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New York Times Wins Top Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The New York Times swept top honors in the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism with six striking entries that netted the $10,000 Grand Prize for a dynamic body of work in the past year.

“This year’s winner shows that even the biggest, most prestigious news organizations can create just the kinds of small, nimble teams they need to successfully innovate in the digital age,” said Jan Schaffer, director of J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, which administers the awards. J-Lab is a center of American University’s School of Communication.

A national panel of judges also chose winners for five $1,000 Special Distinction Awards, including one for Nonprofit Journalism, and a $1,000 Citizen Media Award.

“The Knight-Batten Award honors excellent, innovative journalism, news and information – not just excellent journalism,” said Gary Kebbel, Journalism Program Director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which funds the awards.

The Times’ body-of-work award honors initiatives created in the newsroom and the technology department:

  • Represent, which helps city residents keep tabs on their elected officials, culling information from dozens of sources into a Facebook-style activity feed.
  • Document Reader, which allows documents to be posted online in a clean interface that allows searching, bookmarking, comments and annotations.
  • Custom Times, a prototype for personalized Times news reports that seamlessly transition across print, Web, mobile, television and even the car.
  • Debate Analysis Tool, a replicable tool that allowed users to watch the 2008 presidential debates and speeches on demand with a searchable transcript scrolling simultaneously alongside.
  • Living with Less, engaging audio and video portraits of peoples’ lives that have been upended by the recession.
  • One Word, a replicable tool that asked users on Election Day to share “What One Word Describes Your Current State of Mind?”

Winning $1,000 Special Distinction Awards are:

  • Printcasting, a Web site that allows people to create niche magazines for their communities from their own blog posts and from other blogs and publications that have registered on the site. Advertisers can create their own ads and target which magazines to appear in. Revenues are shared.
  • Apture, a powerful multimedia program that allows Web content creators to embed images, video, audio and screen grabs into articles so that the content pops up in a small window in the same screen, allowing users to get more information without opening new windows or tabs.
  • Change Tracker, a Web application developed at ProPublica that monitors content changes on and that is being shared to allow other news organizations to monitor Web sites.
  • Patchwork Nation, a Web site shared by The Christian Science Monitor and the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer that uses reams of demographic data to track how the nation’s 3,100-plus counties are dealing with an era of dramatic changes in politics, culture and the economy.

Winning a $1,000 Citizen Media Award for innovative and useful citizen participation:

  •, an-easy-to use vehicle by the Star News in Wilmington, N.C., that lets people ask questions and get answers from reporters that are cataloged for future reference.

Winning a $1,000 Special Distinction Award for Nonprofit Journalism is The Center for Public Integrity for its innovative uses of digital tools to unpack complex topics in a body of work that included:

This year’s winners were selected from 92 entries. The winners will showcase their projects at a September 17 symposium and awards luncheon at the Newseum. The event is free, but space is limited and pre-registration is required; e-mail to register.

In addition to the winners you can view 21 other notable entries at

The Knight-Batten Awards honor creative uses of new technologies to engage citizens in public issues and showcase compelling models for the future of news.

Participating in this year’s judging were Jody Brannon, national director, Carnegie-Knight News21, Arizona State University; Jim Brady, digital editorial consultant, Guardian America; Amy Webb, principal of Webbmedia Group; Jose Antonio Vargas, technology and innovations editor, The Huffington Post; Bill Buzenberg, executive director, Center for Public Integrity; Lee Rainie, founder, Pew Internet & American Life Project; Amy Eisman, director of writing programs, and Larry Kirkman, dean, American University’s School of Communication; the Knight Foundation’s Kebbel and J-Lab’s Schaffer.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes journalism excellence worldwide and invests in the vitality of the U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950 the foundation has granted more than $400 million to advance journalism quality and freedom of expression. Knight Foundation focuses on ideas and projects that create transformational change. To learn more, visit

J-Lab helps news organizations and citizens use digital technologies to develop new ways for people to participate in public life. It also administers the Knight Citizen News Network (, the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism,, and the McCormick New Media Women Entrepreneurs initiative (

American University’s School of Communication is a laboratory for professional education, communication research and innovative production in the fields of journalism, film and media arts and public communication, working across media platforms and with a focus on public affairs and public service.

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