A group of UNC Chapel Hill students passed up typical summer jobs in recent months to labor in the basement of the UNC’s journalism school developing entrepreneurial ideas to improve the North Carolina court system, digitize classroom debates and help Realtors sell more homes. 

They’re part of the three-year-old Reese News Lab, a School of Media and Journalism initiative to develop new business models for the modern media world. Only students “who are willing to run through walls, stand up and take another run when they get knocked down” are accepted into the program, says the lab’s executive director,John Clark. They are paid a stipend for their work. 

“We look for students all over the university who are passionate about the future of the media industry and want to explore every single avenue possible for how the industry could grow,” he says.

Once accepted, they are presented challenges and asked to come up with solutions. From a pool of potential ideas, they team up and decide on one to further develop.

Three teams of 11 students participated in the program this summer. And last week, an audience gathered at Carroll Hall to listen to their pitches.

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