RJI Student Innovation Competition 2020

Deepfake videos, fabricated photos and audio are among the biggest challenges the news industry faces today as it tries to keep the public informed with accurate information. In the U.S., lawmakers have considered legislation against false images, but how long will it take for policies to be implemented and will they be able to solve the problem? 

This year’s RJI Student Innovation Competition challenge is to create a program, tool or prototype for photo, video or audio verification. 

Students who plan to enter the competition have the next three months to build their tool, prototype or program before submitting their finished project for consideration by Dec. 1, 2019.

A free seminar series organized by the Innovation & Futures Lab will be held over the next three months at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. The series is meant for students who want to learn more about product development, marketing research, scrum methodology, design and other topics that could assist them in their projects. Please sign up to be on the invitation list for these seminars here



First place: $10,000

Second place: $2,500

Third place: $1,000



Deadline: Dec. 1, 2019 by 11:59 p.m. CT 

Submit your entry

Entries must be presented in a Google slide format on the prototype, tool or program that you created for our competition. Your project cannot be something that already exists or has been entered in past competitions, you must have built it for this competition specifically. If your team is chosen as a finalist, you will have six weeks to polish your presentation and project based on our feedback before presenting on Feb. 8, 2020. 



  • The competition is open to all U.S. college students. All finalists will need to submit documentation to verify their college enrollment status. 
  • A team can be an individual or up to 4 people. 
  • At least one person on each team must be a journalism or communication student. 
  • Presentations must be in English. 
  • Students must have licenses for and/or own all content used in their project. Everything must be legal and ready to be implemented without issue. 



Innovation lab staff at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute will narrow the entries to a group of finalists who will be invited to present at RJI at the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Missouri, on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020 in front of a panel of industry judges and the public. 

Projects will be judged on four main criteria:

  1. Timely impact: At the time of presentation, the project should be ready or close to ready to be implemented at news organizations across the country. 
  2. Verification: Projects must assist in verification of videos, images or audio.
  3. Innovation: Projects must be transformative for news organizations and-or the public. A new idea, method or tool that will change the way we and-or the public verifies content. 
  4. Accessibility: Project should be feasible to implement in all newsrooms regardless of their CMS, browsers, current tools, website or budget. It should be accessible to all newsrooms from small weeklies to large metros. 

Finalists must be able to present in person and cover their own travel costs. If a team is unable to be present, that entry will be automatically withdrawn from consideration. 

Questions? Email Kat Duncan: Duncank@rjionline.org or submit your question here.

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