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Knight-Batten Awards Finalists Deliver Fresh Ideas for Journalists

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A national panel of judges has selected five finalists to win the 2004 Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism, showcasing several inventive ideas – from telling multiple sides of a story, to crafting visual narratives, to creating novel ways for people to interact with the news.

The $10,000 winner, a $2,000 runner-up and three $1,000 Awards of Distinction will be announced Sept. 10 at the Batten Symposium at the National Press Club, Washington, DC. The symposium will showcase the winners’ efforts and other innovative ideas from around the country.

Online news innovator Rob Curley, who has spearheaded some of the country’s edgiest Internet news sites, will keynote the luncheon. Curley is Director of New Media for The World Company and the leader of World Online, the Internet division of the Lawrence (KS) Journal-World.

“This year, we were particularly impressed with simple ideas, executed well, that broke the rules and set a fresh, new standard of storytelling,” said Bryan Monroe, chairman of the Batten Awards Advisory Board and Knight Ridder assistant vice president/ news. “These winners truly innovated, opening our eyes to future possibilities for news.”

The Batten Awards spotlight the creative use of new information ideas and technologies to involve citizens actively in public issues. They are administered by J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism at the University of Maryland.

View the following finalists and see other notable entries and election entries

* “P.O.V.‘s Borders/ Environment,” POV Interactive
A Web-original series that explores individual choices for using air, water and land and that employs non-linear storytelling, digital art, and interactive opportunities. “Interesting and important content, highly educational and interactive, beautifully presented,” the judges said. “It’s like 3-D chess.”

* “You Decide,” KQED, San Francisco
A richly reported monthly Web series that dissects key national issues to core arguments, pro and con, then plays online devil’s advocate, challenging user opinions with points and counterpoints. “A different model for reporting both sides of a story and a classic example of where public policy is a conversation and not a lecture,” the judges said.

* “The Nature of Things: The Investigation of Swissair 111,”
An online investigation that uses animation and video to present a straightforward account of the
crash. It was both informational and applauded by victims’ families. “Powerful storytelling, splendid
navigation, innovative touches throughout,” the judges said.

* “Sing My Song,”
A five-chapter tour of West Virginia’s NewSong Festival through the participants’ eyes. Conceived for the Web, it was extended to a full page inside the paper. Users could vote for their five favorite songs and compare their picks with the judges’ selections. “It embraces the aspirations and journeys of ordinary people aspiring to achieve their dreams,” the judges said. “An exciting template for interactive entertainment news.”

* “A Tribute to our Troops,”, Providence Journal
An effortless, interactive database that allows readers to create a Web page for an individual soldier or troop and post messages or photos. About 80,000 messages have been posted to about 6,300 Web pages. “An extremely simple exercise in small-J journalism that was very community interactive,” the judges said. “It’s like the Civil War letters.”

The finalists were selected from 70 entries, submitted by print, television, radio, and online news organizations as well as educational and non-profit institutions.

The Batten Awards and Symposium are funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. They honor the late James K. Batten, former CEO of Knight Ridder and a pioneer in exploring ways journalism could better connect with audiences.

To attend the Batten Symposium and luncheon, RSVP to

Also participating in this year’s judging in addition to Monroe were Mark Hinojosa, associate managing editor, electronic news, the Chicago Tribune; Dale Peskin, co-director, The Media Center; Mike McCurry. Partner, Public Strategies Washington Inc.; Jody Brannon, executive producer-news,; Chris Harvey, Director, Maryland Newsline, and Susan Moeller, assistant professor, both of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland; and Jan Schaffer, J-Lab executive director.

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