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2010 Knight-Batten Award Winners Announced by J-Lab

Sunlight Live is this year’s $10,000 Grand Prize winner in the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism.

Sunlight Live, the Sunlight Foundation's innovative blending of data, streaming video, liveblogging and social networking - first used at February’s bipartisan health-care summit - is this year’s $10,000 Grand Prize winner in the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism.

Sunlight Live attracted nearly 43,000 viewers, 9,800 livebloggers, and more than 1,300 tweets. The judges not only honored the project for its individual merits, but also because it highlights “the ethos that suffuses the Sunlight Foundation’s entire body of work,” said NPR’s Matt Thompson, one of this year’s judges.

“They showed how to add journalistic punch to a carefully orchestrated government event, adding context and insight to the proceedings. And they don’t stop at merely shedding light on the behind-the-scenes proceedings of government - they go a step beyond to make it fun and engaging, creating a social experience around the event.”

Six other projects that coalesced collaborations to foster unique levels of digital engagement were honored with $1,000 Special Distinction Awards. “We’re beyond the ‘wow’ phase of realizing that citizens can impact journalism and we’re now into the ‘how’ phase,” said Jan Schaffer, director of J-Lab, which administers the awards. “Welcome to the next chapter for online journalism.”

Honored this year are:

  • ProPublica’s Distributed Reporting
  • 48 HR Magazine
  • The Obameter
  • Ushahidi Haiti
  • Publish2 News Exchange
  • Sourcing Through Texting

This year’s winners were selected from 100 entries.

Read more about the winners and about the 30 notable entries.

The winners will be honored at a morning symposium Sept. 14 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.  The event is free but you must register here.

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 funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and administered by J-Lab, a center of American University’s School of Communication.

“The goal of innovation is positive change. The goal of the Knight-Batten Awards in innovation is to make the future of journalism better,” said Jose Zamora, Knight Foundation’s journalism program associate. “This round of winners brings that positive impact to journalism with new ways of collaborating and engaging citizens in the news-making process and by promoting transparency and accountability with accessible governmental data. These projects reflect why we support the Knight-Batten Awards.”

“The top projects beautifully capture today’s digital landscape,” said American University’s Amy Eisman, another judge. “We were impressed with an underlying enthusiasm; we could sense pockets of participants saying ‘let’s just try it’—and then diving in.”

Advisory Board chairperson Jody Brannon observed, “It’s clear the news profession has a lot of smart people pushing in many ways—new interfaces, experiments with secondary devices, stretching the social sphere.”

Selecting the winners was an advisory board that included the Knight Foundation’s Jose Zamora; Jody Brannon, National Director of the Carnegie-Knight News21 Initiative; Jim Brady, General Manager, TBD.com; Bill Buzenberg, Executive Director, Center for Public Integrity; Amy Eisman, Director of Writing Programs and the Graduate Weekend Interactive Journalism Program, American University School of Communication; Gary Kebbel, Dean and Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College of Journalism and Mass Communications; Matt Thompson, Editorial Product Manager, NPR; Jose Antonio Vargas, Senior Contributing Editor, The Huffington Post; Amy Webb, CEO and Principal Consultant, webbmedia LLC; Kinsey Wilson, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Digital Media, NPR; and J-Lab’s Jan Schaffer.