The announcement of the winners of the August DFMies will start at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Please join us for the announcement and a live chat with the winners.
Thank you for joining us for today’s liveblog announcement of the winners of the August DFMies for excellence by Digital First Media journalists. I’ll announce all the winners first, then we’ll elaborate on each of the awards and visit with the winners.
We have three individual winners: Sarah Reingewirtz of the Los Angeles News Group, for the powerful black-and-white photography of “Dorothy’s Journey”; Gary Klien of the Marin Independent Journal for his analysis of local crime data, and Megan Quinn of the Broomfield Enterprise for reporting on abuse in a nursing home.
Two of the winners were reporter/photographer teams: Lisa Vorderbrueggen and Karl Mondon of the Bay Area News Group for their coverage of the closing of the Bay Bridge and Teresa Boeckel and Jason Plotkin of the York Daily Record for their story on the survivors of a 2001 machete attack.
The other three winners were for team projects: The New Haven Register covering a plane crash; Monica Drake, John Turk and Lara Mossa of the Oakland Press for their coverage of worker walkout day; and Alex Hinojosa, Andrew Kreighbaum and Bob Moore of the El Paso Times for their continued reporting and editorials about the El Paso schools cheating controversy.
The judges for August were the July winners: John Autey, Aaron Bracamontes, Dave Burge, Aric Crabb, Robert Gehrke, John Green, Richard Halstead, Tom Harvey, Brandie Kessler, Rachel Luna, Bob Moore, Jason Plotkin, C.J. Sinner, Dick Spotswood, Jim Steinberg and Jennifer Swift. We should note that Bob Moore and Jason Plotkin were winners in both July and August, but they did not judge their own clusters for August.
Other August finalists were Patrick Tehan and Tracey Kaplan of the Bay Area News Group; Katie Lannan of the Lowell Sun and the staff of the Brattleboro Reformer in the Northeast; Matthew Skrajner & Cheryl Sadler of the Willoughby News-Herald and the staff of the Lorain Morning Journal in the Midwest; Jackie Schear of the Trentonian and Rob Parent, Terry Tooney and Jack McCaffery of the Delaware County Times in the Pennsylvania/New Jersey/West Virginia cluster; Anthony L. Solis of the Santa Cruz Sentinel and the staff of the Vacaville Reporter in Northern California; Carie Canterbury of the Cañon City Daily Record and Kirk Mitchell of the Denver Post in the Colorado/Utah cluster; Diana Alba Soular of the Las Cruces Sun-News and the staff of the Farmington Daily Times in Texas/New Mexico.
Now we'll go into detail on each of the winners and discuss the outstanding journalism that won this recognition for them.
The New Haven Register newsroom’s coverage of a plane crashing into two homes in East Haven, Conn., made excellent use of digital tools such as Touts, liveblogging and photo galleries.
Here’s what a judge said: “When events like this happen, there are so many questions the public has and it looks like the Register did everything to answer those questions in a timely fashion. The live blog, control tower audio and timeline gave great minute-by-minute information. And the final story put together the details with great writing that made me feel the emotion of the horrifying events.”
Joining us today from the Register are Helen Bennett and Charlotte Adinolfi. Can you share your video with us and tell us a little more about your coverage of the plane crash?
Covering the plane crash was a sensitive and tough task given that there were two children in the house the plane crashed into and another young adult in the airplane along with his father. There were many emotions that day not only from the family but the neighbors. Being one of the first reporters on the scene along with the East Haven reporter Evan Lips, using Tout was incredibly helpful to convey the scene. It allowed us to get information across quickly and showed people the intensity of the situation.
Here's a Tout's a new tool in our breaking-news toolkit. Why did you use it so heavily in covering the plane crash and what did you learn from the experience?
While Charlotte and Helen are working on their answers to that question, I’ll share this answer from Managing Editor Mark Brackenbury, who couldn’t join the liveblog but emailed his answer:
Tout was made for situations like this. It's an easy, virtually instantaneous way to get breaking news out, so it just seemed a no-brainer here. Breaking news reporter Charlotte Adinolfi arrived very quickly, followed by Mary O'Leary and Evan Lips, and all used Tout to put viewers at the scene -- without having to jump through any hoops.
Helen and the breaking news team set up a live blog, so the Touts went directly there (and many also were tweeted) in an easy format for our site users.
One cool thing we stumbled upon: We had audio of the communications between the pilot and the tower just before the crash, but no ideal way to edit a long tape down and post it in a compelling format -- until we thought of using Tout. We shot a video of a still photo from the crash site and recorded the audio in a Tout. We've used a similar technique on a few other stories since then.
Here's the Tout Mark mentioned:
Helen and Charlotte, go ahead and answer if you have more to say, but I'll move on to the next winners.
In the Midwest cluster, the winners are Monica Drake, John Turk and Lara Mossa of the Oakland Press for their coverage of worker walkout day, when workers walked off their jobs at primarily fast-food restaurants. The reporters went to different parts of the Detroit area to talk to workers and report on the event in text, photos and Touts.
I was still learning Tout when the plane crash happened but I was able to quickly understand why it was so useful. I taped a good deal of footage and other reporters were able to capture the reactions of neighbors and town officials via Tout to share with our readers. This allowed the true emotion to come through since people could see the faces and hear the sounds of the situation. I learned that showing the raw emotion gives a more full picture to the reader.
Some of those Oakland Press Touts:
Judge’s comment on the Oakland Press winner: “The use of social media was great, and allowed readers to know what was happening as it was happening. I appreciated that the reporters included coverage regardless of whether there was a crowd, instead of only including coverage where crowds had gathered. The worker walkout story was a big one, and I am sure the immediate coverage via social media pulled in a lot of readers.”
Our winners are with us on the liveblog. Monica, John and Lara, please share your video and tell us more about this story.
Our story was a full day's worth of combining three different angles of the Aug. 29 fast food worker walkouts — a 60-city demonstration of workers who lobbied for a $15 an hour pay increase. I reported from a protest in front of Church's Chicken on East Jefferson in Detroit, where hundreds of workers from around metro Detroit gathered. There, I received the perspective of employees who can barely provide for their families with their minimum wage jobs. I also met with Troy native Mary Kay Henry, president of Service Employees International Union in Washington D.C., who talked about what was happening nationally.
My follow-up question to you is much like my question to the New Haven team: Tout hasn't been part of our story planning for long. Why did you decide to make it such a big part of your approach to this story, and what did you learn about Tout in doing the story?
The Oakland Press team is welcome to continue their answers, but I'll move to the next winner: Sarah Reingewirtz spent more than a year working on "Dorothy's Journey," which chronicled the story of Dorothy Edwards, a homeless woman who was identified as being most at risk of death in the Pasadena area.
Tout became ultra useful, not only by being a storytelling tool, but by being a writing tool, also. I was able to get quotes from some of my Touts, which was helpful because I was out talking to people and couldn't write and capture video at the same time at certain points. I found that preparation time to do a Tout in minimal, and sometimes now I abandon my notebook for several Touts I can look at later. I believe the best type of Tout is a talking head. It doesn't always work out perfectly, but if you can get a nugget of what you're working on to an audience quickly, without being in front of a computer, they'll be more engaged in your story when you actually write it. It also helped us see what each other was doing, and helped engage the readers.
Sarah gave readers and viewers an intimate look at Dorothy's life on the edge of society and her quest for human dignity. As Executive Editor Michael Anastasi said in his nomination, “Sarah followed Dorothy on the streets, to a permanent home and, finally, to a new smile.”
A judge’s comment about Sarah’s work: “Reingewirtz's photographs are beautifully composed and help to restore dignity to one of the countless Americans who are suffering due to the social injustice rampant in our society today. Her decision to shoot in black and white gave the photos a classic look that reminded me of the work of Dorothea Lange.”
Sarah, can you share your video about this project and tell us a little more about it?
I'll embed that video so it will play in the liveblog.