innovative ideas for gathering and delivering news

The Knight News Challenge is a competition that funds innovators who envision new ways of collecting, presenting, curating or sharing news. Here are some ideas from University of Michigan students who are considering the Knight News Challenge. I’ve gathered them here in one spot on this blog so they’ll be easier to find. What do you think? Feedback please…


About emiliaaskari

Journalist, teacher, news game designer. Promoting digital literacy and content creation in the public interest.

31 Responses to “innovative ideas for gathering and delivering news”

  1. Project Title:


    Group Members:

    Jenna Hetherington, Clancey D’Isa, Kirsten Friend

    Requested Amount:

    $100,000 for prototype development

    Expected Amount of time to Complete Project:

    A year for prototype development and test pilots.

    Describe your Project:

    Picture this: You’re using your smart phone, checking your twitter feed for the latest news on a recent outbreak of an infectious disease. You browse facebook for status updates from friends or colleagues, checking-in with people across the country. You then pull up instagram, #infectiousdisease is trending. The CDC has already posted photos of what to look for in potentially infected persons. In addition, the New York Times has posted several articles detailing the work of national public health organizations and insights from professions on how best to prevent infection. Your local news is trying to cover the outbreak in your area as best they can, but lack of resources and fear has prevented them from reaching out those who are affected.

    Your news is scatter, impersonal, and non-encompassing of local, regional and national perspectives. Officials constantly are offering their opinion about trending issues, but what are the citizens saying?

    We envision StreamlineNews as an instrument of both individual preference and broad perspective. Our app/website will function to individualize, historize, and organize minute-long videos of newsworthy events and experiences. By strictly categorizing posted videos in the followings ways we know that our app will enable users to find brief news videos that are relevant to their wants:

    -Time stamp video with date and location

    -Categorize video by subject matter: public health, environment, sports, fashion…..

    -Sub categorize by: Event, experience, opinion….

    -Categorize video by type: raw footage, report, personal account, review, narrative….

    -Create a homepage where the videos of your favorites ‘steamliners,’ whether it is CNN or your family, all display…

    This process of strict categorization will better enable our users to find videos specific to their needs. For instance, say there is an environmental disaster and you want to see raw footage of what’s happening in a specific region before, during, and after. With StreamlineNews, you can. Say you’d like to hear expert opinions about why this environmental disaster occurred, you can. Say you want to publish a video that describes your personal experience with this disaster, you can. StreamlineNews allows users to not only decide location wise where their news is coming from, but also allows them to decide who their news is being broadcast by, as well as allowing individuals to report their own personal news stories, which might traditionally be overlooked or underreported.

    StreamlineNews engages the reporter in every citizen. The exciting part of the StreamlineNews is that viewing news in a passive way is not an option. The videos place the viewer into the scene and also challenges them to report their own newsworthy events rather than writing a 160 word status or tweet that gets lost in the fold. Citizens reporting events gives viewers an opportunity to experience raw live information, rather than a next day article. If a video left some detail out or you feel unsatisfied after one video, there are other videos from other perspectives waiting for you to experience.

    What unmet need does your product meet?

    Amy Kaminski, 21 year-old University of Michigan Senior (Ann Arbor), wants a more organized source to get specific news. She doesn’t always have time for reading long articles or shuffling through papers to get the stories that mean the most to her. Lastly, she wants her social media applications to be available on her laptop and smartphone so she can use it wherever there is internet.

    Susan Friend, 53 year-old elementary school principal (DeWitt, MI), is responsible for 400 children in her building daily. She can check websites like CNN and New York Times, but she needs to be able to see what is happening locally above anything else. She states that using news websites can be overwhelming and hard to maneuver, so she would like to see a user friendly page where the search bar is obvious and the site is easy to follow.

    Catherine Zhang, 21 year old University of Michigan senior, thinks current forms of delivering the news often lack differing positions. She believes they can often be opinionated without providing a more local perspective. She wishes to see different viewpoints when browsing the news. She wants to hear more from different citizens as opposed to just experts reporting on topics. Contact:

    How big is the potential market for your idea?

    The audience for StreamlineNews is vast. Our users will range from Environmentalists looking to gather first-hand accounts of a toxic spill on the Mississippi, to Public Health officials reporting to their streamline-followers the importance of washing hand this flu season, to your average grandmother who wants to see a quick video of her grandchildren. The statistics undoubtedly prove the market for smartphone and computer based applications and our interviews show a void in organized news reporting, together these factors affirm the need for StreamlineNews.

    Statistics taken from the following:

    How is your idea innovative — new or different from something already existing?

    The difference between our app and youtube is simple: we’re specific, restricted, and tailored. YouTube is an excellent forum that allows anyone to post video. However, the lack of uniformity and categorization/labeling makes youtube a nightmare for finding newsworthy reporting from non-traditional sources. Sure videos reposted by large news conglomerates are easily searchable via their trade names, but where do we find the personal accounts.

    The other source of competition are social media websites like Facebook and Twitter because the format of posting and sharing is very similar. The major difference is being able to select who you want to hear from and what types of stories you want to see on your homepage. There are no “Monica is eating pizza at Dominos” posts, unless you want to see a review of a restaurant someone made on our App. Like twitter and Facebook It allows for personal connections between news and people. However, instead of being limited to just the people you are following or favorited, you can access every video that exists in the application. This is what makes StreamlineNews the best place for free unrestricted news.

    How will your idea be financially sustainable?

    StreamlineNews is a free application for all users. Bogging down each individual news video with an ad is not on the agenda for this project. Our team wants to create a self-sustaining app/website that focuses on information sharing rather than profits. However, there are costs to be covered. Just like YouTube creates revenue with advertising before videos (that have a large amount of views), we too will place short, less than ten second ads, at the start of select videos. We also will incorporate elements of Twitter like the homepage features where videos that are trending or promoted are visible.

    Promoted videos will be paid for by companies, generating another source of revenue for StreamlineNews. Companies can also pay a fee to come up as a promoted company in searches. Say you want to search for a restaurant in your area, you could search something like “sushi” and then if companies want to come up first in the search, they have to pay a fee.

    This idea is from Yelp, who use this form of “local advertising” to generate most of their revenue.

    Why are you and your team the right people to develop this project?

    Our desire to develop this project comes from our own frustrating experiences with the sheer quantity of news. We want a way to bring it all together and organize it so we won’t miss anything as it happens. Our team sees the importance in getting news from people just like us, not just reporters, because there are no teleprompters or desks to sit behind when news breaks. Real scenes with real people. We are those real people. Our team is made up of three different women who each find different aspects of the news interesting so we are the perfect sample to develop this project. We are passionate about this and would hate to see someone else develop an idea we created.

    • This is Kendall’s analysis:

      I think this is an awesome idea! I often find myself going to several different sites when looking for news in general (or on a certain topic) on the internet. This site hopping either happens by clicking through “related links” or by my wondering what other sources are saying about an issue and then actively searching myself. In either case, I can’t get all of the information in one place, and that’s why I like your idea so much. It’s convenient and it seems very user friendly as well as that it has something for everyone who might use your app/website.

      I like the categories that you chose to highlight, especially your idea to categorize videos by type. That’s something I hadn’t seen before. I can see this being very useful to individuals, especially students, when trying to get a lot of different perspectives on a topic. I also think the homepage/news feed idea is great as well. It makes it more interactive and personalizes your site. I was curious, does this mean that users create an account and then begin “favoriting” items and as they build up favorites their homepage will become more developed? When users visit your site for the first time, before they have developed a personalized homepage what will they see on your site? And what will keep them coming back after this first visit?

      I’m not sure if you are planning to just stick to video, but it might also be interesting to include a space for photo stories/essays. This is still a visual way of displaying news, but it might expand your user base and be an interesting addition to your site. One thing that I was wondering about when reading your description was about quality control. Established news sources will definitely have polished and appropriate pieces to share with you, but what about individuals posting their own footage and videos? Do you plan to sift through each video to check on quality and content? I was wondering, if a video was inappropriate, or more importantly, inaccurate in some way would you edit it, post it, or not include it? I like that this site gives everyone the chance to be a reporter. I wonder how many individuals will post their own videos. Do you expect this to be a majority of the clips on your site or a smaller portion? How do you plan to spread the word that this feature is available. Peter’s group had a feature, similar to youtube, where at the end of a video there would be featured/related video links. I think this is something you should definitely include on your site as well.

      Great job!!

    • I think this is a really good idea to make news more personalized and more to the point, especially now when people seem to always be in a hurry. I like the fact that it features video and that there is a corresponding website for the app. My only comment would be that it might cause people to be less informed about certain important issues in the news if they are getting things in such small doses that are categorized so strictly. Other than that I think it’s a great idea and would actually be a really fun news app.

    • You were right, Clancey. This is a great idea! A few points for you to consider:
      You didn’t actually use statistics in supporting size of audience. Do you have those? If tagging and categorization is the main difference from youtube, who does this? How do you ensure uniformity? Really like the concept of mashing up Facebook, twitter yelp and youtube. I particularly like the way you’ve thought about revenue. Can you include information on how youtube and yelp, for example, are doing financially? Also, I’m not sure that all the best information is now on video – especially when it comes to expert analyses. But things are evolving in that direction.
      Again, really nice work on this!

  2. Posted originally by Peter….who are your teammates?
    Project Title: Daily View
    Requested Amount: $250,000
    Expected Amount of time to Complete Project: 1 year
    Describe your Project:

    The amount of news sources in society are growing every day and they thrive at national, state, and regional levels. Each channel has it’s own views and audiences. People reach out to multiple channels to get the news that they need, whether it be local news or international news. In a world where technology is being developed rapidly to make the information world more convenient, these news channels should be organized so that audiences could access them easily. In order to organize these sources and provide easy access to viewers, we are proposing an online video archive system for user-generated content. Channels like CNN, Fox, or even the local channel 4 news will have rights to upload content based off of their credentials. Audiences will have access to view these videos through another log-in system that will allow them to favorite certain channels of news, like certain clips, and even post comments. Because we want to provide credible news, we are restricting who has access to upload videos.

    The search capabilities of this website will be the most significant feature. Users will be able to search for their favorite news channels by region, topic, and even bias, such as conservative or liberal. Once a viewer completes watching a video, there will be a feature like Youtube’s “related videos” that will suggest other news stories that will seem to be of interest to the guest and even an opposite view of the story they just heard. This is simply to create more variety in what the public is seeing.

    It will be a database for current and past news to be streamed as it happens. All types of news companies, despite location, size, and topic, will be able to communicate with the public to provide information in a more efficient way. It provides for more relevant news. The website will be similar to Vimeo in terms of user abilities and processes. Even though all news channels will have access to the website, a points and preferences system will cater video suggestions and content to the user’s liking. Featured videos will be updated every few hours. Because a variety of news sources will have access to this site, the content will be moderated to avoid spam.

    What unmet need does your product meet? 200 words
    There should be a forum for any citizen to contribute to the news. With technology likes phones, computers, and cameras everywhere, making a place for anyone to contribute news would be valuable. Youtube ( has a news forum, but it is just a small part of their site, and people won’t go there to look for news because of all the clutter. Our website will be consolidating all credible news sources, despite their views or regions, and allowing users to have access in one spot. This is especially beneficial for those who are doing research for school projects or looking for clips to support statements. This can reduce a lot of search time.

    Interview four potential users of your product about this unmet need. Do not tell them about your idea. Just explore their need. What did you learn? Include names and contact info for interviewees and a few words describing each — age, gender, occupation, town where of residence. Go for variety. 200 words

    Steve Klimkowski, chief investment officer of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, says “I like to get my news from 3 different news outlets and I also am specifically interested in news regarding the economy. I find that a source that has a way for me to filter my news to suit my interests is really important.”

    “I feel like digital is the way news is going,” says Anna Schulte, a photojournalist for the Michigan Daily. “It’s the most viable form of news outlets these days.” In a busy lifestyle, most people barely get to watch the 10:00 p.m. news every night; hence they rely on digital copies of stories from throughout the day. Having to go to one website where all one’s favorite news channels have posted their stories would make things more efficient.

    Additionally, many people have been more concerned about receiving unbiased news from their favorite news channels. “I like to make sure I can double check liberally biased news outlets with conservative and vice versa,” says Kim Karcz, a student at the University of Michigan. With the use of the proposed website, many perspectives of the same news story can be found in one location.

    Usually people go to multiple websites and TV channels to obtain their news, whether it be because of relevance or because of preference.. Alana Helverson, a Michigan lawyer, says that she is not so great with computers but she knows that in this day and age she has to use the Internet for her news. Therefore she prefers something easy and something that will filter her favorite conservative news outlets for her.

    How big is the potential market for your idea? Mention sources for any statistics you use. 100 words
    The potential market for our idea is worldwide. There are mediums of news all over the world that upload their videos to personal websites. Currently, our goal is to try this out in the United States and then slowly open it up to those in neighboring countries. When we see a demand and audience approval, we will expand to more parts of the world.

    How is your idea innovative — new or different from something already existing? Name your closest competitiors – 200 words

    The most similar website that we can think of is Youtube. Youtube, however, is ground for all sorts of video, professional to amateur, that invites all sorts of videos to be posted and shared. We like the model it follows but we would like to create something where simply news videos can be posted and searched for. This we allow users to easily access what they are looking for and ensure that what they are watching is just as credible as paper news or television news. There is a huge concern whether news these days cannot be trusted because anyone can create news. We would like to make the distinction between professional news and amateur videos and posts uploaded by any citizen

    How will your idea be financially sustainable? 150 words
    Advertising will be used to gain some revenue to keep the website functioning. New channels who are already making a profit from their personal news outlets will be enticed by being paid a certain amount of money to share their news videos on our website.

    Why are you and your team the right people to develop this project? 100 words
    Collectively, we have experience in the media industries and video production and have first-hand seen what the demands are of the current population. A large portion of the population that we are surrounded by uses technology, such as phones and iPads, to access their news on the go. Videos are the most attractive mediums of news. We believe with our personal experience and skills we can create this new site.

    • I really like this idea. I think it’s a great way to combine news from all over into one place. When I look at the news, I often browse different websites, making it more difficult to compare articles about the same story. With your idea. I can easily read stories from a plethora of news sites. I also really like the “related videos” feature that appears after you complete watching a video. When I watch videos or listen to music on YouTube, I often find myself clicking the related videos once the video I was watching completes. This is a great way to expand beyond what you originally intended to watch.

      I’m curious, will this only be a place to connect published news sources? or will it be similar to YouTube in the sense that users can post videos as well? You mentioned a Citizen Forum. Would this be the place that users can post their content? If so, I think that’s a great idea. It would keep the professional news sources separate, which would avoid pointless posts (I’ve seen plenty of “pointless” videos on YouTube, I’m sure you have as well).

      The digital market is definitely becoming extremely popular method as a way of broadcasting the news. I think this idea could impact a large market of people. It would be important to not only make it user-friendly, but also accessible via mobile phone. With the right strategies, I think this idea could make an impact in the distribution of news.

    • I really appreciate this idea! I agree that there is an overwhelming amount of information accessible on the internet, which is where people seem to get most of their news from these days. On top of that, it is extremely difficult for people to differentiate the sources, if they are not privileged enough to have educators or some type of accredited guider. I think that it is important that all people read reliable news sources in order to create more educated positions and opinions and move this world in a positive direction. Having a website with only trustworthy news would be ideal! The diversity between videos and articles and audible coverage is also a nice inclusion: not everyone learns the same and some people prefer to watch or listen as opposed to read endless amounts of words on a screen. I also think it is great that there will be a forum where people can discuss. I also do think that this idea would be very useful for students or researchers who need to reliable sources to provide insight on a topic, as you mentioned.

      I do have a few questions to pose for you, however. My first question being: what are the credentials that a news source will have to receive in order to make it onto the website? While I recognize that there are many sources available that are unreliable, I also recognize that there are plenty of news sources that are trustworthy. Therefore, I am concerned, as a potential user, that I will still be lost within the webpage. On the other hand, if you minimize it too much, that I will be missing out on other vital information and viewpoints. In addition, I think that many of the reliable news sources, such as the New York Times, has limits on how many articles one can read without paying for a subscription. How will your webpage take care of this? If you have frequent readers and followers, then they will run into a problem quite often.

      Overall, I think that this could really be implemented. I hope that people will start making moves towards publishing only trustworthy news and making a clear separation between blogs, opinion pieces, amateur writing, and professional journalism. Your idea would definitely help start this movement and I think it could attract a large audience.

      • Teammates are Ruhee Momin and Katie Klimkowski. I apologize for not posting that originally!

    • I think this idea has a lot of potential and is similar to our knight idea as well. It seems people are desperate for a way to organize news sources and being more involved in the stories they are hearing. Using already formatted websites as a template, like youtube, will make this very user friendly.

      A large part of social media is sharing and telling everyone what they are doing or watching at all times. Will this have the ability to share links among friends or let people know about a news topic that interests you most? Can users subscribe to certain channels to make future surfing for news easier and more accessible? A great idea and I congratulate you on something that is feasible in todays world while also being forward thinkers!

    • Nice job on this. I think video is increasingly important and I like that you focus on that medium. A few questions:
      What incentive do the professional news organizations have to share their videos with your site? Don’t they want to drive traffic to their own sites? Who is tagging the videos on your site and judging whether they are credible or not? A little unclear on how non-pro journalists are participating and having their work verified. Nevertheless, I like the direction you’re going with this. Good work.

  3. Team RevolutioNews

    Abby Maroko, Mariah Van Ermen, and Neil Krisralam

    PocketNews: Cuter Than Your Paperboy

    Requested Amount: $50,000

    Expected amount of time to complete project: 6 months

    Describe your Project:

    Our brand PocketNews aims to spread news and messages to consumers through portable tissue packages and therefore putting the news literally onto consumers hands. PocketNews is a form of tissue-pack-marketing that models after an already existing system in Japan. A range of organizations in Japan use pocket tissues to promote their messages and it is a $4 billion USD industry. The pocket tissues are handed out mainly in the entrances of subway stations and outside shopping malls. This form of communication has proved so revolutionary that in Japan, the market for purchasable tissues is almost non-existent, as consumers expect to get tissues for free.

    However, our brand PocketNews will vary from the Japanese model, in that our tissue will focus on news (public health, environmental, celebrity, politics). On the blank faces of the tissue packet, PocketNews will features the most relevant and current news. The tissue packages will be updated on a daily basis so each day will feature that day’s breaking news. Understandably, the faces of tissue packages are small and cannot feature entire news stories but using technological innovation, PocketNews will feature QR codes (or Quick Response Codes) that when connected to a smartphone, will expand the news headlines and short summaries that are featured. The QR code will link to the PocketNews website (of that particular story) where consumers will be able to learn about the news, use it as a resource and as a gateway to other similar stories. The QR barcode allows the consumer to engage even further but ensures that the headline or summary won’t lose their attention. Through this interactive process, consumers can be engaged with our product and with the news, to their discretion. The QR barcode also provides a sense of fun and social interactivity to news and guarantees that the consumer will engage with the news that is being presented.

    The website that the code will link to (ideally will be an agglomeration of different news sources and websites (CNN, MSNBC, USAToday etc.) along with local online publications, depending on the location of the consumer. Because we are not generating our own news, our website will act similar to a news search engine, whereby the most relevant news of the day that applies to their QR code will be brought to the consumer’s attention alongside related news stories.

    The PocketNews package will be a bifold package and will feature news stories and advertisements on all surfaces of the packages (4 altogether on a single package). The unopened PocketNews package will have dimensions of 4 x 3 inches and once opened, the package will have dimensions of 4 x 6 inches. All of our PocketNews packages will be biodegradable and will be out of post-recycled and recyclable materials. Companies such as the Paradigm group ( specialize in the wholesale manufacturing of biodegradable facial tissues, suggesting that the resources needed to create PocketNews are not limited.

    Our initial plan is to start distributing these pocket tissues throughout the University of Michigan campus and the Ann Arbor communities. These two locales will serve as test market for future expansion to other cities across the nations. For the first few months, while establishing our presence in Ann Arbor, we will distribute the tissue packages in person, through University of Michigan student volunteers. Once we have gained a following, and when demand becomes too high, we will be installing dispensers in various locations on campus (libraries, lecture hall buildings, bathrooms, Diag, etc.) and in public areas (outside coffee shops, banks, parks, etc.).

    Why are you and your team the right people to develop this project?

    My team is comprised of the perfect people for this project, because we are fresh thinkers, active journalists and writers, and live on a college campus. We will have certain access to students and public, to whom PocketNews will be distributed. The University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor is an excellent place to test the product, because it parallels many other major cities in the country, in its being densely populated. Although we aim to eventually target subway systems, as they are a major hub for news transmission, we can determine the baseline intrigue and use of PocketNews in this college town.

    What unmet needs does your project meet?

    In an idyllic society, everyone stays informed and is proactive towards relevant issues. In reality, this is not the case. The cost of news and the effort, thought minimal, to obtain it, are major barriers keeping citizens disengaged from their societies.

    15% of Americans are below the poverty line (U.S. Census Bureau of 2011). These people cannot afford a newspaper in digital or print form. The remaining majority of the U.S. population expects efficiency and quick results. Plus, by human nature, people engage in actions that are easy and rewarding. Together, this makes the American masses unlikely to pursue news, but willing to read it if it is brought to them, especially as a gift.

    PocketNews taps into these trends by distributing news directly into the hands of people of all socioeconomic classes. At the very least, this allows those who cannot access Internet to receive snippets of the news. For the majority of the U.S. who can afford, and own, Smartphones, our one-scan technology is an avenue for quick access to the full spread of news on the Internet. Just scan the QR code, and the recipient can further explore headlines that provoked curiosity. Furthermore, PocketNews guarantees exposure to the news, via its external headlines, and it encourages an engaged citizenry by simplifying and incentivizing interaction with the news.

    Also, typically, most products handed to people on the street are flimsy, useless pieces of paper filled with advertisements and coupons. Especially on college campuses, students are solicited with religious pamphlets. These papers are a nuisance to carry around and soon end up in the trash, or hopefully, the recycling bin.

    PocketNews is unlikely to be thrown away. Its inside content can be used to clean up a runny nose, and its outside content—the news—is informative. This dual functionality incentivizes against tossing away the tissue pack and its news. The tissue pack will stay in the recipient’s pocket for several days, exponentially increasing exposure to the news with each grab of a tissue.

    How big is the potential market for your idea? Mention sources for any statistics you use.

    There is certainly a broad market for PocketNews. People like to stay informed, but, as creatures in a world of rapid technological advancement, getting the news is viewed as a task. PocketNews’ quick-scan technology marries these desires and makes news easy to retrieve.

    With 91.4 million Smartphone users in the United States (“Smartphone Usage Statistics 2012”), many people will have the convenience of scanning the QR code on the package and getting a direct link to full news articles. There is also a high probability that the product will be utilized. All Smartphones are web-accessible, and Internet browsing is the second-most common way that Smartphone users employ their devices (Marketing Pilgrim, 2012). Plus, 9/10 Smartphone owners use their phone on a daily basis.

    How is your idea innovative — new or different from something already existing?

    At the moment, there is no tissue-pack-marketing that is prominent in America, and the closest existing idea to PocketNews is the Japanese pocket tissues mentioned earlier. Our brand PocketNews will vary from the Japanese model in that we will focus our messages on news in addition to advertisements. We believe PocketNews is innovative because it incorporates information and entertainment to daily routine. As PocketNews has fused the two and made the reception of information accessible, unchallenging and somewhat subliminal, we are innovating the ways in which consumer’s are able to access news and information. Innovative products also have to innately disrupt and revolutionize the current consumer market and we believe PocketNews will change the way consumer’s approach tissues and other hygienic products that we believe should be free to avoid the spreading of disease. Also, access to information can be a chore, which requires time and access to the Internet. Our product will bring news to people in a succinct and entertaining way that can require no effort at all, or just a simple smart phone if a consumer wants to read more about the news. As tissues are used by everyone, PocketNews is a powerful strategy for disseminating current affairs.

    Interview four potential users of your product about this unmet need.

    Four potential users:

    1. Max Veenema, Male, 21, Student, Grand Rapids MI (resides in Ann Arbor)

    Diane O’Hara, Female, 57, Accountant, Chelsea MI
    Erin McInnis, Female, 19, Waitress, Rochester MI (resides in Ann Arbor)
    Ron Ketelhut, Male, 26, Teacher, Houston TX
    Each of our four potential consumers was a proponent of free, biodegradable tissues. All 4 of them, regardless of age, gender, or occupation, described their frustrations of having a cold, or just a runny nose, and being without tissues. Veenema claims that in the early mornings before class, he often goes into Espresso Royale on South University just to get napkins to blow his nose. The PocketNews team learned that the napkins at Espresso Royale are coarse and are not designed to be used for hygienic purposes, which means that consumers often have to resort to uncomfortable means to simply blow their nose. Ketelhut, a middle school teacher in Houston, Texas, claims that his students often sneak into the bathroom to use toilet tissues to blow their nose, which is not only unhygienic but incredibly uncomfortable and embarrassing. All four potential consumers also complained about the price of tissue packets at convenient stores and supermarkets. A 3 box pack of Kleenex Antiviral facial tissues costs $6.99 at Staples, meaning that a single box costs approximately $2.33- more than a cup of coffee at Starbucks and more than 20 printing pages at the University of Michigan library. McInnis, a part-time waitress and student at University of Michigan claimed that she rarely looks at news because she hasn’t had access to a computer at home for over a month. She openly admitted to feeling “left out of society” by not having access to information. After aggregating all of our feedback, we discovered that product would greatly solve the need for free and accessible hygiene products and accessible news technology.

    How will your idea be financially sustainable?

    The cost of tissues, packaging, dispensers and technical staff will be covered by revenue of advertisers and news source commissions. Advertising space on each package allows an opportunity to generate revenue. Possible advertisers could be related to health or environmental companies, but not limited to. Advertising space is not only available on the tissues packages themselves but on our website. Advertisers are encouraged to supply coupons or prizes in select packages. This would provide PocketNews to supply a form of a “Golden Tissue” as a marketing strategy. Because we are supplying advertisements and news, new sources would pay for space, affiliation, and exposure on our packaging and our distribution strategies.

    • This is a really out of the box idea, and I found it very intriguing. It’d be interesting to see such an everyday item, like a tissue, be used for something like this.

      My biggest question is a regarding the logistics of the news and printing process, and I apologize if I missed something in the application. Will this be weekly printings with the top headlines of the last week, or monthly, or daily?

      Is daily printing reasonable? With packaging, printing, and distribution, can you get it the product to people each day? If not daily, is it still reasonable on a weekly basis? With the Japanese version of this, it’s with marketing, which doesn’t get old as quickly as news, and can still be used and relevant one day after the next day. Also,do you think it’s realistic that people will need a tissue before they log onto the internet for the day? You mentioned 15% of people that don’t get news online or in print, but that number will be shrinking, I’d imagine, so will the demand for this product also shrink?

      Great ideas, hope my questions help!

    • Mariah, Neil, and Abby – I think this idea is so cool! I know if I’m walking around campus or waiting for a bus, I sometimes get bored. I don’t have a smartphone, so I like to read little advertisements posted everywhere. I actually learn a lot of information from those. The pocketbooks would not only have practical benefits (the tissues!) but also provide useful information and/or entertainment.

      I like the fact that they would be distributed free of cost since some people cannot afford to access news. I think it is important that people of every socioeconomic class are informed about what is happening at the national and local levels. Another thing I absolutely loved was the fact that the tissues would be biodegradable and sustainably produced. That is so trendy and environmentally conscious! Another thing I like was how you incorporated technology into this product. The QR codes are genius! I personally would not be able to use them, and I know many other people would not be able to either. Though this could be a potential downside, I think if people were interested enough, they could look up the information on the Internet or easily learn more about it in another manner. I agree with what you said in the application, some news is better than no news!

      Even though new stories would be printed on the packets everyday, news changes by the hour with constant updates and such. The information might not always be up to date. It might also be costly to produce new pocketbooks on a daily basis.

      A suggestion I have is to maybe print the advertisements on the actual tissue. I know of some companies that do so. It would allow for more advertising and more revenue for your company. It would also increase space on the pocketbooks for even more news or information.

      Overall, great job! I really enjoyed reading your application.

      • As we were discussing earlier, I think this is a great idea. While the demographics may not be here in America (which I have advise for you guys later), you still are hitting a large audience. I really would have never thought of using tissues as an advertising source. But be cautious, because the ability to use QR reader codes can only be accessed through a smartphone and any small mistake in the QR code could result in malfunctioning codes.

        If you guys wanted to hit an audience here in America, I would suggest using the papers on fast-food trays. Normally they have nutrient values and such, but who really reads that anyways. This is an idea we actually brainstormed, but never thought to include a QR code to make it a website too. When people are eating, they may just want something to do, so why not read? You could portray some sort of news on those papers. Like I said, just a suggestion for a difference audience. But all in all, I really like it!

    • I agree with the classmates who’ve praised you for the really different angle you take here. Excellent! My main questions are: Why does this work in Japan, and why hasn’t anyone already tried this in the U.S.? What’s different here that might make this not work here? Again, good job thinking of something that works in another market and trying to apply it here. Very creative.

  4. Project Title: MFood Exposed

    Requested Amount: $50,000

    Expected Amount of Time to Complete Assignment: If started by January, the site should be up and running before the Fall 2013 semester.

    Description of Project: Attending a University that places such a high emphasis on sustainable eating made us wonder how the local food that ends up in our cafeterias and on our dinner plates got there. With this in mind, we decided to take a closer look at the farms and farmers who provide the products that the University of Michigan serves in its cafeterias and other University-affiliated dining establishments.

    After talking with students about the food sustainability information they would like available to them, we realized there was a need to hold the University accountable for its sustainability practices. Instead of counting on the University’s word, we are proposing a website that maps the locations of food purchased by the institution. This tracking resource will follow food from its origin to its arrival at the University for student consumption.

    The website will include information on the growing methods used at the farms. This may include: Pesticide use, irrigation practices, animal diets & housing, transportation methods to the University. Additionally, we think it is appropriate create profiles for each farm or company that provides food to the University.

    Our front page will display a map of Michigan, with stars indicating where the food is purchased. Students will be able to click on a location on the map to view what that particular location provides to the University, as well as the profile on that establishment. Within each profile, we will include a “report card,” grading each farm or company on how environmentally friendly their different practices are (for example, there will be different grades for transportation/fuel usage and pesticide use). We will also include a suggestions section where we will talk to professors and other professionals about how each farm or company could improve their practices. Students and other site visitors will be able to add their comments and thoughts to this section.

    If students are in a hurry, they will be able to use a side bar that displays different food categories of interest (such as dairy, meat, poultry, etc.) instead of reading about a specific location. Once students select the category of food, even more narrow food options will pop up, such as eggs, milk, cheese, bread, etc. The information on where the University receives the food and how environmentally friendly the foods are will then appear. This way, students will be able to search efficiently for the foods they want.

    This website adds to University of Michigan’s sustainability reputation. It will allow students to make more informed choices on the food they eat and may even be used to push the University toward more sustainable purchasing practices. Individuals eating at dining halls and other university food establishments deserve to know more about where their food comes from and how it traveled from the farm to their tray. At the very least, this information should be readily available to them.

    Unmet Need: The University of Michigan does a thorough job of promoting sustainability and providing nutritional information for the food it serves. However, as a public institution, we believe there is a level of transparency that the University needs to have in all areas. The student body needs to be able to hold the University accountable for the sustainability practices that it preaches. As of now, there is no website or University source that congregates all of this information. Instead, students need to ask multiple sources or search on multiple websites to find any type of information on where University food sustainability. We believe that this is an unnecessary hassle. This website would streamline this process and make all the food sustainability information available in one convenient setting. Instead of forcing students to work through multiple channels of information that may discourage them from looking into food sustainability practices, we want to make it an easy process to encourage and spark student interest.


    Rebecca Brewster, LSA/PITE freshman at the University –

    John Ferreira, LSA/Screen Arts & Culture junior at the University –

    Adam Glanzman, LSA/International Studies junior at the University –

    Vanessa Yates, LSA/Pre-Med senior at the University –

    Yates, who follows a gluten-free diet and tries to find organic foods of high quality, said she is very conscious of what she eats and is always looking for dietary information. We thought it was interesting that more students do seem to be becoming more aware of their foods and where they come from, and that Yates was a perfect example of this. Ferreira did not seem particularly concerned about food sustainability practices, and said it would be convenient to have the information available, but that he probably wouldn’t be a prime consumer. Glanzman said he would have been much more interested and likely to use the information when he lived in the dorms and ate at the cafeterias on a daily basis, but if the information was available for places such as U-Gos and Victor’s, he would probably look at the information before he made a purchase. Brewster seemed the most interested, as she still lives in the dorms and is an environmental science major. Unsurprisingly, the students interested in environmental practices were most likely to use the information while someone like Ferreira wasn’t as inclined. However, all seemed receptive to the idea, which we found encouraging.

    Potential Market Size: We intend to use the University of Michigan as a pilot for this website to establish it first on a small, more manageable scale. It is possible that this project could be expanded to other universities across the nation. All types of institutions, large and small, public and private, could be included. Mainly students, faculty, and staff will use this website, but it may also be used by parents and prospective students. Food sold at University sporting event concession stands may also be included on the website. Any individual who attends a sporting event could use the website to receive information on purchased food.

    How Our Idea is Innovative: Cafeteria eating is similar to eating practices growing up — children eat what their parents provide without much input, much like students eat cafeteria food without much thought. Once students leave the dorms, however, they need to be able to make smart food decisions. When individuals are able to buy their own groceries, they can look at the label and determine what they want to purchase. Our site will give students living in the dorms similar options to those who buy their own food. By informing students of their food options earlier, this site will make the transition from dorm life to life living alone an easier process.

    Emory University’s dining website contains a sustainability section that features a list of farms that provide food to the university. Yale University has developed a food-purchasing guide that which highlights best and worst practices. Although valuable, neither of these sources is focused on students and they do not include information on practices at specific farms or transportation methods. We consider this an important issue that many students care about, and the University has the chance to become the first in the nation to institute a program like this, solidifying the its role as an environmental leader.

    Financial Sustainability: On top of the grant money, which would be used to start the website, we plan to apply for funding from programs within the University of Michigan to support our research. Because we are students and our initiative promotes sustainability, we qualify for Student Sustainability Initiative (SSI) small-scale grants. The Student Sustainability Initiative provides grants to “encourage and support innovative student projects that help make U-M a global leader in campus sustainability”. Furthermore, sustainability effort qualifies this project for funding under the Plant Blue initiative (PBSIF). The expenditures of running and maintaining a website will be far less than the grants we may receive – which will mean we will not have to rely on advertising revenue, making the website more user friendly. After its initial launch, this website may continue to be student run, in which case, in the future, students could continue to apply for these grants.

    Why Us: Because our initiative is focused on university campuses, as students we have a vested interest in where our food comes from and the quality of ingredients which are used in our meals. As beneficiaries and providers of this program we are committed to extensive research so we can provide the best information to students and the university about the quality of food that is being consumed on campus. With sufficient funding we will have the time and resources to commit to providing this excellent service.

    • This feedback is from Neil…
      Wow, what a wonderful idea, I can absolutely see this happening. You’re absolutely right too about the unmet needs; people need to know where their food is coming from, that way they can make a choice about what food is best for them to eat (judging by where it’s grown, what companies grows and distributes it, etc.).
      However, I do have a few concerns about the idea:

      1. Is knowing TOO much and being too spoilt in information a bad thing?

      If we are able to access information pertaining to the who/what/when/where/why/how’s of cafeteria food, we may be seriously pushing our privileges. Say, for example, we discover that some of the vegetables at the salad bar are genetically modified (which, just judging by their size and color, I’m positive some are) and then the news spreads and everyone stops eating those vegetables; who is really benefiting here? The company that is found to be modifying the growth of those vegetables might go out of business considering the amount of income it probably receives from UofM and we, the students, lose those vegetables until a replacement is found; not to mention how spoilt it will make all of us look. In a steep recession, where stats say that 1 in 5 Americans don’t get enough food everyday- is this TOO MUCH of a privilege? Is it necessary? Is it going to hurt our economy?

      2. Do people really want to know or care where there food comes from? What’s the demand?

      As innovative as I think the idea is, the problem it may face is its probable lack of demand. Since it is a website and doesn’t seem to be interactive- I don’t see that much traffic passing through it. My suggestion would be to maybe install QR codes, underneath the food labels in the dining halls, that could open directly to the website. That way instead of having to manually type in the URL into their smart phone and searching through this and that, they will find stats directly related to that food. Since the menu for dining halls is decided on a formulaic basis, I’m sure that logistically this could be done.

      Other than that, I think this is a really innovative idea. If you can answer those questions and prove me wrong than this idea is sure to be a success.

    • I think this idea is not only perfect for this university, it’s also very bold. Never before will such a sense of responsibility be placed on a place that is forced to mass produce hot meals every day. I think the key here, as you said, is transparency. By having literal maps and experts weighing in on where the food is from, everyone (students, teachers, workers) will know how and where this food came from and whether is nutritionally valuable.
      I’m curious to know how this information will be readily available. I think that it might be hard for students to access, as they’re eating so it should probably be easier to access and understand on the go. What if on the UHousing website, under the menu daily, there was a link or name of a farm under every dish where it was produced? What if under the entire menu, there were lines drawn on a map from Ann Arbor to wherever the food is coming from to emphasize local foods? Are there goals or university cafeterias about how much of their food should be local, or is some just better than none?
      I also think that you shouldn’t just limit this technology to universities. Although targeting campuses would be nice, why are you excluding high schools? I could even see this plan entering hospital cafeterias – another site where consumers would be hyper-concerned about their health!
      Overall, this plan is great and would be a wonderful addition to campus.

    • MFood Exposed is a great idea. It is definitely a web site that I would use, and I can see other health-conscious individuals browsing the site as well. I think that it would be much better executed if offered for all of the food on U of M’s campus, not just in the dining halls. As the people that eat in the dining halls are just a sliver of the population here, other people won’t get to tap this excellent resource.

      However, I have some questions about the maintainability of this project.

      1. Will the web site be available to anybody who wants to see it, or would it be run through WolverineAccess, in which case a password would be required?

      2. I am curious if you need to obtain permission from the dining halls, farmers, food producers and manufacturers, to place this nutritional information on the Internet. If so, do you think they would give you consent?

      2. While it is true that you are saving money by getting grant money (by the way, that is solid researching and utilization of your resources on campus), and that the web site maintenance will not be very costly, I wouldn’t assume that you are going to have extra money. There may be unforeseen costs. For example, if you do need to obtain consent from these companies, will there be a charge that goes along with it to gain access to that nutritional information?

      Overall, the idea is intriguing and useful, and I totally am into it. I’d like to see it implemented here.

    • I am very interested in this idea! I think it is great. I know that I would be very supportive and have been concerned about this myself. I have worked with dining halls and their sustainability efforts especially in their food sourcing but ran into several University political issues. I do see great demand for this service, forum, and distribution of information.

      Like Neil, I do have a couple concerns. I see the immediate relevance limited to University community members but even more so limited within said community. This information is only relevant to freshman and other students with a meal plan.

      The encouraged transparency is a necessary goal and very useful in more areas than just with the food in the dining hall. But along with the potential extended reach of the program to other Universities, have you thought about using this for other local restaurant networks or encouraging transparency within grocery stores and other food sources? How could this be applied? It seems to me that larger communities would be very interested in this information and this way of holding people accountable in their own practices.

    • I think this is an awesome idea and I would have definitely used it freshman year when I was in the dorms. Obviously when people leave the dorms they have the freedom to go to places like Whole Foods and make their own choices; however, a lot of students live and die by the meal plan. In saying that, this idea is still relevant to all undergrads and grad students — because every day students rely on the the Union and other Michigan run cafes for food. I also think this could be applied on other campuses – for example, Notre Dame, who require students to live in the dorms all four year.

      A couple of questions I had were:

      — who will run the website? your group? a part time employee?
      — do you think relying on grants will be enough to fund this project year round
      — how will you get the information off farmers, for example, about how their stock was raised? will this be another cost you don’t anticipate

      Finally, I think this could be something that parents could be very interested in — if they had the ability to see what was going into their kids meals everyday they might have something to say about buying that meal plan. Forcing the university to provide better service. I’m sure this wouldn’t hurt the university — I’m sure most parents would rather pay more to make sure their kids are well fed. Overall, I could see this idea creating a healthier campus overall – great work guys!!

    • My favorite part of this pitch is when you state that you’re not going to take for granted anything that someone tells you. Way to think like a journalist! You know that one of the classic bits of advice shared with young journalists is this: When your mother says she loves you, check it out. Not suggesting that you literally do that. Just sayin’ I like your attitude — and your idea. Questions: Isn’t it going to be pretty complicated to gather the kind of info you want? How can you get it quickly? Wouldn’t it require some cooperation with food services rather than totally independent checking? Again, I really like this. Keep on developing this idea. It’s got potential.

  5. “Team Health Radar” Proposal

    Adam Eickmeyer, Becky Mueller, and Phoebe Barghouty

    Product Name:

    Health Radar App- Who is sick in your city?

    Requested amount of funding: $50,000

    How long to complete project:

    6-8 months for development with constant updating afterwards dependent on growth and participating counties.

    Project Description:

    Who – While this app will be useful to anyone who wants real time information about diseases in their area, it would be particularly useful for individuals who are living in high risk areas such as schools districts, college campuses, and highly populated cities. This app will also be useful for people traveling or moving to new areas so they can evaluate which diseases are most prevalent there and can take precautionary measures.
    What – the app and corresponding website will take information (type of sickness, age of affected person, location) and compile it into an interactive map. The map will show trends in disease and information will be filterable by age, type of sickness and place of sickness. The app will save information from year to year and make it accessible to users interested in revealing trends using any criteria. Since we will not initially be able to provide earlier years’ information, we will link the users to the Center for Disease Control’s findings of disease from previous years. The app will also send out a notification when a disease has a high prevalence in your geographic area or if there is an epidemic in a certain age group (such as meningitis in college students). GPS linking can be used on smartphones to find what diseases are prevalent nearest the user.
    Likely diseases that we would track include:
    ○ Common Cold

    ○ Bronchitis

    ○ Influenza

    ■ H1N1

    ■ Avian Flu

    ○ Meningitis

    ○ Mononucleosis

    ○ Pink Eye

    ○ Rotavirus

    ○ Strep Throat

    ○ Whooping Cough

    When – Once a day, a companion computer program provided by the developers at no cost to the health care centers will send how many diagnoses of reported cases of common, communicable illnesses they received that day. The app will compile the information and relay it to users in real time so that they can access updated information about any city, disease, or age group whenever they need to know.
    Why – Our app will make planning disease prevention much easier. From little kids off on their way to school, to knowing whether or not to get a flu shot, to deciding whether or not to travel to a different city, the app will help consumers potentially lower their risk of getting sick.
    How – The app will have both a search feature and map feature. Diseases will link to WebMD so consumers can get more information on prevention, symptoms, and treatments of the disease. The home screen on both the website and the app will feature a map of the United States depicting hotspots for certain diseases on that day. Users can click on their state and county to find a more detailed map with localized information for reported diseases in their area. Users can also filter information by type of disease, age group and disease, accompanied with appropriate links for more information on the outbreak.
    Note: Some might argue that this app is a violation of patient’s privacy, but since we will not access or publish private information about the patient, only age group and location of hospital, we are not violating any HIPAA laws regarding patient rights. Information provided would be strictly statistical and limited to reported cases and age groups.

    Potential Users

    Top potential users for this product would be parents, doctors, students, and travelers. doctors, students and travelers are at the high risk for catching common illnesses because they live or work in areas where diseases spread quickly. Interviews with individuals like these revealed the need and desire for up-to-date information regarding contagious illnesses on a local level. Interview subjects were asked how useful they thought it would be to have convenient access to statistics regarding common disease outbreaks in their areas.

    Parent of a Child: Tracy Mangold, a 40 year old mother of a 5 year old girl “I do think that would be helpful/useful as a mom. Especially if a mom is working outside the home and not able to keep up on what’s going on. It would be also useful cumulatively in terms of looking back and assessing – over the course of the school year – the peak times for sicknesses and knowing perhaps what to prepare for – if possible – for the next school year.”

    Traveler: Amani Elbarghouti, 39 year old Financial Analyst who travels twice a month for work. “I spend a great deal of time in airports and traveling, so knowing if a cold was going around during one of my trips would make me more inclined to be extra careful. I simply cannot afford to get sick and the first step is precaution.”

    Potential Market

    The potential market for this product is extensive. Our product is perfect for many different types of consumer. First, travelers can see what diseases/infections are prevalent in an area that they plan on visiting, and plan accordingly. Two billion trips were taken in 2011 according to, so this group would benefit highly from our product. Worried parents can use this app to see what conditions are going around in their child’s age range, and thus prepare them to prevent the disease. The data found in our app could also be used by local governments and health organizations to track epidemics in a certain area or age range of those affected. Students living at colleges where sicknesses travel quickly are also a key market not only because of their high risk status, but because of their frequent use of mobile technology.


    We do not see any competitors in the free market. A non-profit competitor could be the Centers for Disease Control because they release data on disease prevalence and incidence. We outcompete them because we provide new data daily, whereas the CDC only periodically releases large volumes of data. This idea is new because it provides real-time information that can keep the public informed on what diseases are most likely to affect them. The app will also allow users to track past diseases and see if there are trends when specific diseases seem to be most prevalent. This way, the public can prepare themselves for these times.

    Though there are no direct competitors for this app, the closest competitor would be the WebMD app. This free mobile application allows users to check their symptoms, look up prescriptions, find information on healthy living, and features tips on disease prevention. However, the only correlation between this app and our proposed app is that they are both mobile health apps aimed at sharing information and aiding in disease prevention. The WebMD app does not feature localized statistics, trend analyses or real time updates, and is not a consumer-generated content based application.

    Long Term Financial Viability

    We plan on making this a free app to consumers, but selling pop-up and banner advertising space within the app. We will potentially sell advertisement space to participating health care centers and insurance companies, as they could both prosper from the publicity gained from the app. This is a common strategy for many apps today to gain revenue. We will also market a premium edition of the app, which is pop-up ad-free and comes with a one-time cost of $0.99. This marketing strategy is commonly used for iPhone and Android apps, and we believe that people will upgrade at the small one-time cost.

    Developer Qualifications

    We are the right people to do this job because we identified a void in the market that everyone is concerned about. As college students, we are invested in staying healthy to be able to go to school and one day, we will have families and will worry about keeping them safe. We also have the added benefit of being from a generation in which information is always readily available to us via phone or computer. By incorporating the need for health information and the need to have it readily available, we are the perfect people to develop this project.

    • This is a very useful idea! Isn’t someone already doing this with flu? Don’t state health departments already collect this kind of info, thought they may not display them on mobile apps? Why don;t they display the info in the kind of accessible way you suggest? Also, do you anticipate problems getting cooperation from hospitals? Does this app run afoul of HIPPA? Are you just locating people with the disease in a hospital, so their neighbors at home aren’t freaking out? You can’t hover a mouse over my house in a google map and see that someone in my house has a cold, right? I think this has some great potential. Excellent work.

    • An app. for registering communicable disease is a really great idea. I am impressed by the range of relevant conditions this app might capture. Clearly CDC could use this information, but so could travelers and airports, National Guard, and many other sources. One natural question I have is how the information is gathered in the first place? Unless the producer is hiring a rather large curtain of information seeking staff, it seems like there should be some mention of CDC, or state and local health departments, or health systems that will supply the incoming information. Second, the information could be depicted in either map or tabular form. If it is in map form, there are various ways of displaying it that would have appeal, and utility, for users. Earthquake portrayals have epicenters, and weather maps have isobars or pressure bars. Perhaps the map scheme could adopt these illustrative features? Cumulative data can be portrayed in various date ranges – for a day (point data), a week, a month. Could the map could be adjusted to portray different date “thicknesses” according to user need or preference? I really like this app idea and think it will gain lots of users from different quarters. Hopefully you will find my suggestions useful. – Stephen Modell, Health Management and Policy

      • Stephen-

        Thank you so much for your feedback! Yes, the hardest part of developing this into a working problem will be establishing a relationship with health centers that will feed us the data. However, Google Flu has done it with that disease, so we are thinking that this will just be on a larger scale.

        I like your idea of showing data in multiple formats, as not everyone likes looking at blips on a map. Thanks for that suggestion!

        We will definitely consider your suggestions when we move along with the development of this application. In the meantime, if you know of any others that you think would be willing to comment and make suggestions, please show this to them. We are looking to get as much feedback as possible to make this application a reality.

        Thanks again!


  6. Names: Danielle, Stephanie, Haris

    Project Title: MHEN – Michigan Health and Environment News (followed by the symbol of Caduceus wrapped around tree)

    Requested Amount: $250,000

    Expected Amount of time to Complete Project: 12 months

    Description of the project:

    This project is a way of taking popular concerns and interests and delivering reliable information on the subjects to the people in a comprehensive way. Our method to do this is through a one hour, weekly webcast, which discusses environment and public health concerns, specific for Michigan news and its residents. The webcast aims at answering the questions of the people; rather than assuming what the audience knows or doesn’t know, we will be able to know exactly what the audience, and general population, needs to be more informed about. A correlating website will be created where viewers can post questions and vote on topics they are most interested in. Since the goal is to inform the general population, information will be relayed in laymen terms, so the people can actually understand what is being discussed.

    The webcast will be titled MHEN and will be aired every Sunday at 7 pm. The host will introduce the topics of the week and mention events in past weeks news that is related to the topic. Following this introduction, featured local experts will break down these events and subjects and talk about how it affects the people. They will also provide analysis of the information and provide validity to the information and/or refute invalid points of information. The local expert and the host will then address anywhere from 5-10 questions, which were voted as the most popular from the website. Once this question and answer session ends, there will be interviews conducted (via call-in or in person) of people who have witnessed an event or someone/people who have been directly affected or involved in something relating to the topic of the week. At the end of the show, there will be time reserved for the host to list related events within the state, suggestions for further readings or viewings on subjects of the week, and various lectures held on the topics.

    The second component of this project is the webpage. The webpage will contain archives where one can purchase old podcasts, a forum and poll where viewers can post questions they have on topics relating to the environment or public health, as well as a forum and poll for topics they would like to see covered. Links to credentials for the experts featured on the show will also be provided, as well as links to news features covered during the webcast. The webpage will also provide the written text of the show, in both English and Spanish, so people have the ability to read what was being discussed if they prefer to do so. Maps, links to further readings and events, as well as links to government reports and other statistics will also be provided on the webpage.

    What Unmet need does your product meet?

    Based on preliminary interviews we conducted, many people believed environmental and public health information was inaccessible to them or that the information was presented in a way that was difficult for the average person to understand. Furthermore, some thought media outlets covered a lot of information that wasn’t relevant to their interests. Most media outlets cover national environmental news and many people from different localities cannot relate. Our webcasts would relate these broader environmental topics specifically to Michiganders. We would explore how these issues are taking shape right in our own hometowns. We would research and report on topics that people don’t know about but are curious to learn more. By including the testimony of experts and local eyewitnesses, the information we provide would be reliable and accurate. With many media outlets downsizing, fewer and fewer reporters are available to specialize in and focus specifically on environmental and public health reporting. Our project would allow for greater transparency on how these national environmental issues affect the average person.

    Interviews of four potential users:

    “I feel like the data is already out there, but people either don’t care enough to find or read it, or it’s presented in a way that isn’t really conducive to average people understanding it.” – Kyle Kavanagh, male, age: 28, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, financial engineer

    “I don’t really know what information is available right now. I imagine there is a ton out there, just the great majority of the population neglect the issues. Most of it is written and I don’t want to read a lot of stuff.” – Matt Chodosh, male, age: 21, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Student.

    “There needs to be more positive stories out there. The news these days is so sensationalized, that its losing viewers.” – Riley Pfeifer, female, age: 20, Port Huron, Michigan.

    “Entertainment. News needs to appeal to more audiences in a new way.” Mike Antoon, male, age: 20, Columbus, Ohio.

    How big is the potential market for your idea?

    We estimate that our minimum primary viewer-base be as low as 500,000 people, which is the number of people who listen to Michigan Radio each week ( We also estimate that our maximum primary viewer-base be as high as almost eight million people, which is the number of people who have access to the internet in the state of Michigan ( Our secondary viewer-base cannot be predicted. It encompasses an audience who subjectively is concerned or interested in the environmental and public health issues in Michigan.

    How is our idea innovative?

    Our closest competitor would be the Environmental Report from Michigan Radio. However, our project has many factors that differentiate it from this and other similar news sources. First, the webcasts cater to the specific needs of our audience. The polls on the website allow reporters to gauge which trending environmental issues are most important to viewers. Therefore, our reports would be applicable and relevant to the audience. The questions forum allows us to see exactly what viewers want to know so we can design the webcasts to ensure we address these questions. Our experts would break down environmental reports, statistics, and data that many people find difficult to understand. It lets viewers know what they mean and what the implications are. Explaining this particular information goes beyond stating the facts. The focus of the webcast is pertinent, local information, which differs from many other news sources that focus on mainly national environmental issues. Second, we would offer a script of the webcast in Spanish to ensure we reach a broader audience. Archived webcasts would have an additional option to watch it with Spanish subtitles.

    How will your idea be financially sustainable?

    There will be three major sources of income to ensure financial sustainability. The first source comes from product commercials that are advertised during the webcast. During this time, the host will advertise a product by recalling a blurb provided by the company of interest. A handful of these will be conducted throughout the webcast. The second source is website advertisements, which will serve in the traditional manner. The website will have various advertisements. The third source is through sale. Interested persons can purchase webcasts and podcasts from the website directly for a nominal fee. These three components will serve as sufficient revenue to keep the webcast sustainable.

    Why are you and your team the right people to develop this project?

    The next new big thing doesn’t have to come from a corporation or wiser generations, but rather individuals from a newer generation. Our collective input as young individuals has driven us to recognize the issues facing the news media today. Our knowledge about current technologies and our understanding for how to use them helped us develop this idea. We concluded after much discussion that was the most adequate way the news media can be portrayed in order to keep the people informed, interested, and involved, while keeping up with newer technologies.

    • I really think this is a good idea, and offers people a different way to get news that is most pertinent to them!

      I have a few questions:

      Who would you get to host the show? Would it be one host every week or would the host change weekly? Do you think you would have to pay them? Would you have to hire a production team to make the webcast more professional, or are you going for a more laid back style?

      I also appreciate that your webcast would try to answer questions in a way that most people can understand. I think that one of the biggest problems with reporting environment and public health news is that sometimes authors use a little too much topic-specific jargon, which can be above the reader’s level of familiarity. It’s great that you realized that this is a problem, and will try to adress it.

      Also, how are you going to market your product? Do you think listeners of the Environment Report will come to your webcast instead?

      Overall, I think this is a great idea. I’m really impressed!

    • Nice idea. Fairly traditional approach, and it’s fine to start there. Are there any social media elements or interaction with the audience that you could incorporate? Why do you think this doesn’t exist already? Again, good thinking here.

  7. Hi Guys,

    I think this is a cool idea, and different than the other posts! Definitely not something I would have thought of, but I agree with you that people would be interested.

    But a few things:

    1. I’m wondering if Sunday in the evening is the prime time? Why not a Monday morning or other week day so people can listen on the commute? Is there a reason you chose this specific time?

    2. How are you going to advertise for this/get people interested? What happens if people don’t respond to your polls? Will the host pick the topics? It might be difficult to talk about 5-10 different issues each week. (Unless the 5-10 questions you mentioned all deal with the same issue)

    3. How will you secure sources, especially with Michigan Radio dominating the area? Are there enough environmentally minded people around that your listeners can trust?

    4. Like Adam asked, I’m curious about the host. Will it be a rotating expert on that days issue? That might be an interesting concept to explore.

    5. I also like the website but I’m worried people won’t go there and also to the podcast.

    6. Is a spanish script really necessary? We have the largest Muslim population in the nation, why not look into that instead?

  8. I think this is a pretty cool idea and I have the same view as the first person you interviewed: I think this information is out there, it’s just in a variety of different places — so bringing it together could be a very good idea.

    Just a few questions:

    1. How many people do you expect to employ? and does your team intend to fill these spots? Obviously it’s a limited budget, but for this to really stand out I think more effort need to be put into it than just recycling news from different sites.

    2. How are you going to attract people to your site and cast in the first place? Getting your name out there could be an issue on a limited budget and paying for your own advertising might not be feasible with this in mind.

    3. Will this project go beyond Michigan? or is it just intended to be in the state? This really is a great idea, and I’m sure other states would love to try it out (pending it’s success).

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