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New York Times Wins $10,000 Knight-Batten Innovation Award

WASHINGTON, D.C.  The New York Times received top honors today 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.

Six other winners were awarded $1,000 prizes for diverse ideas that used digital tools to supply data, embed links, track Web site changes, respond to reader questions, unpack investigative stories, and even publish customized news in printed form.

“This year’s winners show us how creative technology can transform journalism, raise the bar on transparency and visualization of information, and tell complex stories in new and interactive ways,” 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.

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

  • Represent culls information from dozens of sources into a Facebook-style activity feed that helps NYC residents keep tabs on their state and congressional representatives “Tremendous added value for readers,” the judges said.
  • Document Reader allows documents to be posted online in a clean interface that enables searching, bookmarking, comments and annotations. “A new high-water mark for transparency.”
  • Custom Times, a prototype for personalized Times news reports, seamlessly transitions across print, Web, mobile, television and even the car. “Pioneering news anytime, anywhere.”
  • Debate Analysis Tool allowed users to view the 2008 presidential debates and speeches on demand with a searchable transcript and fact-checked insights from journalists scrolling simultaneously alongside the video. “A digital simulcast for watching, reading and truthsquading.”
  • Living with Less offers engaging audio and video portraits of peoples’ lives that have been upended by the recession. “Poignant views of the Great Recession.”
  • Word Train, a replicable tool that asked users on Election Day to share “What One Word Describes Your Current State of Mind?”  “One word can say so much.”

A national panel of judges also chose five Special Distinction Award winners, including one for Nonprofit Journalism:

  • Printcasting, a Web site that allows people to create niche magazines for their communities from their own blog posts as well as 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. “Print still counts, especially in new collaborations.”
  • 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 single window, giving readers more information in the same screen. “Sophisticated. efficient and fun.”
  • Change Tracker, a Web application developed at ProPublica that monitors content changes on and that is being shared to allow others to monitor Web sites. “Shedding light and willing to share.”
  • 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. “Deep context made easy to understand.”

The Special Distinction Award winner for Nonprofit Journalism is The Center for Public Integrity for its innovative uses of digital tools to unpack complex topics. “They set the standard for nonprofit journalism,” the judges said. CPI’s body of work included:

  • Broken Government. A searchable assessment of 120 executive branch failures of the Bush administration.
  • Tobacco Underground: The Booming Global Trade in Smuggled Cigarettes. An exposé of the black market for tobacco by 17 journalists in 13 countries.
  • Who’s Behind the Financial Meltdown? An interactive look at the nation’s top 25 sub-prime lenders and their Wall Street backers.

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. “A tremendous validation of readers.”

This year’s winners were selected from 92 entries. Today they showcased their projects at a symposium and luncheon at the Newseum and heard from three keynote panelists: The Sunlight Foundation’s Ellen Miller, YouTube’s Olivia Ma, and Nieman Journalism Lab’s Joshua Benton.
In addition to the winners, 21 other notable entries are featured at

“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 awards honor creative uses of new technologies to engage citizens in public issues and showcase compelling models for the future of news.

Participating in the 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.

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 (

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