Innovation in News: Check out the future of investigative reporting

A lot the hand wringing that results from the decline of newspapers has to do with the issue of investigative reporting and enterprise reporting. These are the types of things that decaying business model of newspapers has historically enabled.
We still don’t know exactly how to solve that, but it’s worth noting a couple of bright spots amid the gloom. Take a moment and check out the winners of the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism that were announced today by J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism. The top four all offer up a kind of investigative reporting 2.0. I’m not saying that this isn’t still a big issue to be solved. It is. But these three projects all offer innovative approaches that deliver investigative and enterprise reporting that in some ways is better and richer that newspapers could have traditionally delivered. And the four winners represent a mix of old and new media.

The winnners according to press release:

*Wired.com’s WikiScanner: “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.

Check out all the winners here.

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