Wick Communications

Awards point to a new way

In Innovation on 7 Sep 2012 at 8:07 am

Recently, the Online News Association announced finalists for a slew of new media awards. “Innovation” is a word that gets thrown around so much that it’s just about devoid of meaning. That said, I think the work noted by the ONA represents some real thought toward advancing our field with new technology and a use of data our predecessors never dreamed possible.

The list is worth grazing, if you have a moment. Pay particular attention to the fact that the best reporters don’t consider their work done when the writing is finished. They are gathering data for maps, making slideshows, taking video and producing Web packages that highlight their reporting and lead readers to one inescapable conclusion: This is must-see reporting.

Here are a couple examples that jump out at me:

  • Homicide Watch D.C. The motto is, “Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case.” It is a WordPress blog like this one that attempts to follow every homicide in the nation’s capital. It isn’t designed like a blotter, but rather as a wiki, with maps, photos and court documents.
  • The Texas Tribune is a non-profit media outfit that attempts to promote civic engagement in Texas by expansive reporting on state political issues. The organization hosts events, features data, broadcasts news reports, highlights interesting tweets – you can not be a Texas news junkie and leave this thing alone.
  • Harvest Public Media is a collection of blogs and news dedicated to “cultivating stories from the ground up.” It deals with big issues, like the nation’s Farm Bill, and small troubles of individual farmers. There is a robust back and forth among networked farmers both on the site and among 1,400 Facebook friends. …

And there are many more like these. The one thing these sites have in common is an embrace of the unknown. They don’t look like news sites, by and large. And the vast majority seek to engage readers. There is a lesson in there for all of us. It’s not enough to push news to people any more. It’s a brave new world.



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