledger in Newark, and he lives with his family in suburban New Jersey. Reach him at @ultracasual or @hackjersey.

Wrapped by the hanging air quotes of New York City and Philadelphia, New Jersey's history of invention and investigative reporting tends to get overlooked. Even within the state, the two disciplines haven't acknowledged each other much. In recent years, there've been hackathons at local colleges or tech groups, but the Garden State's journalists never really mingled with programmers or dipped their toes into building news applications. Until now.

This winter, Hack Jersey held the state's first news hackathon and attracted dozens of journalists and developers to learn from and compete with one another. Sponsored by the NJ News Commons, Knight-Mozilla's OpenNews and many other organizations, the hackathon revolved around a simple (and maybe obvious) idea. By bringing coders and journalists together to use public data and solve problems, we could sow the seeds for an amazing new community here.

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