Journalism and Tech Intersect | School of Journalism & Mass Communication | Kent State University

Journalism and Tech Intersect

Journalism Student Takes First Place in Hack the Gender Gap Event

New storytelling platforms are emerging as audiences continue to consume news digitally and students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication are exploring new ways to use their journalism skills.

Valerie Royzman, ‘21, traveled with Assistant Professor Susan Zake to a hack-a-thon at West Virginia University. In the competition, she had to combine journalism and technology to create a solution to accessibility issues in elementary school classrooms.

“We saw a great need for our product because teachers across the board don’t have enough resources in the classroom,” Royzman said.

The purpose of the hack-a-thon was to encourage more females to pursue technology-based careers.

When starting the project, Royzman didn’t understand how her journalism skills would fit the project. She soon discovered that gathering stories and research would be the best way to create their project.

“I’m passionate about creating through words; I talk to people, research and build stories out of what I discover and I could apply those same skills here,” Royzman said.

Royzman’s team went on to interview elementary school language arts teachers and a guest speaker who has an autistic son. In addition, they spent a lot of time doing research online. Through in-person interviews, the team created a connection and passion for their product.

“We created a software, and the passion behind the idea made the difference in how we presented to the judges,” Royzman said.

The team created Context, a software using IEP data to understand student disabilities. This information would then be used to create modifications to texts, making them more accessible for students. Their project won first place. Rachel Duthie, ‘18,  also attended the competition and her team took second place.

Royzman’s hack-a-thon experience is just one of the ways JMC students combine technology and journalism. Through interactive websites, social media engagement and innovative storytelling, students connect journalism with digital communication. 

“Regardless of where the wind blows me in the journalism world, I think having an open mind and thinking innovatively is crucial in all that I do,” Royzman said.