Dan Herman wins Innovator of the Year DFMie

Dan Herman
Dan Herman

Dan Herman of the York Daily Record won the 2014 Innovator of the Year DFMie. 

His editors’ nomination explains:

Our newsroom has been blessed to have a journalist with Dan’s brilliance and skill, and whose innovations are of such high quantity and quality.

When others encounter a roadblock, Dan has already found a way around it. And then he’ll show us why we probably shouldn’t have headed down that road in the first place.

Dan despises inefficiency. He is driven to root out wasteful workflows and to create improved systems and processes. He has our future in mind. He pushes for success on mobile, apps and web, while streamlining the necessary print work.

A few of his accomplishments this year:

  • Virtual Harris: Prior to our recent Saxotech CMS installation, we used a Harris CMS that required ancient computers with an OS no newer than Windows 2000. Dan discovered a way to run that old Harris system in a virtual environment on new laptops (which allowed users to browse the web, check email and design pages on the same computer!)
  • YDR Tools: Dan created a website to allow staff to easily accomplish a variety of tasks. Among the things users can do: Generate HTML embed codes for videos and photo galleries, and create Facebook widgets to share content. Its greatest feature: users can quickly enter local deed-transfer data into a database for web publishing, and then extract it as a ready-for-print file that shoots directly into Saxotech.
  • Election results: Dan created a live-results homepage widget to instantly publish Election Day headlines and numbers, nearly in real-time, bypassing our slower web CMS that couldn’t update as quickly as we wanted. He also created a batch process to immediately tweet out results simultaneously across multiple Twitter accounts in our cluster.
  • Diabetes project: At a time when our publishing platforms struggle to display multimedia content across all digital platforms — web, smartphone and tablet — Dan used HTML5 coding to create a responsive design for one of our biggest community service efforts. The project, with its many layers and multimedia elements, presents appropriately on any size screen or device,
  • Gettysburg 150th: Dan built a specialty website to house and promote myriad clusterwide content for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, our largest coverage effort of the year.
  • eBooks: Proposed, prepared and published a trio of eBooks related to the Gettysburg anniversary. One gave new life to a previously published paperback, while the others compiled the best of our wealth of coverage of the anniversary.
  • GameTimePA football app: Bypassing limitations in the Adobe DPS (app-building) program, Dan built this iPad preview app from scratch. Featuring in-depth previews, stats, photos, videos and more for each of 55 area high schools, the app really had it all for thousands of football fans. It earned an EPPY honorable mention.

Dan accomplished all of these things while serving as a major architect of (and a manager in) York’s new page design center, only working on these innovations in his spare moments. This work earned him a new position in January: Innovation Editor.

Judges’ comments:

Dan Herman of the York Daily Record wins the DFMie Innovator of the Year for his diverse portfolio of work. Dan is the tech jack of all trades. Dan builds widgets to deliver news faster during the election. Dan builds web tools to allow easy embeds of multimedia assets. Dan builds interactive content that is adaptable from web to tablets to mobile phones. Most importantly, Dan provides digital solutions for his newsroom so that they can focus on how to tell better stories across all platforms.

About Dan Herman

Before becoming the York Daily Record’s innovation editor, Herman served as an assistant editor at the York regional design center and as the Presentation Editor at the Farmington Daily Times. He grew up in Washington and studied history at Washington State University.

He’s been obsessed with computers since he had a Tandy 3000 in his room, and is still a tiny bit broken up about the demise of the <blink> tag. He credits all of the inspiration to his colleagues and their amazing talents, because without them he said he’d be “the journalistic equivalent of a guy building elaborate Lego cityscapes in his basement — fine-looking artifice and architecture, but with no beating heart to give it life.”

In addition to winning the Innovator DFMie, Herman was a finalist in the design competition for the diabetes project. His DFMie is one of four won by the York Daily Record and one of seven won by newsrooms in Pennsylvania.

Other innovator finalists

Other finalists for the Innovator of the Year DFMie were:

  • Tom Meagher of Thunderdome for many contributions, including the Denver crime map and Bracket Advisor.
  • John Brewer of the St. Paul Pioneer Press for a wide range of experiments, including a GoPro camera and a video drone.

The 2013 Innovator of the Year was Martin G. Reynolds.

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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