CU-student opportunities at the Test Kitchen

This page lists current opportunities for CU-Boulder students to get involved in projects of the Digital News Test Kitchen. While DNTK is a part of the Journalism & Mass Communication program, participation is not limited to Journalism students. Indeed, many of the program’s projects require skills from other disciplines, including Computer Science, Business, Marketing, Psychology, Law, and more. Some opportunities earn academic credit, some offer hourly pay, and some involve volunteering.

If you are interested in an opportunity listed here, please contact DNTK program director Steve Outing (e-mail: | phone: 303-834-7810).

Slices of Boulder 2.0 | Analyzing a changing local media-sphere

Date posted: July 4, 2011
Benefit type: Hourly student pay and/or independent-study credit
Supervisor: Steve Outing, program director, Digital News Test Kitchen, CU JMC
[wpreveal title="Click to see description..."] Project description: In 2010, the Digital News Test Kitchen in a joint project with Eqentia Inc. (and utilizing that Toronto company’s curation and content-analysis platform) created The site is based on a custom taxonomy of Boulder, Colorado, and its surrounding area, and continuously brings in a stream of links to local news and information sources of wide breadth, on relevant local topics from A to Z. Users of the site can keep up with latest news and information being published online about Boulder, from a multi-source, broad-brush overview (latest Top Stories) down to fine-grain, multi-sourced news/info streams (e.g., Boulder rock climbing, or a specific Boulder neighborhood). In addition, the site pulls in Boulder mentions from non-local media sources, and also monitors and filters the local socia media scene. The site further includes sophisticated user-personalization features.

That was Slices of Boulder 1.0. Now, we’re looking to move the project on to version 2.0, and leverage its yet-untapped possibilities — both in terms of improved value to Boulder-area online users, and as an academic research project examining the changes in local media-spheres as a result of the digital-media revolution, using Boulder as our test case.

A graduate-student researcher taking on “version 2.0″ of the Slices of Boulder project will:

  • Update the news and information sources currently feeding the system; add new local sources and eliminate those that have ceased to operate or have fallen below a quality threshold.
  • Update, refine, and modify the Boulder taxonomy to reflect changes to the community and its interests since the last update.
  • On a regular basis, perform nominal manual-curation tasks (human oversight of a primarily automated system).
  • Work with external media sources (local media websites, student media, etc.) to implement custom Slices of Boulder local-content widgets matching their local-topic specialties.
  • Complete a snapshot inventory of the Boulder area’s news-and-information online media-sphere, based on’s taxonomy and sources database.
  • Establish a system to track evolution of and changes to the local media-sphere by source types; identify strengths and weaknesses in local news and information, especially to watch for topics and issues that become under-covered or not covered over time; and identify local-news and -information providing opportunities for journalists and other information providers.
  • Write and publish a research report on the changing local media-scape, using Boulder as an example, and include lessons and recommendations for other communities that are experiencing a shifting local-media landscape.


QRANK mobile/Facebook CU news quiz and research project

Date posted: July 4, 2011
Benefit type: Hourly student pay and/or independent-study credit
Supervisor: Steve Outing, program director, Digital News Test Kitchen, CU JMC
[wpreveal title="Click to see description..."] Project description: The Digital News Test Kitchen,, and Richochet Labs (Austin, Texas-based developers of the Qrank news-and-trivia quiz game) have teamed up to operate a CU- and Boulder-specific version of the popular Qrank quiz, which can be played, currently, on an iPhone or on Facebook. (The CU quiz will resume for fall semester 2011, after a summer break.) We are seeking a JMC graduate student to:

  • Work with editors to coordinate, write, and publish questions for the daily quiz. Also advise CUI marketing staff on promoting and growing the game on the Boulder campus.
  • Research and write non-local news and trivia questions for the CU quiz. (In order to maintain strong interest by CU student players, a mix of questions has been deemed best in keeping Qrank players hooked day after day.)
  • Analyze players’ scoring trends as part of a research project to determine if a mobile/online news game can improve news literacy and alter student news-consumption behavior.
  • Identify “super-users” (frequent players of the CU Qrank quiz) and interview them to learn how the game has impacted their interaction with and consumption of news.


Disruptive Media Guide video production, ethical & legal reviews

Date posted: July 4, 2011
Benefit type: Please inquire
Supervisor: Steve Outing, program director, Digital News Test Kitchen, CU JMC
[wpreveal title="Click to see description..."] Project description: A new project of the Digital News Test Kitchen is an ongoing guide to “disruptive” media tools, apps, websites, etc. A component of the project is a website/blog,, which will publish multi-faceted guides to using the tools/apps/sites, including: descriptions and potential journalistic (and citizen) applications of the technology; discussion of ethical considerations of using the technology; legal considerations; and short videos demonstrating how to use the technology as well as showing examples of applying the technology to journalistic purposes. We’re looking for students to:

  • Script and produce the short videos.
  • Experiment with and use the technology, then write description and application articles.
  • Research and write ethical-considerations articles.
  • Research and write legal-consideration articles.

There are several options for participating in this project, including: on a freelance per-job basis paid at per-project rates; as a regular contributor with ongoing assignments; work produced as part of a relevant CU course where the instructor may be able to assign course credit for assignments completed for

(Note: At this time the under-construction website is password-protected. If you would like to view what’s been done so far, use login “guest” and password “dmg”.)[/wpreveal]

‘TrustIt?’ news-source credibility system

Date posted: June 25, 2011
Benefit type: Please inquire
Supervisor: Steve Outing, program director, Digital News Test Kitchen, CU JMC
[wpreveal title="Click to see description..."]Project description: The Digital News Test Kitchen is looking for a CU JMC graduate student to take on a major role in a research-and-development project (working title, “TrustIt?”) about measuring credibility of news and information websites. If media- and digital-literacy are important concepts to you, and you would like an opportunity to help develop an open-source web application working with a CU Computer Science student, consider applying for this opportunity.[/wpreveal]

Predict-the-news social gaming and its impact on news consumption, awareness, and engagement

Date posted: January 5, 2011
Benefit type: Academic credit (independent study); possibly and/or hourly pay
Supervisor: Steve Outing, program director, Digital News Test Kitchen, CU JMC
[wpreveal title="Click to see description..."]Project description: This is a research project associated with an experiment being conducted at, the Boulder campus’ student-run news service, during spring 2010. In collaboration with Niwot-based Prediculous, selected CUI news, pop-culture, and sports coverage will include opportunities for readers to predict the next development in a story, then receive points for correct predictions and compete against other players at CU-Boulder. (E.g., a CU Buffs game-preview story would include a feature asking readers to predict the score, most-valuable player, etc.; an article about an upcoming Board of Regents meeting would ask readers to predict how the Regents will vote on a controversial issue.) Players are kept apprised of their results and standing compared to other players as news events unfold and prediction outcomes are tallied. This experiment is designed to determine if such an online and mobile news game tied to social networks and social competition can impact news consumers in positive ways, by improving: user awareness of news events; long-term tracking of specific news topics (vs. reading about an issue once and forgetting about it); reader engagement with news; amount of news consumed by game players vs. non-players; effectiveness of “the crowd” in accurately predicting news outcomes; etc.

Researcher’s role: The staff will be handling ongoing operation of the predict-the-news game, including selecting stories to include in the game and writing questions. The Digital News Test Kitchen seeks a researcher to follow the implementation of the game and determine the impact it has on news-consumption behavior patterns of CU students and other CUI users. This may include:

  • Analyzing data on news prediction outcomes. (How well can “the crowd” predict news developments?)
  • Web analytics review to assess impact of news predictions game on time spent on website; average number of pages viewed per session; amount of content read on prediction stories vs. those without; impact of predictions game on types of content (campus news, sports, pop-culture, etc.).
  • Running focus groups, individual interviews, and surveys to determine behavior changes by prediction-game players in news consumption, understanding, and engagement.
  • Researching “gamification” techniques and theories and their applications for news and other fields.
  • Managing and complying with university IRB procedures throughout the research process.
  • Producing and publishing a final report on findings from the predict-the-news social gaming experiment.


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