By Rob Tricchinelli
MoJos, microsites, crowdsourcing and Team Watchdog.
The buzzwords flew, the editors voted, and The Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press won APME's first Innovator of the Year award for its "culture of innovation."
The newspaper tried to establish a "culture of innovation," said Cindy McCurry-Ross, senior managing editor, by making significant changes, such as using MoJos - mobile journalists who carry cameras, digital audio recorders and laptops to find stories on the road - and microsites, a variety of news sources that report at what the newspaper called a "hyper-local" or neighborhood level.
The newspaper also involves members of its community to help gather and shape the news, a process called "crowdsourcing." It has a small band of citizen journalists, called "Team Watchdog," who had expertise in different areas. Many team members are retired, McCurry-Ross said.
"Team Watchdog" was originally called "News-Press Nine," she said, but there were "so many applicants" that the group grew to 20 members and had to find a new name.
The other finalists were The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle.
The Journal-Constitution was nominated for its newsroom overhaul to accommodate the demands of online journalism. The newsroom split into four sections: news/information, enterprise, print and digital. The first two are responsible for content generation, and the second two take care of the finished product.
The online mantra of the Journal-Constitution has become "serve it while it's hot," said Hank Klibanoff, managing editor for enterprise.
"RocDocs," a product of the <i>Democrat and Chronicle</i>, gives online users access to data, maps and investigative reports assembled by the newspaper. Viewers can find a range of information, including Google maps of Rochester-area wineries and toxic dumpsites, and real estate transactions.
Although RocDocs was the hot word from the Democrat and Chronicle, Atlanta's newspaper billed its reorganization as a split into "pitchers and catchers" of news, and The News-Press has news being handled by "collectors and connectors."
Forty-five nominees for the award, from 40 newspapers, were pared to three by a group of former APME board members.
Current members voted for the winner Friday.