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2006 Knight-Batten Award Winners

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Seven new ways to connect people with news – from showing every Congressional vote, to warning where hurricanes will strike, to blogging the world – are the winners of this year’s Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism.

“The hallmark of this year’s entries was the use of basic technology to add value to the process of journalism and not just the packaging,” said Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab, which administers the awards program.

“News organizations are getting beyond the veneer of pretty production and are letting citizens into the inner working of news, helping them navigate through it, participate in it and react to it.”

A national panel of judges chose winners for a $10,000 Grand Prize, five $1,000 Awards of Distinction, and, new this year, a $1,000 Wild Card Award.

The top winner will be announced Sept. 18 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Highlighting that event will be a keynote address by Alberto Ibargüen, president and chief executive of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which funds the awards. To attend the awards symposium and luncheon, RSVP to

“As we watch our media consumption habits change dramatically, it is exciting to find innovators out there on the edge, inventing new ways to tell important stories,” said Knight-Batten Advisory Board chairman Bryan Monroe, vice president and editorial director of Ebony and Jet magazines.

Gary Kebbel, Knight Foundation journalism program officer, noted how this year’s awards “show how journalists are going beyond the ideas and skills previously honored as Knight-Batten winners and are pushing innovative ideas further each year.”

The Knight-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 winners as well as many other notable entries at This year’s winners are: – A clearinghouse for health news launched by a University of Minnesota professor to help journalists write accurate medical reports and help consumers find useful health news. A team of 20 professional reviewers audit news articles from 50 of the largest newspapers, broadcast television stations and the Associated Press, assessing strengths and shortcomings based on 10 standardized criteria. At least three reviewers look at each story. Stories are rated with 1 to 5 stars with an explanation of the scoring.

Global Voices Online – A network of global news and conversation from more than 160 countries run by a team of 15 international, multilingual blogger-editors. The web site’s editors select, explain, and translate citizen news and views from outside North America and Western Europe. Automated feeds cull information from blogs, vlogs, photo sites and podcasts from around the world and also deliver news to users. Translators help summarize conversations occurring in several languages, including Chinese, Arabic and Persian. Another 80 contributing bloggers post daily features of what’s important to bloggers in their country. The project is run by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.

Transparent Newsroom – The Spokane Spokesman-Review lifts the veil on the newsgathering and publishing process by webcasting daily news meetings. It also offers editor blogs to explain news of the day, and online chats where readers can criticize news coverage or pose questions. The newspaper’s web site also posts raw documents, such as interview transcripts and, on major stories, even handwritten reporter notes. – An in-depth, risk-estimator web site developed by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune to track Atlantic Ocean tropical storm and hurricane activity. This site can calculate specific buildings that are at risk as well as report actual damages. The database was created from public records of 8 million properties in the state. Users can view 155 years of hurricane activity and damage, track storms, submit their own forecasts of a storm’s path, assess possible damage, and report actual damage. Real-time weather alerts map and track storms as they are developing.

U.S. Congress Votes Database – A searchable database, updated daily, enables users to research every recorded vote in the U.S. House and Senate since January 1991. Users can scan votes in many ways – by legislator, by chamber, by state or by party. Readers also can track the latest vote by any member of Congress. It includes an interactive map for monitoring battleground Congressional races and links to campaign finance information.

Bakersfield Californian’s Social Media Platform – A newly developed participatory media platform, Bakomatic, extends the networking concept of the popular to a local area. The Bakersfield Californian’s seven community sites use Bakomatic to allow people to create profiles, add to a Friends list, and submit stories, photos and events for publication. It helps develop interest groups within geographic communities. – A local news web site for the Twin Cities – Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. – that brings together the best work of more than 35 local and ethnic news organizations to cover undercovered communities, trigger new community alliances, and train citizens to participate and contribute to the news. (TCDailyPlanet received start-up funding last year under the Knight-funded New Voices program, which J-Lab also administers.)

The winners were selected from 109 entries, submitted by print, television and online news organizations and education and non-profit institutions.

The Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism honor the late James K. Batten, former CEO of Knight Ridder newspapers and a pioneer in exploring ways journalism could better connect with audiences.

To attend the Knight-Batten Symposium and luncheon, RSVP to or call (202) 885-8100. The events are free. To receive information about the Knight-Batten Awards or subscribe to J-Lab’s newsletter, e-mail

The winners were selected by an Advisory Board led by Bryan Monroe. They included the Knight Foundation’s Gary Kebbel; Jody Brannon, Senior Editor,; Mark Hinojosa, Associate Managing Editor-Electronic News, The Chicago Tribune; Jim Brady, Executive Editor,; Lee Rainie, Executive Director, Pew Internet & American Life Project; Rosental C. Alves, Director, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas; Chris Harvey, Online Bureau Director & Lecturer, Philip Merrill College of Journalism; Tom Kunkel, Dean, Philip Merrill College of Journalism; and Jan Schaffer, J-Lab Executive Director.

The Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities.

J-Lab helps news organizations and citizens use new media technologies to create fresh ways for people to participate in public life.

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