Storify Screen Capture
The Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism recently announced the recipients of this year’s honors. The $10,000 grand prize was awarded to Storify for its drag-and-drop utilities that allow users to create dynamic, multimedia, Web-based stories in an embeddable platform. Creators can pull together video, photos, and text from sites like Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook.

Storify — not to be confused with the similarly named Storyful — launched last year but only became fully open for public use in April 2011. Co-founder Burt Herman is former foreign correspondent and consulting editor for interactive design and multimedia at the Associated Press. Herman says that Storify is about “taking the best of user-generated or crowd-generated content and combining it with journalistic oversight to use that to tell stories. Citizen journalism is not replacing journalists, but at the same time journalists should use the best of the material that’s out there. Reporters can’t be everywhere that something’s happening.”

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation funds the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism, which provides $16,000 to honor creative use of technologies in the news industry. Particular attention is paid to ideas that significantly enhance digital engagement, such as increasing audience participation or finding new ways to disseminate information. The awards are administered by J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism at the American University School of Communication.

It’s not surprising that Storify took home the grand prize since several of the other 123 entries built their own submissions using the tool. “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,” says Knight-Batten judge Amy Webb, speaking for the selection panel.

Special Distinction Awards, which also include cash prizes, went to NPR‘s Andy Carvin, West Africa Democracy Radio, Bloomberg Government, and The Texas Tribune. Honorable mentions were given to Biblion,, Guardian Data, and Bay Citizen Bike Tracker. All of the winners will discuss their projects at a symposium and luncheon September 7 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The keynote speaker will be Katharine Weymouth, CEO of Washington Post Media and publisher of The Washington Post.

There are other organizations currently making innovative strides in the news industry. The projects listed below are but a few examples.

  • Truthsquad
    Truthsquad began as a news curator, but will shift into a new role as fact-checking network this fall, motivated by the upcoming elections. The site will offer tools, including embeddable widgets, to allow the public to help separate fact from fiction in reporting. Readers cast their vote then submit supporting evidence, and Truthsquad editors render the final verdict. The organization recently received additional financial backing from Craig Newmark and began a partnership with the Center for Public Integrity.
  • TapIn BayArea
    In partnership with the newspapers of the Bay Area News Group (BANG), Tackable has rolled out an iPad app called TapIn BayArea. Tackable co-founder Luke Stangel dubs it “the world’s first location-aware digital newspaper.” Users can submit a variety of news items based on their location, either in response to “gigs” from journalists at partner newspapers or of their own accord.
  • Newsmotion
    Newsmotion, a new startup produced by a collective of award-winning journalists and media industry insiders, aims to cover international events with long-term storytelling continuity in mind. The site hasn’t launched yet, but plans to combine yet distinguish coverage from three different sources — Official, Unofficial, and Citizen. A byproduct of the Egyptian revolution coverage, Newsmotion will pay special attention to topics such as social justice and human rights.

Source: “Storify Wins $10,000 Knight-Batten Award,” J-Lab, 07/27/11
Source: “Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism,” J-Lab, date unknown
Source: “‘Why are we just doing static things?’: Burt Herman talks dynamic storytelling with Storify,”, 11/03/10
Source: “Storify wins $10,000 Knight-Batten journalism innovation award,” Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, 08/04/11
Source: “NewsTrust dives into the fact-check business with expanded Truthsquad,” Nieman Journalism Lab, 07/26/11
Source: “Tackable, BANG collaborate on a location-based digital newspaper,” Nieman Journalism Lab, 07/19/11
Source: “Newsmotion wants to bring artistry and the wealth of networks to the coverage of international news, Nieman Journalism Lab, 07/08/11
Screen capture of Storify used under Fair Use: Reporting.

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