2011 Knight-Batten Award Winners

By: Press Release | J Lab

Washington, D.C.Storify, the social media publishing platform that lets users create stories by dragging and dropping elements from such social networks as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube, is this year’s $10,000 Grand Prize winner in the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism.

“In Storify, we see a journalism tool that truly solves a newsroom problem and also inspires others to challenge the way they’ve been telling stories,” said Knight-Batten judge Amy Webb, speaking for the selection panel.

“Scarcely a year into its existence, Storify has become so essential the word storify has become a verb,” said Jan Schaffer, director of J-Lab, which administers the awards. Several of this year’s applicants built their entries around the tool, she said.

Four other projects that use social media, data and open-source software were awarded Special Distinction cash prizes. Also named are four Honorable Mentions.

The winners will discuss their projects at a symposium and luncheon Sept. 7 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.  The event is free but registration is required.

Katharine Weymouth, CEO of Washington Post Media and publisher of The Washington Post, will be the keynote speaker.

Honored with Special Distinction Awards are:

West Africa Democracy Radio ($2,000):  This Dakar-based network of radio stations serving 13 countries in West Africa designed a publishing system that works for those without resources. Partnering with the Czech journalism nonprofit Sourcefabric, WADR integrated several open-source tools, including the Newscoop CMS, Airtime radio software and the SoundCloud audio-distribution platform to publish reports in French and English online, on air and on social media sites.

NPR’s Andy Carvin and his Twitter community ($2,000):  Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, NPR’s Andy Carvin has pioneered a new form of journalism, using his online followers to piece together and validate real-time reports that documented historic events in the Middle East. By using his Twitter account as a newsgathering operation, he has demonstrated how reporting can be done remotely and created a highly engaged community of more than 50,000 Twitter followers.

Bloomberg Government ($1,000): Meshing interactive data, analytics, deep-dive white papers, traditional reporting and a pay wall, BGov is building a new way to cover government with a subscription-only website that quantifies the impact of government action on business and that, it asserts, is “on track to be a profitable venture.”

The Texas Tribune ($1,000): The Tribune nonprofit news startup has made data fundamental to its journalism, giving users access to robust and contextualized data sets, transparently sourced and beautifully presented. The site’s interactive graphics, visualizations, document annotations, budget applications and searchable data sets are its most popular feature, drawing 63 percent of its 13 million page views in the first four months of this year.

Cited as Honorable Mentions:

Biblion: The New York Public Library’s iPad app, initially centering on the 1939-1940 World’s Fair, allows users to enter virtual library stacks and go down beautiful rabbit holes filled with staggering depths of information.

Community Engagement: In an ambitious School Reform Town Hall and an ongoing New Haven’s Talking initiative, this six-year-old nonprofit news site has become the fulcrum for partnerships that involve the community, local media, experts and public officials in discussing issues in interactive and compelling ways.

Guardian Data: The Guardian newspaper’s innovative use of Google Spreadsheets and Google Fusion tables paved the way for sharing data through social media and crowdsourcing, including such high-profile stories as tracking Members’ of Parliament expenses and WikiLeaks disclosures.

Bay Citizen Bike Tracker
: This application plots thousands of Bay Area bike collisions on an interactive map that discloses individual accidents, key locations and road conditions.

This year’s winners were selected from 123 entries. “This year’s innovations demonstrate how journalists keep developing clever ways to open up the process of journalism to new contributors and seekers of information,” said Jose Zamora, Knight Foundation journalism program associate.

The Knight-Batten Awards honor creative uses of new technologies to engage citizens in public issues and showcase compelling models for future newsgathering. They are funded by Knight Foundation and administered by J-Lab, a center of American University’s School of Communication.

“It’s astonishing each year to see the innovation and creativity in our industry. But this year was a giant leap forward, perhaps because of entries recognizing the impact of previous Knight-Batten winners,” said Advisory Board chairperson Jody Brannon.

Selecting the winners was an advisory board that included Knight Foundation’s Jose Zamora; Jody Brannon, national director of the Carnegie-Knight News21 Initiative; Jim Brady, digital leader, Journal Register Co.; Amy Eisman, director of writing programs and the Graduate Weekend Interactive Journalism Program, American University School of Communication; Howard Finberg, director of interactive learning, The Poynter Institute; Gary Kebbel, dean and professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Journalism and Mass Communications; Matt Thompson, editorial product manager, National Public Radio (NPR); Amy Webb, CEO and principal consultant, webbmedia LLC; Kinsey Wilson, senior vice president and general manager, Digital Media, NPR; Richard Harwood, founder and president, Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, and J-Lab’s Jan Schaffer.

About John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.

About J-Lab
J-Lab is a journalism catalyst for igniting news ideas that work. It funds pilot projects, awards innovations and shares practical insights from years of working with news creators and evolving news ecosystems.

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