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Tom Meagher is the co-founder of Hack Jersey and the data editor at Digital First Media's Project Thunderdome in New York City. His 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.Continue reading