The Daily Citizen of Beaver Dam, WI, has been judged as the winner of APME's Community Journalism Public Service Initiative competition.
The Daily Citizen won the initiative for its proposed project on the impact of mental health care in a rural community. The newspaper will do a three-part series with an online and social media interaction.
In winning the first-ever competition, The Daily Citizen will receive a $1,000 grant to help it complete the project. A representative of the newspaper will also present its progress at the Associated Press Media Editors’ 2012 Conference Sept. 19-21 in Nashville.
"Congratulations to The Daily Citizen, judged the best of several strong applicants in our first APME contest to help smaller news outlets complete a project or initiative that might be outside its budget,” said APME President Bob Heisse, executive editor of The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill. "Our APME Foundation made this possible, and we look forward to hearing about the findings.”
APME’s Innovator/Great Ideas Committee served as judges for the grant. Newspapers and TV stations from 10 different states submitted applications in the competition. Joe Hight, who co-chairs the committee with David Arkin, said all of the projects were outstanding and worthy of consideration. The Daily Citizen’s choice of topic was among the reasons that it was chosen.
"The Daily Citizen is willing to tackle a difficult issue in mental illness that faces small and large cities and use multimedia and social media to do it in a meaningful way,” said Hight, director of information and development for The Oklahoman/NewsOK.com. "This is the way issues should be approached by all media. The Daily Citizen's approach toward and willingness to handle this difficult topic separates it from the rest.”
Daily Citizen Editor Aaron Holbrook submitted the proposal that was written by Megan Sheridan, a staff writer and photographer for the newspaper.
In selecting the overall winner, the committee actually went through two rounds of judging. The first was to select the finalists and the second was to select the overall winner.
Besides The Daily Citizen, the three other finalists were:
• Victoria, Texas, Advocate, for its project on educating the economically disadvantaged.
• The Republic of Columbus, Ind., for its project on low high-school graduation rates.
• The Observer-Reporter of Washington, PA, for its ongoing series exploring the history of its community.
KJCT-TV of Grand Junction/Montrose, CO, also received votes for its project on texting.
"The quality of these projects shows how smaller media care about their communities and have a true impact on the lives of the people who live there,” said Arkin, vice president of content & audience for GateHouse Media Inc. "We’re excited about this initiative and hope these examples spur community service among the media in this country.”
Besides Hight and Arkin, other APME Innovator/Great Ideas Committee members are Kathy Best, managing editor of the Seattle Times; Bill Church, executive editor of the Salem, Ore., Statesman Journal Media; Kurt Franck, executive editor of The Blade of Toledo, Ohio; and Gary Graham, editor of The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, WA.