COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Global Voices Online, a web site about how news affects daily life and conversations in more than 130 countries, is this year's $10,000 Grand Prize winner in the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism.
The site uses skilled multilingual editors to find and publish thoughtful or entertaining bloggers who discuss what people are talking about in a given country. Blogs are organized by country and by topics. Global Voices Online also uses podcasts to inform readers and start conversations.
“It’s an extraordinary site that allows for both editorial gatekeeping and wide access to news and information from underreported parts of the world,” said the panel of judges.
The judges also credited the project and its corps of bloggers with helping to elevate standards in the blogosphere. Global Voices is sponsored by Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
Six more innovative efforts each received $1,000 awards. The projects ranged from a site that visually plots storm paths down to the neighborhood level, to one that allows people to see how many votes their congressional representatives have missed. Newspapers across the country have used this site to report on their representatives.
Another site seeks to improve the quality of health news reporting by having professionals rate stories on 10 different quality points.
New this year is a $1,000 Wild Card Award for an early, developing innovation. This year’s winner is TCDailyPlanet.com, which formally launched in May and gathers news from more than 35 ethnic and community news outlets in the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minn. “It targets so many fragmented city groups and helps them to connect,” the judges said.
The awards were presented at a morning symposium at the National Press Club. Highlighting the event was a keynote address by Alberto Ibargüen, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which funds the awards.
The Knight-Batten Awards spotlight the creative use of new information ideas and technologies to involve citizens in public issues. They are administered by J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism at the University of Maryland. View the winners as well as 37 other notable entries at www.j-lab.org.
Earning $1,000 Awards of Distinction are:
- HealthNewsReview.org — A clearinghouse for health news launched by a University of Minnesota professor to help journalists write accurate medical reports and help consumers find useful health news. A team of 20 professionals audit news articles from 50 of the largest newspapers, television stations and the Associated Press, assessing strengths and shortcomings based on 10 standardized criteria. “Strong methodology, great content, and a great service for reporters and the public,” the judges said.
- Transparent Newsroom — The Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review robustly invites readers into creation of the daily newspaper by webcasting every day’s news meetings, blogging its editorial decisions and responding to reader questions and criticism. “The level of transparency and the commitment from the top down is unmatched,” the judges said. “They’re doing what others don’t have the guts to do.”
- IBISEYE.com — This Sarasota Herald-Tribune web site calls up 155 years of hurricane history, tracks real-time Atlantic Ocean tropical storm activity, and predicts future damage to eight million properties in the path of any storm. “We were blown away by this amazing tool and database that also solicits the wisdom of the crowd,” the judges said.
- U.S. Congress Votes Database — This WashingtonPost.com searchable database, updated daily, enables users to research every recorded vote in the U.S. House and Senate since January 1991. “It’s national; it’s local. It’s a very powerful tool that smartly ties together many databases to allow people to follow their elected representatives,” the judges said.
- Bakersfield Californian's Social Media Platform — Its new Bakomatic participatory media platform allows local residents to build community networks by creating profiles, adding to a Friends list, and submitting stories, photos and events for publication. “Another cool way into community news and information from these nimble pioneers. They’ve done so much, so right, so early,” the judges said.
The winners were selected from 109 entries, submitted by print, television and online news organizations and education and nonprofit institutions. TCDailyPlanet last year received some start-up funding under the Knight-funded New Voices program, which J-Lab also administers.
The Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism honor the late James K. Batten, former CEO of Knight Ridder newspapers and a pioneer in exploring ways journalism could better connect with audiences.
The winners were selected by an Advisory Board led by Bryan Monroe, vice president and editorial director of EBONY and JET magazines. They included Knight Foundation's Gary Kebbel; Jody Brannon, Senior Editor, MSN.com; Mark Hinojosa, Associate Managing Editor-Electronic News, The Chicago Tribune; Jim Brady, Executive Editor, WashingtonPost.com; Lee Rainie, Executive Director, Pew Internet & American Life Project; Rosental C. Alves, Director, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas; Chris Harvey, Online Bureau Director & Lecturer, Philip Merrill College of Journalism; Tom Kunkel, Dean, Philip Merrill College of Journalism; and Jan Schaffer, J-Lab Executive Director.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes journalism excellence worldwide and invests in the vitality of U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since its creation in 1950, the foundation has invested nearly $290 million to advance journalism quality and freedom of expression. For more information on Knight’s work, visit www.knightfdn.org.
J-Lab helps news organizations and citizens use new media technologies to create fresh ways for people to participate in public life.