DFMie winners dish advice for breaking news coverage and Tout

In the third of a four-part series on December’s DFMie winners, we take a closer look at the winning breaking news entries. The DFMie winners here include the Monterey Herald for its coverage of a fire in Big Sur and the Salt Lake Tribune for its coverage of a judge’s ruling overturning the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Alemendra Carpizo of the Chico Enterprise-Record won the Tout Bout award for her coverage of an armed robbery.

Monterey Herald wins for breaking news coverage of a fire in Big Sur

Photo galleries of the Big Sur fire were a key part of Herald coverage.

Photo galleries of the Big Sur fire were a key part of Herald coverage.

The Herald wins the Northern California DFMie for its staff coverage over several days of the Big Sur fire, including a live blog, photo slideshow and Touts.

Judges praised the coverage:

They did a wonderful job of not only writing about the events, but utilizing many digital tools in the process to help tell a breaking news story.

Another judge:

Excellent coverage of a hard to cover story in difficult terrain. I got a feeling of what is was like just from the photos and story.

Inside Thunderdome asked some key contributors to the Herald’s coverage to share some lessons from their experience. Reporter Phil Molnar:

Phil Molnar

Phil Molnar

When covering a large fire, have a mask and a fire jacket or shirt especially to protect your health. Also, the fire jacket will allow you to take media tours with firefighters; without it, emergency personnel are less likely to allow you to ride along. And always bring a cell phone charger for your car. Touts, in particular, take a lot of juice so expect to need it. I also learned to trust the editors and website folks. I was blown away by how well they did live blogs, updates and Twitter posts.

Photojournalist David Royal:

David Royal

David Royal

One thing I took away from covering the Big Sur fire is the importance of developing relationships with the people we were covering. The people who live full time in Big Sur are part of a small, tight-knit community that tends to be suspicious of outsiders and reporters. Developing relationships within that community, showing that we, the local paper, were there for the long haul, was a key in gaining access to areas and interviews.

Online Editor Lisa Mitchell:

Lisa Mitchell

Lisa Mitchell

Every member of the newsroom helped out in some way due to the extended timeline and scope of the story during our coverage of the fire, from the day it broke to following up a week later when residents could finally go home. Mobile tools and training allowed us to disseminate information quickly to the community via our live blog and dispel rumors and inaccurate reports in social media.

City editor Dave Kellogg:

One of the toughest decisions is figuring out how big a story is brewing and estimating the cost of dedicating resources to it. When in doubt, bet on it being a big story. Emphasize to reporters and photographers to tweet early and often. Think through possible logistic problems (lack of a cell signal for example) and plan for them (Phil and David found a spot where there was good connectivity, a spot they returned to with regularity to file and check in.)

Salt Lake Tribune wins for coverage of judge’s ruling overturning Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage

On the Friday before Christmas, U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that Utah’s Amendment 3, defining marriage as a union exclusively between a man and a woman, violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Tribune staffers won the Metro DFMie with stellar coverage of the ruling, same-sex couples getting married, county officials refusing to issue marriage licenses, a Q&A, photo galleryeditorial saying Utah should stand with the nation and accept gay marriage and a Trib Talk discussion of the issue.

Judges’ comments about the Tribune’s coverage:

The initial story has really become a centerpiece for the entire topic — especially with the new links that continue to be added in the related sidebar. The nearly 5,000 comments there show that this is an important story and opened a dialogue among the readers, which is really an important role for a news organization. I also loved how the journalists covered multiple angles of the day, from the text of the judge’s ruling to the personal stories and photos, while also allowing readers to share their thoughts in a public forum. The Q&A was a nice, quick way to explain what had happened and what could happen next, and the Trib Talk was a perfect way to bring in the opinions of different experts (not to mention a strong use of a Google Hangout).

Another judge:

The Salt Lake Tribune wins for AWESOME writing — and on deadline, no less.

“Near the end of a long line, Vanessa Vanderburg and Katie Turner wait outside the Salt Lake County clerk’s office with their arms wrapped around each other. Every time they are jostled by a camera crew, by a politician, by another couple — by the general chaos that is their wedding day — they jostle in unison.

“As Friday’s ruling against Utah’s gay marriage ban raises loud questions about civil rights, state’s rights and family values, Vanessa and Katie quietly embrace. They aren’t here to make a statement. They’re here to make a promise.”

This is amazing writing. The two stories in the package adroitly weave heart-tugging anecdotes with key facts, and the outstanding photos lend the final touch. The editorial is factual, clear and realistic. Bravo!

Almendra Caprizo wins Tout Bout for this armed robbery video

Almendra Caprizo used Lumify to edit this video about an armed robbery, winning the ToutBout award for best video imported into the Tout app:

A judge’s praise for the video:

Almendra’s narration and b-roll work very well to tell this breaking news story. Nice use of the security camera footage as b-roll. A good ender with a refer to the homepage.

Almendra Caprizo

Almendra Caprizo

Caprizo’s advice:

Tout has taught me to be resourceful and to find new ways to tell a story. While Tout can be basic, if you dedicate time and effort you can develop more in-depth videos.

Chris March

By Chris March

Chris March is the community engagement manager for Digital First Media and the editor of Inside Thunderdome. Contact him by email at cmarch@digitalfirstmedia.com or follow his shenanigans on Twitter: @marchmcfly.

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