Knight-Batten 2008 Winners
Wired.com's WikiScanner Coverage won this year's $10,000 Grand Prize.
$10,000 Grand Prize
Wired.com: WikiScanner Coverage
WIRED, San Francisco
From the Judges: “With as popular as Wikipedia has become, this tool finally inserts an air of accountability to those who edit the site to fit their own agendas.”
WIRED magazine’s blog, called “Threat Level,” made clever use of a brilliant new technology in the service of the public’s right-to-know, engaging readers in a crowd-sourced expose of corporate whitewashing of Wikipedia entries not favorable to a company’s reputation. Wired issued this invitation to its reader community: “Share Your Sleuthing! Cornered any companies polishing up their Wikipedia entries? Spotted any government spooks rewriting history? Try Virgil Griffith’s Wikipedia Scanner yourself, then submit your finds and vote on other readers’ discoveries here.”
$2,000 Special Distinction Awards
St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.
From the Judges: “Others have attempted similar projects, but PolitiFact stands out for making detailed research easy to digest and filling a need for news consumers as the 2008 election approaches.”
Reporters and researchers from the St. Petersburg Times have partnered with Congressional Quarterly to create a “bold” resource for the 2008 election. PolitiFact is a database where users can sort news items by candidate, issue or ruling. They have also developed the “Truth-o-meter” which takes election coverage and judges the accuracy of the report.
Ushahidi - Crowdsourcing Crisis Information
Ushahidi, Inc., Orlando, Fla.
From the Judges: “This site is a perfect example of just how far-reaching and important citizen journalism can be.”
A handful of Kenyan techies launched a site for bloggers and citizen journalists to report, document and map incidents of political violence following an apparently stolen presidential election. Eventually 130 people uploaded incident reports. The site modeled grassroots information-sharing in a time of crisis and censorship.
$2,000 Citizen Media Award
Jacqueline Dupree, Washington
From the Judges: “This site houses an incredible wealth of information, and it’s especially impressive for a one-person effort.”
A one-woman citizen media project to document and inform a local community about real estate development issues. Armed with a digital camera, web production skills, mapping, and a mission to inform neighbors about construction projects, plans, meetings and its impact on daily life.
Hope: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica
Bluecadet Interactive, Philadelphia
From the Judges: “This documentary-style project puts a human face on an epidemic that is so often only reported with statistics.”
A multimedia reporting project that uses poetry as an entryway into documentary-style coverage of HIV/AIDS in Jamaica. This site was commissioned by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and made possible with the Virginia Quarterly Review.
Iowa’s Deadly Tornado
The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, Iowa
From the Judges: “Captivating and gut-wrenching ... The Register did an amazing job of conveying the destruction and emotion with this interactive package.”
In May, a tornado ripped through a community in Iowa. The Des Moines Register created a house-by-house color-coded mapping to chronicle the path of destruction and its human impact. The map includes before and after photography of homes, aerial photos, text stories, videos of survivors and uses a variety of surveillance camera footage and cell phone video. The package is breath-taking and chilling.
From the Judges: “Beyond the sheer volume of citizen-generated news videos that it hosts, CNN adds value by giving higher play to the best and newsiest iReports.”
This user-generated news Web site from CNN launched in Feb. 2008. Simple Web tools invite anyone with a news story to share it, and to rate and talk about the others on the site. iReport.com’s homepage is organized by a formula that gives prominence to stories based on their community activity. News that is fresh, popular, highly rated and that provokes conversation floats to the top of the page. The best stories are verified, expanded on by CNN reporters, posted to CNN.com and marked with an “On CNN” stamp. iReport.com has received almost 20,000 stories since it’s launch.
U.S. Congress MAPLight.org
MAPLight.org, Berkeley, Calif.
From the Judges: “Every taxpayer should take a hard look at this site. Never before have citizens been able to so easily track the influences on their elected officials.”
A large-scale database combining all campaign contributions to members of Congress with how each official votes on every bill, illuminating patterns of money and influence that were never before possible to see without hours or days of effort. The MAPLight.org Web site launched May 16th, 2007 and covers all bills and votes in the current, 110th Congress. The site is updated daily within an hour of each vote on Capitol Hill.
Christian Science Monitor, Washington
This clever project bridges journalism, demographic data and blogging while tracking the travels, strategies and messages of the presidential candidates. It includes a fascinating and fresh new way to define various communities and provides entry points for citizen participation.
Purple States, LLC, New Haven, Conn.
Reality TV with a meaningful mission: Purple States produces quality video of real people covering the presidential campaign. Their first season was broadcast on nytimes.com. A national online newspaper will feature their election documentaries.
Who’s Running for What? by Gotham Gazette
Citizens Union Foundation, New York
A deep, rich and flexible online database provides citizens and others the ability to track currently elected politicians, announced and rumored candidates seeking public office in New York City.
The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, Iowa
Faced with the daunting task of informing Iowa caucus go-ers about the crowded field of 18 presidential candidates, The Des Moines Register produced innovative multimedia tools to explain how and where to participate in the caucuses, where candidates stand of a range of issues, based on their statements in debates and interviews.
The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, Iowa
The DesMoines Register partnered with YouTube to invite and Webcast citizen videos leading up to the Iowa Caucuses. Thirty people were given cameras and got to keep them if they uploaded five segments. These videos were politically diverse, some humorous, some serious, but pretty popular. It was a successful collaboration.
OffTheBus, New York
OffTheBus is a pioneering experiment in citizen-powered crowdsourcing of presidential election coverage, led by expert investigative journalists, savvy former Web political campaigners and one of the nation’s most popular and trusted blogs/news vetters. OffTheBus got scoops, broadened and deepened reporting and modeled a new spirit of journalistic collaboration with traditional news institutions, emerging online platforms, and non-profit watchdog groups.
Sunlight Foundation, Washington
The Sunlight Foundation and grantee Taxpayers for Common Sense have created a tool that gives citizens access to the tools necessary to do real investigative journalism on the issue of congressional earmarks, the once-hidden budgetary amendments to federal appropriations where members can funnel pork to pet projects and campaign donors. The research tool has also led to professional journalistic investigations and citizen action.
Adrian Holovaty, creator of 2005 Batten Grand Prize-winner chicagocrime.org, has created EveryBlock.com, which offers a Web “newspaper” for every city block in Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Enter any address, neighborhood or ZIP code in those cities, and the site shows you recent public records, news articles and other Web content that’s geographically relevant to that address. Included are civic information (building permits, crimes, restaurant inspections), news articles and blog entries, local Flickr photos and Craigslist postings, among other things. This project is the product of a $1.1M 2007 Knight News Challenge grant.
USA TODAY Travel Communities
USA TODAY, McLean, Va.
USA TODAY’s Gene Sloan had been writing a blog about cruising for over a year. In January 2008, USATODAY.com launched its new Cruise Log Community site, which added a variety of new tools to the basic architecture of the blog and recast Sloan as a “curator” of cruise content. Because of its success, within two months they launched “Today in the Sky” concentrating on the airline industry. They’ve built widgets called “Cruisedex” and “Flightdex” which track news buzz around cruise lines and airlines.
Center for Innovation in Journalism at American Public Media, St. Paul, Minn.
American Public Media created this Flash-based budget balancing game for the U.S. budget. Users choose what their core values are, then are forced to decide what needs to be cut to fully cover those values. Users are shown the strengths and weaknesses of their budget and can see how their proposed budgets stack up against other users.
The Garbage Game by Gotham Gazette
Citizens Union Foundation, New York
Gotham Gazette’s game educates, entertains and engages residents of New York City in thinking about their own waste-producing behavior while crafting solutions to the city’s problem of solid waste. The well-written text, hard facts and bold graphics make the game attractive, simple and powerful.
Virtual Grocery Store
washingtonpost.com, Arlington, Va.
The Washington Post created this interactive “grocery store” where users can select a category and then choose between name brand products to compare nutritional information while Post health and nutrition columnist Sally Squires offers tips via video. The goal is to help people make smarter decisions when grocery shopping, and the virtual grocery store is one piece of a five-part Post series on childhood obesity.
World Press Photo Interviews
University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.
University of Miami professor brings the experience of attending the World Press Photo Awards to Web. This site allows viewers to not only see the winning photos but to listen to the photographer tell the story behind the picture.
Water Wars: Ethiopia and Kenya 2008
The Common Language Project/CLPMag.org, Seattle
This powerful international multimedia reporting project by emerging journalists documents the struggles of Africans to cope with water shortages and changing landscape. Packages are distributed through mainstream and alternative media. Storytelling is accompanied with behind-the-scenes blogs. Supported by Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Living to the End
The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.
Living to the End is a project that, for the first time, gave a close-up view of how Oregon’s unique assisted suicide law works. In a series of online video diaries, Lovelle Svart, an Oregonian dying of terminal cancer, spoke directly to readers and online viewers, telling them about the tasks of her days, her thoughts, her feelings, her fears of dying. And about a big decision that lay before her: whether to use Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act to hasten her death. Readers/viewers were able to comment online and shared and contributed to the conversation about this controversial topic.
To Catch a Killer Series
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas
A 24-part serial true-crime novel, television documentary and multimedia Web package about a serial killer who victimized the Hispanic community of Fort Worth. The novel stuck to journalistic standards, but each part had a cliffhanger ending to keep readers coming back to the Star-Telegram for weeks. On the Web, users could examine documents, use interactive graphics, hear audio and video interviews and chat with the authors. Response was astoundingly positive, including from surviving victims.
Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Washington
The Pulitzer Center led a multi-platform, highly collaborative in-depth reporting project on HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean. The project brought together old and new media and reached out into both schools and the blogosphere to foster citizen engagement.
CNN.com - Impact Your World
“When disaster strikes or horrible events unfold, these are opportunities to effect change.” CNN.com’s Impact Your World reports on crises and tragedies around the world and provides links to relevant reputable charities so that readers can help. Links are to the highest rated charities by Charity Navigator, an independent non-profit that evaluates charity groups. A story about a 5-year-old Iraqi boy who was doused in gas and burned by unknown masked men has spurred 13,000 donations totaling more than $800,000 to Children’s Burn Foundation.
Current TV, San Francisco
Current TV’s citizen journalism program gathers information from Current’s social networking site, Current.com, to build stories that then go on Current TV and the Web site. Current uses an online assignment board - usually full of ideas suggested by users - to post story ideas and keep everyone on the same page. Users can then contribute with something as basic as tips or written first-hand experiences, or as complex as eye-witness video. This information and video is vetted and put together into one video news feature rather than posted separately like many other CitMedia sites.
FirstPerson on msnbc.com
msnbc.com, Redmond, Wash.
The FirstPerson collection showcases citizen reporters, photojournalists and video journalists. The site allows users to participate in discussions surrounding the news through message boards, live votes and predictions, blog comments, and links to a whole community news site, Newsvine.com. The project is a cooperative citizen journalism effort between NBC News and msnbc.com. It solicits breaking news reports from users and funnels those reports to the news desks of the television network and Web site.
KQED, San Francisco
This public radio science and environmental program in San Francisco seeks to attract a new and younger audience by hosting its audio and video features for easy playback on the KQED site and making it easy for users to embed features on other sites with a simple code cut-and-paste. In the program’s first season, 18 percent of QUEST’s audience came from online views and listens, but that number has ballooned to 40 percent (or 755,000 views and listens) in season two.
The Associated Press Mobile News Network
The Associated Press, New York
This service from AP recognizes where your Web-enabled cell phone is in the world and gives you the latest news relevant to that area. The content is provided by local newspapers as well as the AP wire. Over 100 news publishers are currently on board and providing content.
LoJoConnect.com: location-based technology + journalism
Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
A team of journalism graduate students, working under the direction of Associate Professor Rich Gordon, set out to explore “locative storytelling” - seeking to understand how journalists might use location-based technologies (such as GPS-enabled devices, mobile phones and interactive maps) to tell richer, more compelling stories. The most novel result of the students’ work was a series of three stories about Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid. The stories included narrated Web slideshows, downloadable audio tours and GPS-triggered multimedia.
The Back-of-the-Envelope Bush Library Design Contest
The Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington
For the Back-of-the-Envelope Bush Library Design Contest, The Chronicle of Higher Education asked its readers to sketch out their visions for the Bush Library with the main rule being that the designs were submitted on a size-10 envelope. The contest generated more buzz and Web hits than anything the Chronicle has done in recent history.
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