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Interactive Storytelling and Rethinking Journalism Mark 2005 Batten Award Finalists

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A national panel of judges has selected five finalists to win the 2005 Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism, honoring them for setting new standards for interactive journalism, advancing creativity in digital storytelling and recalibrating the role that news organizations play in their communities.

The judges chose a $10,000 grand prize winner, a $2,000 first place and three $1,000 Awards of Distinction. The winners will be announced Sept. 12 at the Batten Symposium at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C. The symposium will showcase the winners’ effort and spotlight other news innovations.

Highlighting the symposium will be a keynote dialogue on participatory news with Michael Kinsley, Editorial and Opinion Editor of the Los Angeles Times, and Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia, a collaboratively written online encyclopedia, and President of the Wikimedia Foundation, which recently launched WikiNews, collaboratively written online news reports.

“We were impressed again this year with the range of talents and ideas presented—from a collaboration of former broadcast professionals from Europe to the transformation of a newsroom in North Carolina to the wild idea of a lone innovator in Chicago” said Bryan Monroe, chairman of the Batten Awards Advisory Board and Knight Ridder assistant vice president/news. “Prevailing themes were the increasing transparency, accessibility and democratization of news.”

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

You can view the finalists as well as other notable entries with innovative ideas They include:

  • The View, Interactive Magazines Online (IMOL)
    A quarterly netcasting magazine crafted of hip new story forms produced by senior “solo-jos”—backpack journalists from England, the U.S. and South Africa—using video-centric Web tools to tell point-of-view stories.
  • “The Cost of War,” Newsday
    An extravaganza of detailed information and artful graphics about the U.S. effort in Iraq that set a new bar for telling fact-dense stories, inviting readers to burrow deeper into its interactive tiers of news.
  • “Town Square,” News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.
    A daring initiative to rethink the role of the newspaper in the community. It is newly evolving to incorporate community voices and heightened transparency of the newsgathering process.
    An innovative integration of a public database with Google’s online mapping technology to deliver a comprehensive, interactive experience for Chicago’s neighborhoods. It is one journalist’s ability to see all the pieces and put them together.
  • Public Insight Journalism, Minnesota Public Radio
    An imaginative venture that has built up a 10,000-person “public source network.” Its innovative online collaborative software, the “Idea Generator,” engaged people in brainstorming such public issues as the future of small towns and the racial performance gap in school test scores.

The finalists were selected from 65 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 to reserve a spot or call (202) 885-8100. The events are free.

Also participating in this year’s judging in addition to Monroe were Mark Hinojosa, associate managing editor, electronic news, the Chicago Tribune; Lee Rainie, founding director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project; Andrew Nachison, co-director, The Media Center at the American Press Institute; Jody Brannon, executive producer-news,; Chris Harvey, director, Maryland Newsline; Margaret Engel, managing editor, The Newseum; and Jan Schaffer, J-Lab executive director.

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