COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Five newsroom initiatives that used technology in innovative ways to involve people in the news have been selected as the first finalists in the new Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism.
The $10,000 winner and two $2,500 runners-up will be announced Sept. 15 at the Batten Awards Symposium in Washington, D.C., according to Jan Schaffer, director of J-LAB: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, the University of Maryland center that sponsors the awards. The symposium will showcase the winners’ efforts and other journalism innovations around the country.
“These newsrooms have really risen to the challenge of doing good, fundamental storytelling in fresh, exciting ways,” said Bryan Monroe, chairman of the Batten Awards Advisory Board and Knight Ridder assistant vice president/ news. “They should serve as models for other newsrooms, big and small, showing that all it takes to create innovative journalism is a great idea, a bit of time, and, most of all, the will and the leadership to make great things happen.”
Visit www.j-lab.org to view these finalists and other notable entries:
- Minnesota Public Radio’s “Budget Balancer,” a 19-page Web game that challenged users to fix the state’s $4.2 billion deficit by cutting programs and raising taxes without spending too much political capital; 7,000 visitors submitted 11,000 budgets.
- The Chicago Tribune’s “When Evil Struck America,” a CD-ROM time capsule distributed to more than 1 million subscribers on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attacks. Interactive and easy to navigate, it boosted single-day street sales of the newspaper by 100,000.
- The San Francisco Chronicle’s “Two Cents” project, a “virtual man-on-the-street” effort involving a database of more than 1,450 “field correspondents,” residents who contribute and react to articles, opinion pieces and a standing op-ed column.
- MSNBC.com’s “The Big Picture,” a sophisticated series of in-depth guided tours on three subjects – Iraq, the 2002 elections, and the Oscars – that integrated video, audio, text, interactive polls and games into playful, yet informative, multimedia packages intended to give the big-picture overview on the topics.
- VillageSoup.com for its community media Web sites that are delivering homespun news and information to three Maine towns, along with interactive virtual tours and e-mails of scenic postcards.
The finalists were selected from 44 entries submitted by traditional print and electronic news organizations and by non-profit news initiatives.
The Batten Awards pay tribute to news organizations that use technology in innovative ways to engage people in important issues. It honors the late James K. Batten, former CEO of Knight Ridder and a pioneer in exploring ways journalism could better connect with audiences.
The awards program is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and administered by J-LAB, a center at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park.
Also participating in the judging were Jody Brannon, executive producer-news, USAToday.com; Mark Hinojosa, associate managing editor, electronic news, the Chicago Tribune; Mike McCurry of Public Strategies Washington and chairman, Grassroots Enterprise Inc; Lee Rainie, executive director, Pew Internet & American Life Project; and Chris Harvey, online bureau director and lecturer, and Tom Kunkel, dean, both of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
Other notable entries included: “The Experiment: Gay and Straight,” WFLD-TV (Fox), Chicago; Vote by Issue Quiz, WBUR-FM, Boston; “Crack: Up in Smoke,” BET.com, Washington, DC; 2003 School Report Card, The Philadelphia Inquirer; News4 Colorado Online Election Coverage, Denver; The Sonic Memorial Project, Picture Projects, New York City; “Complicity,” The Hartford (CN) Courant; “Redevelopment of Penn’s Landing,” The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Also, “Merging Media,” The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer; Digital Newsbooks, Roger Fidler, Kent State University; “Ax & Tax,” budget exercise, The Seattle Times; “Tragedy over Texas,” DallasNews.com and WFAA.com; “The Boy Monk,” The Orange County (CA) Register; “You Build It,” The Seattle Times; “The Station Fire Extra,” the Providence Journal’s projo.com “Wide Angle,” Thirteen/WNET, New York; and “Fighting for Rochester’s Future,” The Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY.