Robert Mills wins DFMie as top staff blogger

Robert Mills
Headline: Police Line Blog
Outlet: Lowell Sun
Journalist: Robert Mills
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Robert Mills of the Lowell Sun wins the DFMie as the best staff blogger of Digital First Media.

His editor’s nomination explains:

Rob Mills, The Sun’s night police reporter, gets it. His Police Line blog is not a dumping ground for breaking news. Mills adds photos, edits and embeds his own video, and provides added detail and context to his work. He also engages his followers in the behind-the-scenes ethical questions that he encounters. Our readers have responded; his blog is the most read on lowellsun.com by a factor of four or five. He is a worthy candidate for this award.

The DFMie judges agreed:

Our pick is Police Line, from the Lowell Sun. It’s good, passionate and tireless work from the perspective of a veteran reporter who conveys his journalistic and human values, as well as his love for the community he covers. The blog is rich with an unusual level of detail and photos that put the reader right at the scene. One notable recent post even included a well-written account of an accident sent in by a 13-year-old resident who responded to the scene along with police, fire and ambulance. Talk about user-generated content. We also appreciated the spurs for community action at the end of each post. Police Line is worth a regular visit even if you don’t live in the Lowell, Mass., area.

Other finalists for staff blogger were:

Mills has been at The Sun since Sept. 9, 2002. He has worked for MediaNews Group since Jan. 24, 2000, first at the Lebanon Daily News, and then at the Fitchburg Sentinel. He attended Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., as a journalism major, but left a semester early to go to work in Lebanon.

He has a 10-month-old daughter Charlotte Mills and lives in Lowell with his girlfriend Giovanna Aviles. “I’m a stay-at-home dad by day, and then a crime reporter at night. I love the night shift (4 to midnight) because it means I’m home with my daughter each day.”

“Sad as it usually is, I love reporting on crime and spot news,” Mills said. “I think we need to confront our readers with the sad reality that occurs most days in our cities, and I think graphic reporting on the violence and tragedy that is part of this beat is the best way to help our society understand and deal with the issues. … I think I’m privileged to tell the stories of people and incidents that many people would like to ignore.”

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