Three clusters where multiple newsrooms collaborate on news coverage had similar DFMie showings: five for the Los Angeles News Group, four for the Bay Area News Group and four for the Connecticut newsrooms.
In all, 36 journalists won DFMies in judging conducted March 7-8 in New York by a panel of journalists and journalism professors from outside the company. Four newsrooms won a total of six staff awards. The awards will be presented to the winners at an April 23 program at the St. Paul Hotel in St. Paul, Minn.
Winners receive $1,000 each (split if up to four journalists were nominated). For staff winners (five or more people contributing), the $1,000 prize goes towards a staff party or a community donation.
Journalists of the Year
Five journalists were chosen as Journalists of the Year in different divisions of DFM:
- Metro Division: Robert Gehrke and Tom Harvey of the Salt Lake Tribune share the Journalist of the Year honor for metro newsrooms for their yearlong reporting on a scandal that eventually forced the resignation of Utah Attorney General John Swallow.
- Mid-Sized Division: Jason Plotkin of the York Daily Record was chosen as Journalist of the Year for mid-sized newsrooms for a portfolio of photos and videos. He was also a finalist in the long-video category and was a finalist along with Brandie Kessler for feature/lifestyle/entertainment journalism.
- Small Division: Jessica Glenza won Journalist of the Year for small newsrooms for her reporting for the Register Citizen on allegations that two Torrington High School football players had raped 13-year-old girls and that other students had bullied the girls in victim-blaming tweets. Glenza has moved to DFM’s Thunderdome newsroom in New York. Glenza’s reporting was also a significant part of the Register Citizen’s staff Public Service DFMie for its reporting and commentary on the rape/bullying case.
- Non-Daily Division: Harry Saltzgaver, editor of the weekly Gazette newspapers in California, won Journalist of the Year for non-daily newsrooms for his leadership of his small staff in the face of the Long Beach “newspaper war.”
The four journalists of the year entered into a second round of judging for DFM Journalist of the Year. The winner of that award will be disclosed at the program in April.
Breaking News, Visual and Special Contribution
Visual Journalism: Ben Garvin of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, which will host the awards program, won the Visual Journalism DFMie for a photo gallery of faces as runners crossed the finish line of the Twin Cities Marathon.
Breaking News: Coverage of September’s Colorado flooding won both Breaking News DFMies, with the staff of the Denver Post winning among large newsrooms and the Daily Camera in Boulder winning for small newsrooms. In addition, the Times-Call in Longmont was a double finalist – in breaking news and visual journalism – for its flood coverage.
Live Coverage and Special Contribution: The Live Coverage DFMie also went to a staff breaking news effort, the New Haven Register’s coverage of a plane crashing into homes in East Haven, Conn. That was one of two Register DFMies: Shahid Abdul-Karim won the Special Contribution DFMie for his news coverage of the community’s response to violence in New Haven and for leading a community conversation on the issue, including a public roundtable with community leaders and family members of murder victims.
In addition to the DFMies for breaking news and Journalist of the Year, competition in investigative or enterprise journalism and sports journalism were divided by newsroom size.
The Denver Post and Daily Camera also took the Investigative/Enterprise Journalism DFMies.
Large newsroom: The Post won for “Stepping Toward Hope,” a project on spinal-cord injuries that included stories by Michael Booth, photos by Craig F. Walker and RJ Sangosti, video by AAron Ontiveroz and graphics by Severiano Galvan.
Small newsroom: Charlie Brennan of the Camera won the small-newsroom award for digging up the story that a grand jury in 1999 had voted to indict the parents of JonBenet Ramsey in the 6-year-old girl’s 1998 death, but the district attorney had refused to prosecute. The small-newsroom investigative/enterprise category was the largest in the competition with 25 entries.
Large newsroom: The York Daily Record was the large newsroom winner of the Sports Journalism DFMie for daylong coverage of the Penn State-Nebraska football game by Frank Bodani, Chris Dunn, Brad Jennings and Jim Seip.
The rest of the categories
Small newsrooms also won awards in open competition against entries from all DFM newsrooms.
- Opinion Journalism: Rick Mills, editor of the Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., won the Opinion Journalism DMFie for his commentary on a local court’s refusal to follow its own rules for releasing court records.
- Feature/Lifestyle/Entertainment: Michael Alan Goldberg of The Reporter in Lansdale, Pa., won the Feature/Lifestyle/Entertainment Journalism DFMie for a series on domestic violence.
- Staff Blogger: Evan Brandt of The Mercury won the Staff Blogger DFMie for Digital Notebook.
- Use of Social Media: Frank Otto and Steve Moore of The Mercury won the Use of Social Media DFMie for their late-night curation of social media about the shootout that resulted in the death of one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.
- Public Service: The Register Citizen in Torrington, Conn., won the Public Service DFMie for its reporting and commentary on a rape case that included bullying of the 13-year-old victims in social media.
The Denver Post’s DFMies all resulted from teamwork.
- Specialized News Coverage: In addition to the staff DFMies for breaking news and investigative/enterprise, the Post staff won the Specialized News Coverage DFMie for its coverage of the legalization of marijuana.
- Long Form Video: Four Post journalists – Meghan Lyden, Mahala Gaylord, AAron Ontiveroz and Helen H. Richardson – shared the Long Video DFMie for their 30-minute documentary about fighting wildfires, “The Fire Line.”
In addition to the DFMies won by Plotkin and the sports team, the York Daily Record won two more DFMies:
- Innovator of the Year: Dan Herman was named Innovator of the Year for his contributions to several digital efforts. Herman also was a finalist for the Design DFMie for his design of a project on diabetes.
- Interactive Journalism: Samantha Dellinger and Brad Jennings won the Interactive Journalism DFMie for their design of the Gettysburg 150 iPad app. Jennings, who also shared in the Sports DFMie, was the only 2014 double winner (other than the DFM Journalist of the Year, who hasn’t been named yet). Dellinger, last year’s winner of the Print Front Page DFMie, is one of two repeat winners from 2013.
The York staff also had finalists in seven categories, the best showing by any single newsroom.
Saltzgaver’s Journalist of the Year (non-daily) DFMie is one of five won by the Los Angeles News Group. Other winners:
- Community Engagement: Jessica Keating of the San Bernardino Sun, who last year shared the Live Coverage DFMie, won the Community Engagement Project DFMie for “Beyond Bankruptcy,” a series of editorials and community meetings aimed at addressing the financial and political problems of the City of San Bernardino.
- Mid-Level Editor of the Year: Melissa Evans, city editor of the Long Beach Press-Telegram, was named Mid-Level Editor of the Year for her leadership of the P-T staff’s response to the Orange County Register’s launch of its Long Beach edition.
- Short Video: Fred Robledo of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune won the Short Video DFMie for his Tout capturing a buzzer-beating basketball shot.
- SPECIAL AWARD – Watchdog Journalism: Jim Steinberg, Rachel Luna and Paul Penzella won a Special DFMie for Watchdog Journalism for their project examining the continuing contamination of drinking water in Hinkley, Calif., the town made famous in the movie “Erin Brockovich.” The San Bernardino Sun project didn’t actually win any categories for which it was nominated. But it was a finalist in the large-newsroom investigative/enterprise category as well as for public service and specialized news coverage. Judges recommended that the Hinkley project should win a special DFMie and DFM Editor-in-Chief Jim Brady agreed with their recommendation. Penzella was also a finalist in the design category for design of sports apps.
The Bay Area News Group won four DFMies:
- Data Journalism: Thomas Peele and Daniel Willis won the Data Journalism DFMie for their analysis of public-employee salaries.
- Design: Paiching Wei and Daymond Gascon won the Design DFMie for “How Tech Redefines Us.”
- Print Front Page Design: Chris Gotsill won the Print Front Page DFMie for his cover depicting teen-agers’ conflicting attitudes about rape.
- Community Blogger: Adam Lauridsen, author of the “Fast Break” blog about the Golden State Warriors, won the Community Blogger DFMie. He will receive a plaque but not a cash award.
Digital First Media’s Thunderdome newsroom won a DFMie as well.
- SEO Headline Writing: Karen Workman of Thunderdome won the 2014 SEO Headline Writing DFMie.
The winning entries are detailed in separate posts at the links above. The finalists in each category are listed in those posts.
The judging process
The 2014 DFMies attracted more than 370 entries. In the biggest categories, journalism professors from around the country narrowed the field to about 10 semi-finalists for consideration in judging at Thunderdome March 7-8. The New York judges chose the finalists and winners.
The 2014 DFMie judges were Anika Anand, C.W. Anderson, Sue Burzynski Bullard, LaSharah Bunting, Curt Chandler, Andrew Chavez, Paul Cheung, Kim Fox, John Hatcher, Tom Kent, Steve Klein, Alex Leo, Norm Lewis, Mindy McAdams, Merrill Perlman, Aron Pilhofer, Barbara Raab, Mike Reilley, Bob Sacha, Andrew Salomon, Gabriella Stern, Margaret Sullivan, Kathleen Woodruff Wickham and Mark Witherspoon.