Savannah's "Vision 2010" Wins Batten Award
Civic Legacy and Innovations Cited

Washington, DC, March 21, 2002 -- The Savannah Morning News won the 2002 Batten Awards for Excellence in Civic Journalism, a $10,000 honor for a robust, community-driven project that targeted failing schools and triggered the creation of a civic group to raise venture capital for education innovations.

The runner-up was The Cincinnati Enquirer, awarded $5,000 for wide-ranging initiatives that involved more than 2,000 people in community conversations about race relations since last April's riots.

Both the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Wisconsin State Journal with WISC-TV were honored with $5,000 prizes for creative and enduring work that, over the past decade, built momentum in their communities and created fresh models of journalism that other newsrooms have replicated.

And for the first time this year, the Batten Advisory Board awarded three Innovator Awards for Web efforts that foreshadow the future of interactive news - GothamGazette.com's election project, 360degrees.org's criminal justice reports, and the Everett (WA) Herald's clickable map on riverfront development.

"This year's winners show that civic journalism can be cool and compelling," said Jan Schaffer, director of the Pew Center for Civic Journalism, which sponsors the awards. "The winners engaged people in learning, in building relationships, in making a difference and in having fun." The winners will be honored April 22 at the eighth annual James K. Batten Awards and Symposium.

This year's program, "Civic Journalism: Celebrating the Past, Focusing on the Future," will be presented by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

THE WINNER:

  • Savannah's "Vision 2010" project engaged a large citizen task force in forums, small discussions and visits to 15 U.S. schools to figure out how to improve local education by the year 2010. Morning News reports on their journey of discovery and their "no-excuses" solutions has built volunteer support, efforts to start model programs, and the launch of a community foundation to raise education funds. http://savannahnow.com/features/vision2010/

THE RUNNER-UP:

  • The Cincinnati Enquirer, working with nearly all the city's media outlets, spearheaded two efforts, "Divided by Race," and "Neighbor to Neighbor," which used polls, roundtables and community conversations that have involved more than 2,000 people in conversations in their own neighborhoods. http://cincinnati.com/neighbors/

LEGACY EFFORTS:

  • The Wisconsin State Journal and partner WISC-TV, the CBS affiliate, won for "Schools of Hope," a five-year initiative that used investigative reporting, polls, town halls, brainstorming sessions and the creation of a local leadership group to mobilize 800 school tutors and other efforts that have helped close the achievement gap between minority and white students. The partners are part of the long-running "We the People Wisconsin" civic journalism collaborative. www.wisconsinstatejournal.com/

  • The St. Paul Pioneer Press was applauded for a series of projects - "Safer Cities," "Across Generations," "Poverty Among Us," and the "New Face of Minnesota" - that created many fresh entry points for citizens to take action. The resulting book clubs, discussion guides, forums, chat rooms and multi-lingual polls engaged thousands of Minnesotans. www.twincities.com/mld/pioneerpress/

INNOVATOR AWARDS:

  • GothamGazette.com's "Searchlight on Campaign 2001" created a superbly navigable Web site that informed New York City voters about 400 candidates running in 70 races, the largest turnover in city history. "It did everything I ever wanted to do in an election," said one of the editors on the judging panel. www.gothamgazette.com/

  • Picture Projects' "360degrees.org-Perspectives on the US Criminal Justice System" pioneered a new digital storytelling model that uses dynamic data, panoramic photos and interactive audio of key stakeholders in nonlinear story telling - "a journalistic pentimento," said the judges. www.360degrees.org/

  • The Herald of Everett, WA, built an online clickable map that wooed more than 1,200 people to register their choices for redeveloping the city's riverfront. The "Waterfront Renaissance" map "could be used in any news coverage," the judges said. http://waterfront.heraldnet.com/develop2.cfm

To attend this year's Batten Awards and Symposium in Chapel Hill, check the agenda or e-mail news@pccj.org.

This year's winners were selected from 87 entries. The Batten Awards honor the late James K. Batten, former chief executive of the Knight Ridder newspaper chain, who led some of the earliest civic journalism thinking. The awards are funded by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, based in Philadelphia.

Semifinalists included: "Under One Roof," a weekly feature about black family issues on BET.com and Black Entertainment Television's (BET) nightly news show; the Lincoln Journal Star's "Medical Ethics," examining such cutting-edge topics as fetal tissue research; "The Color of Justice," Minnesota Public Radio's series on racial disparities in the criminal justice system; The News & Observer's "The New Segregation," exploring the re-segregation of public schools; "The Big Deal: Illegal Drugs in the Rochester Region," a Democrat and Chronicle series on the impact of the war on drugs; "Workforce Housing: Hometown Crisis," the Marin Independent Journal's examination of the local affordable housing crisis; the Jackson Citizen Patriot's "Confronting Racism," a look at how race impacts community life; and "Rethinking Philadelphia Schools," a multi-media project of the Philadelphia Daily News, Fox Philadelphia, WHYY-FM and WDAS-AM.

Also: "Build Your Perfect School," a school reform series by The Arizona Republic and KPNX TV; "Rural Idaho: Challenged to Change," a statewide media collaboration focused on the plight of rural residents; "Noble Desire," coverage by two Norfolk stations, WHRO-TV (PBS) and WVBT-TV (Fox), of race-relations conversations sparked by a reconciliation effort in West Africa; "Home Front," a KQED-TV (PBS) documentary on gentrification in the San Francisco area; "Finding Our Way: Living with Dying in America," a 15-part weekly series distributed by Knight Ridder News Service; and "Defining Moments," the Chronicle-Tribune's solutions-oriented follow-up to last year's Batten Award-winning series on the civic decline in Marion, IN.

Semifinalists for bodies of work included Pacific News Service for its multi-media initiatives to give voice to youth and ethnic communities, and the Akron Beacon Journal for targeted public-involvement initiatives dating back to 1993's Pulitzer Prize winning series on race, "A Question of Color."

FOLLOWING ARE THE 2002 JAMES K. BATTEN AWARD CITATIONS

To the Savannah Morning News:
"For 'Vision 2010' - a phenomenal, solution-oriented endeavor that is the epitome of what journalism is supposed to be: It put something in place, the community ran with it, and the news organization got out of the way. It demonstrated the importance of getting citizens involved. Their collective wisdom made for a very robust project that, if replicated in every community in the country, could change the outlook of everything it touches."

To The Cincinnati Enquirer
and the Cincinnati Media Collaborative:

"For 'Divided by Race' and 'Neighbor to Neighbor,' ambitious reporting and outreach efforts that have involved an astonishing number of voices in creating the conversations that should have been happening, but weren't."

To the Wisconsin State Journal and WISC-TV:
"For 'Schools of Hope,' an inspiring project of unusual intensity and duration that demonstrated how engaging citizens in issues that defy easy solutions can produce measurable results and community ownership of a problem. It is one of the few times a community has narrowed the race gap in academic achievement and helped all kids succeed. That's why we do journalism."

To the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
"For a rich and creative body of work that replicated successful models and kept improving on them. 'Safer Cities,' 'Across Generations,' 'Poverty Among Us,' and the 'New Face of Minnesota' kept reinventing citizen entry points and helped move civic journalism from the realm of controversy to the domain of journalistic instinct."



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