What does “a place to hack” mean?

Robert Niles posted a list of 8 things journalism students should demand from their journalism schools. Included on that this was “a place to hack”

Online is becoming the dominant news publish medium. And online publishing will not look the way it does today 10 years from now, just as it looks little now like it did 10 years ago. Students need forums in which to explore and test their interactive publishing skills. They need sandboxes in which to play.

While traditional syllabi train students in established story forms, students must demand time and access to explore emerging forms, in social media and whatever else they might dream up. Hacking isn’t simply programming; it’s an attitude that encourages people to find new uses for old forms. That’s something journalism desperately needs. If a school doesn’t provide those opportunities for its students, they must demand it.

This is the tricky one on Niles’ list, but I think the most important one. Here’s the question: What does “a place to hack” mean to you?

For me, it means kindergarten-like unstructured time to play with journalism tools (new and old). Of course, because this is school, you have to justify what you’re doing somehow, maybe by narrating your work as you go and having some sort of reflection on whatever the final result is.

Thoughts?

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