‘News-Gazette,’ ‘Statesboro Herald’ Top Inland Online Contest

By: E&P Staff

The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill., and the Statesboro (Ga.) Herald took top honors in Inland Press Association’s third annual New Frontier Awards recognizing newspaper online initiatives.

The New Frontier Awards competition was coordinated by Janice Castro, senior director of graduate education and teaching excellence at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Castro also serves as Inland’s New Media Committee co-chair.

Following are the winners by categories with remarks from the contest judges:

Category: General Excellence in Online News Service
(Circulation 20,000 and over)

First Place: The News-Gazette, Champaign, Ill.
URL: IlliniHQ.com
At the time of judging, the site was being updated every few minutes with an Illinois basketball game – action and commentary. The site takes full advantage of interactivity with detailed blogs, podscasts and hours of video, audio and photo galleries.

Second Place: Knoxville News Sentinel, Knoxville, Tenn.
URL: KnoxNews.com
KnoxNews.com does an excellent job producing a site that takes advantage of interactivity and new media storytelling. The site provides a simple application for use of RSS technology and text alerts for users. The site is easy to navigate and full of well-produced photo galleries, polls and videos.

Third Place: Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah
URL: Standard.net
Standard.net takes all of the best assets of multimedia storytelling and includes them in an efficient and informative news Web site. This site is commended for its creativity and out-of-the-box thinking as it applies to social media and interactivity.

(Circulation less than 20,000)
First Place: Statesboro Herald, Statesboro, Ga.
URL: StatesboroHerald.com
An iPhone application, community-submitted blogs, creative multimedia stories and excellent editorial content puts this site at the top of its category. The site has great information and seems to be challenging itself to match some of the larger online publications in its use of online storytelling.

Second Place: Northern Virginia Daily, Strasburg, Va.
URL: NVDaily.com
A great one-stop resource for residents in the area. The focus is local, and the site is commended for its efforts to inform and build community with social media.

Third Place: The Batavian, Batavia, N.Y. (online-only)
URL: TheBatavian.com
With many interactive storytelling features including polls and feedback on each story, The Batavian serves its audience with a well-edited community-focused site.

Category: Best Online Innovation
First Place: Northwest Herald, Crystal Lake, Ill.
URL: PlanItNorthwest.com
This is the most fully realized of the entries in this category. There’s a nice combination of content and utility. If I lived in this community, I would find this a valuable resource for planning my activities as well as shopping. We like the way the calendar planning integrates with-and drives traffic to-the business directory features. This was clearly a huge undertaking and a good effort for a smaller market with limited resources. The gift certificate section, which is loaded, seems to be thriving, according to the entry. We didn’t like the loud auto-start for the video on the front page-better to have the user “choose” (or not) whether to play the video. We found the category browse a much better option for finding things than the “by day” lists or searching, but there are only a handful of them. Content appears to be all/largely advertorial, which is fine but maybe could use a little labeling/disclaimer…Execution leads to multiple flavors of navigation and one-offs to external sites; not a great user experience.

Second Place: Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah
URL: Standard.net (Social media in Utah)
A model for how a community newspaper can and should use social media. They are covering the landscape pretty thoroughly and have made this a cultural priority. We like that it’s not only news staff members participating. Still, it could be better integrated into/promoted from the main site. Some of the tweetstreams and blogs haven’t been updated in awhile.

Third Place: Daily Journal, Franklin, Ind.
URL: IndySouthCoupons.com
IndySouthCoupons is a well-executed commerce/coupon site for local merchants with good local deals and a flexible model for participating businesses. Seems to have a good print/online combo strategy that’s not just an afterthought for either medium. Good street-level marketing. And 8 percent of all revenue now is a good beginning.

Category: Creative Use of Multimedia Storytelling

First Place: The Republic, Columbus, Ind.
URL: http://media-server.therepublic.com/players/HTML/201012UnitedWay/UnitedWayFire.htm
(United Way Fire on Christmas Eve)
This newsroom mobilized in a way that can only be thought of as content first and platform second. The multimedia presentation they crafted worked to the strengths of each type of media and each platform. They got online quickly with strong Web-based video. Each iteration of the video got more polished with higher production values, but the first raw footage served its purpose: alert the community to the magnitude of the emergency. Following up with still-image galleries and strong in-paper coverage, this truly was multimedia coverage of a local disaster.

Second Place: Sandusky Register, Sandusky, Ohio
URL: SanduskyRegister.com/features/decision09 (Election 2009)
The citizens of the five Ohio counties served by the Register probably never imagined their elections would receive a cable-news style Webcast. The hyperlocal election coverage served an audience that had no national or state equivalent and did so with a minimum of resources. The Webcast, featuring pre-taped and live coverage, reached thousands of users and even more participated in the chat room extending the reach and brand of the Register.

Third Place: Rome News Tribune, Rome, Ga.
URL: PrepCentralOnline.com/pages/mm_shows (GridIron Central, Prep Central, News Publishing Company)
Local sports are of tremendous interest to the local communities but lack the major players who report nationally. This show had the flair and depth of analysis usually reserved for collegiate or professional sports. The GridIron team produced more than 30 shows and covered 100 sporting events.

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