Scripps Innovation Challenge in Its 4th Year Has Broadened Its Media Focus

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The scope of the Scripps Innovation Challenge has grown over its four years of existence. Initially, the challenges to be met by student teams were journalism based. Now, the issues have a broader communication focus to meet the ever-changing media landscape.

On Monday, March 14 at 2 p.m. in the Walter Hall Rotunda, this year’s finalists will compete in a final pitch competition before a panel of professional judges. The student teams will be vying for cash prizes from a pool of $25,000.

Andrew Alexander, a Scripps Howard Visiting Professional in the Scripps College of Communication, co-chairs this year’s Challenge. He notes that the Challenge has grown over its four years of existence and seems to have become more important to students now than in the early years of the Challenge.

“We are trying to teach students the importance of innovation in media,” Alexander says. “Students respond to the challenge and many of them see this competition as a great resume builder.”

He stresses that this year students are focusing more on the business side of innovation and not just the idea creation aspect.

In fact, a course was created this academic year built around innovation, according to Alexander. It included numerous guest speakers helping to educate competitors on all aspects of innovation from creation to business plans and ultimately raising venture capital.

Alexander says that almost all media companies are grasping for innovations. Therefore, when a company is hiring young talent, they want students who have a track record of problem solving and students who have been willing to take a chance on a new idea.

Alexander has a long professional history in media and helps guide the student participants. After a long history with Cox Newspapers, Alexander served as bureau chief in Washington supervising a staff of 25 reporters and foreign bureaus in London, Jerusalem, Beijing, Moscow, Mexico City, Baghdad and the Caribbean.

Alexander also served as ombudsman for the Washington Post beginning in 2009.

He has won numerous journalism and freedom of information awards. He also serves on the board of the Committee to Protect Journalists. Currently, Alexander is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Scripps College of Communication.