Daily Camera wins Breaking News DFMie for flood coverage

Cover of the book produced by the Daily Camera and sister newsrooms about the 2013 floods.
Cover of the book produced by the Daily Camera and sister newsrooms about the 2013 floods.

The staff of the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colo., won the 2014 Breaking News DFMie for its coverage of September flooding.

The nomination explains:

The first full weekend of September 2013 along Colorado’s Front Range was remarkable only for what has become more commonplace in recent years – heat.

Instead, Monday marked the onset of a deluge – one the nation’s top weather experts completely missed – that increased in intensity midweek and continued in waves with little respite into the following week. It was an unprecedented and historic storm that shattered rainfall records and sparked repeated flash flooding, which led to sustained and widespread flooding that devastated communities and neighborhoods while completely isolating others.

The floodwaters ultimately destroyed 337 structures worth $41 million and claimed the lives of four in Boulder County.

It was both an exhilarating effort and an emotional, exhausting one.

After a relentless round of breaking coverage in liveblog, stories, photos, videos and social media, the Camera’s coverage included a narrative of the flood, a 56-page special print section and a 160-page photo documentary book, A Thousand-Year Rain.

Judges’ comments:

The (Boulder) Daily Camera is the overwhelming winner for its breaking-news coverage of the historic floods of last September. The dimensions of its coverage, both in depth and breadth, were breathtaking, and may set a new standard by which news organizations should measured when covering events of this gravity and import. Every article, photograph, video and Twitter post seemed to have as its reason for being the only thing that matters at times like this–informing the public: of the floods’ danger, about how they could escape it; and what they need to do to recover from it. The totality of paper’s coverage, particularly as it concerns visual journalism, seemed to be equal to the flood in volume and force; metaphorically, it seemed to fight the flood to a draw–an impressive feat.

This is one of two DFMies for the Daily Camera and one of six for Colorado newsrooms. The Denver Post’s flood coverage won the Breaking News DFMie for large newsrooms. The Post and Camera also swept the small- and large-newsroom DFMies for investigative or enterprise journalism.

Other breaking news finalists

The Camera’s sister newsroom, the Times-Call in Longmont, was a finalist for its coverage of the same flood. Matthew Jonas, Lewis Geyer, Greg Lindstrom of the Times-Call also were finalists in visual journalism for their flood photography.

The other small-newsroom finalist in breaking news was the Bennington Banner for staff coverage of a high school teacher’s mental health crisis that ended with him surrendering his semi-automatic rifle.

Steve Buttry

By Steve Buttry

Steve Buttry is Digital Transformation Editor for Digital First Media. He oversees our efforts to transform newsroom operations and culture to more effectively pursue our digital goals. His duties include responsibility for social media and community engagement. He has visited most DFM newsrooms personally, leading workshops and coaching editors and other journalists in following the Digital First approach.

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