Each time we launch the News Challenge, we get asked again and again: “How can I make my News Challenge application stand out? What kinds of things do reviewers look for in my proposal?” Considering we receive thousands of applications a year, those are both good things to think about.
So we thought we’d ask one of our News Challenge reviewers Kio Stark, a published author and current teacher at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. Stark brings more than 15 years of experience in the field of interactive marketing.
Below, Stark gives us an inside look as to how reviewers assess proposals and what they’re looking for in each application. She gives suggestions of things to keep in mind when writing and submitting a project, including specifics like what can turn reviewers on or off to ideas.
What advice would you give to applicants for this round of the News Challenge on mobile?
Kio Stark: Think about this as telling a story. You want the reviewers to be able to really imagine and understand what you’re doing. Clarity is your primary directive—and clarity isn’t easy. Try to use really concrete examples of how people will use what you’re making, how you know they need it and why you think it’s a great idea.
How can interested applicants make their submissions stand out?
K.S.: The first thing that always jumps out at me is when the applicants are passionate about what they’re doing, so try to make sure that comes through. Showing reviewers that you’re very clear about what you’re doing and how you’re going to do it is critical. Even if what you’re doing is an experiment! We want to see that you’re really serving a need you know exists.
What was it like to be an adviser for the most recent round of the News Challenge on data? What surprised you?
K.S.: I love seeing how creative people are thinking about things that can be done now that couldn’t be done before. I was surprised by how generous the review process was. Our goal was to find great projects and think about how we might be able to help them succeed.
Are there specific things that draw advisers to certain projects? Or shy away from them?