Wired.com's WikiScanner Coverage Wins $10,000 Knight-Batten Innovation Award

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Wired.com's WikiScanner coverage, which helped readers investigate and expose ego-editing and corporate whitewashing of Wikipedia entries, is this year’s $10,000 Grand Prize winner in the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism.

Wired.com invited readers to use new technology to get all IP addresses assigned to a particular company, organization or government department, then track the anonymous edits made from those addresses anywhere in Wikipedia. Their reports, on the site’s “Threat Level” blog, “insert an air of accountability to those who edit Wikipedia to fit their own agendas,” the judges said.

Two projects each won $2,000 Special Distinction Awards:

  • PolitiFact.com – This site identifies false and partially true statements in the 2008 presidential campaigns, rating election messages by candidate, issue or ruling. Its “Truth-o-Meter” scores for accuracy. Its “Pants on Fire” feature calls false statements to account. “Others have attempted similar projects, but PolitiFact stands out for making detailed research easy to get,” said the judges. The site is a collaboration between the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly.
  • Ushahidi: Crowdsourcing Crisis Information – Modeling grassroots information-sharing amid a crisis, Kenyan techies launched a site where bloggers and citizen journalists could text eyewitness accounts and map incidents of political violence in the wake of a corrupted presidential election. “A perfect example of how far-reaching and important citizen reports can be,” the judges said.

Winning a $2,000 Citizen Media Award is the ambitious JDLand.com, Jacqueline Dupree’s digital chronicle of redevelopment, construction and community concerns in Washington, D.C.’s rapidly changing Southeast/ Ballpark district. Using text, Twitter, interactive maps, and before-and-now photos, the site is “an incredible wealth of information, especially impressive for a one-person effort,” the judges said.

“This year’s winners show us how creative minds are using new technologies to connect people to hidden truths and hard-to-find information,” said Jan Schaffer, director of J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, which administers the awards.

Four more excellent efforts were awarded Honorable Mentions:

  • Hope: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica – This multimedia project used poetry as a moving way to cover the impact of  HIV/AIDS in Jamaica. Commissioned by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the project is “an eloquent example of putting human faces on an epidemic often painted with statistics,” the judges said.
  • Iowa’s Deadly Tornado – After a May tornado ripped through Parkersburg, Iowa, The Des Moines Register created a house-by-house, color-coded map embedded with first-person survivor accounts, surveillance and cell phone video, before-and-after photographs, and obituaries to chronicle the path of destruction.
“Captivating and gut-wrenching,” the judges said.
  • iReport.com – CNN’s ground-breaking user-generated news site has not only hosted tens of thousands of videos, but the best reports are verified and expanded by CNN reporters and also posted to CNN.com, “adding value by giving higher play to the best and newsiest iReports,” the judges said.
  • U.S. Congress MAPLight.org – A massive database that tracks and connects the votes of members of Congress and contributions from supporters and opponents of specific bills. “Never before have citizens been able to so easily track the influences on their elected officials,” the judges said.

"Today. the future of journalism depends on innovation more than ever before,” said Gary Kebbel, Knight Foundation’s journalism program director. “The Knight-Batten Awards play an important role in detecting early innovation trends that later become common."

You can view the finalists as well as 24 other notable entries at www.j-lab.org. The winners were honored today at a symposium and luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Highlighting the event is a keynote address by one of the nation’s leading media innovators: Bill Kling, President and CEO of American Public Media, Minnesota Public Radio, and Chair of Gather.com.

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. They are administered by J-Lab, a center of American University's School of Communication.

Selecting the winners was an Advisory Board that included the Knight Foundation's Gary Kebbel and Jose Zamora; Jody Brannon, national director of the Carnegie-Knight News 21 initiative; Jim Brady, Executive Editor, washingtonpost.com; Bill Buzenberg, Executive Director, Center for Public Integrity; Nick Charles, Vice President for Digital Content, BET Interactive; Lee Rainie, Executive Director, Pew Internet & American Life Project; Chuck Lewis, Founder, Investigative Journalism Workshop, AU’s School of Communication; Wendell Cochran, Professor, AU’s School of Communication; Chris Harvey, Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland; and Jan Schaffer, J-Lab Director.

About Knight Foundation
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 www.knightfoundation.org.

About J-Lab

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 (www.kcnn.org and             http://www.J-Learning.org), the New Voices community media grant program (www.j-newvoices.org) and the McCormick New Media Women Entrepreneurs initiative (www.newmediawomen.org).

About the 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. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.