Canadian paper wins ‘Innovator’; Springfield photo project garners monthly ‘Great Ideas'
Friday, May 25, 2012
Posted by: Jack Lail
The Winnipeg Free Press is the first
newspaper from Canada
to win the Associated Press Media Editors’ Innovator of the Month.
APME also awarded its Great Idea of
the Month to the photo editor of the State-Journal Register in Springfield,
Free Press created a monthly special section called "Our City, Our World” to
highlight its different ethic communities in Manitoba, which is in central
Canada. Judges were impressed with the quality and depth of the innovative
"The Winnipeg project is impressively ambitious,” said
judge Gary Graham, editor of The Spokesman-Review. "The variety of topics gave
readers a comprehensive view of how their community has changed and why it has
As for the Great Idea of the Month,
Rich Saal won it for a two-year project in which he digitized glass
plate negatives taken between 1929 and 1935 and then created an exhibit for his
community library. The State-Journal Register also created a website for the
Judge Bill Church, executive editor of Statesman Journal Media in Salem, Ore., said he thought the project was
"The State Journal-Register found
an innovative and unique way to build on its asset — historical knowledge —
while reaching out to the community across platforms,” Church said. "Rich
Saal’s dedication and passion for the project led to a public exhibit.”
Judges also gave strong
consideration to the Columbia Missourian for its development of a Community
"This was a very, very tough
choice,” said judge Kathy Best, managing editor of the Seattle Times. "All of
the submissions were innovative, and all were great ideas. I wish they weren’t
competing against each other!”
The monthly "Innovator of the
Month” and "Great Idea of the Month” are a project of the Innovator/Great Ideas
Committee. Joe Hight, director ofinformation and development for The
Oklahoman/NewsOK.com, and David Arkin, vice president of content & audience
forGateHouse Media Inc., are co-chairs of the committee.
News organizations are encouraged to continue submitting their
innovations and ideas for APME’s popular Great Ideas book. It’s easy and takes
only a few minutes to submit one by going to http://www.apme.com/?page=GreatIdeasform.
can see question-and-answers and links to this month’s winners by going to ….
INNOVATOR OF THE
MONTH: Our City, Our World
Free Press, Manitoba, Canada.
REPRESENTATIVE: Julie Carl, Deputy Editor
WHY THIS PAPER WON: The Free Press created an
innovative monthly section that focuses on ethic communities.
-- AFRICA: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/special/ourcityourworld/africa/
-- PHILIPPINES: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/special/ourcityourworld/philippines/
-- SOUTH ASIA:
-- UNITED KINGDOM: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/special/ourcityourworld/uk/
1. What prompted you to create this
A community member who is active in helping
immigrants from Africa settle into life in our province told us how many
newcomers come here from Africa. He suggested
we publish a theme paper on the issue. Manitoba
relies heavily on immigration for development so we decided to look at all our
immigrant communities, starting with the theme issue on Africa
in the entire paper. Once a month, we dedicate our weekend features section to
an ethnic community. The project is called Our City, Our World.
2. What were the steps in creating it?
We let the
immigration numbers guide us in choosing which groups we highlight, but
generally the groups have come from countries where daily newspapers are valued
more than in North America. The newspaper
extinction timeline pegs newspapers disappearing in Canada
by 2020, in the U.S.
by 2017. But in parts of Africa, they are expected to be going strong beyond
2040, parts of the Middle East into 2035. We
are hopeful not only that our longtime readers will learn new things about
their community, but that the newcomers will realize the Winnipeg Free Press is
their paper, too. We believe that is working. Emails from newcomers have said
they feel part of the community now that their story has been told in the
3. How did you introduce or promoteit to
by publishing a couple of columns outlining the project for readers, written by
the paper’s editor, Margo Goodhand. We received many, many emails from readers
suggesting story ideas or people who should be profiled. That proved very handy
when it came to our lists and thumbnail sketches of prominent citizens in each
of the ethnic communities. Those pages are very popular with readers.
4. Any results thus far?
are still enthusiastic, still sending us story ideas and asking when their
community will be highlighted.
5. What would you recommend to other media
wanted to do a similar project?
readers what you are doing. The process has been quite collaborative because of
GREAT IDEA OF THE
photographs: Images from the Illinois State Journal glass plate negatives
WINNER: Photo Editor Rich Saal.
NEWSPAPER: State Journal-Register, Springfield, IL
WHY THIS PAPER WON: Saal spent two years reviewing glass negatives to create a special
exhibit now on display through Aug. 3 at the Lincoln Library.
1. What prompted you
to create this innovation?
The digitization of glass plate negatives taken between 1929
and 1935 for one of our predecessor newspapers, the Illinois State Journal,
came while studying American history for a Master's degree. Awareness of the
plates, which our newspaper had donated to a local historical collection in
1989, came during research for a class. The plates had not been digitized, so
the project seemed like a logical step to take.
2. What were the
steps in creating it?
Over a period of two years, I digitized all 1,340 plates,
and then viewed the Illinois State Journalon microfilm covering the
six-year span to find caption information from the published images. Once I had
those two steps completed, I put together the exhibition and produced a 64-page
catalog from the collection. The exhibit is at our community library and open
to the public. The project also included development of a website, springfieldphotographs.com,
where viewers can see close to 70 images and comment on them individually. More
images from the collection will be added to the site over the coming months. I
raised $11,000 in grant funds to cover expenses, the highest being construction
of display walls for the exhibit. They will be donated to the library when the
exhibition ends, creating a new venue for community art exhibits.
3. How did you
introduce or promoteit to your audience?
For months leading up to the exhibit, I used our
department's blog http://www.sj-r.com/blogs/photo to
write about individual images from the collection and those entries were shared
on our Facebook page. Three weeks before the exhibit, we used images in a
Picturing the Past feature we publish weekly in our print edition to promote
the exhibit's opening. I shared information with the local historical society,
which sent it to their members, and I used direct mail to reach approximately
300 others. We wrote about the exhibit in a story spread over two pages in our
Sunday feature section the weekend before it opened. Finally, house ads in our
print edition will continue to promote the exhibition, which runs through
August 3, and alert readers to a 20 percent discount we are offering on
reprints from the collection until it ends.
4. Any results thus
On the opening night of the exhibit, I gave a presentation
on the project and the images to a standing-room-only crowd. It has generated
lots of positive feedback from community members, many of whom I've heard from
directly. In its first 15 days, the website had nearly 30,000 page views.
5. What would you
recommend to other media wanted to do a similar project?
The historical record created by American newspapers is
unparalleled in its depth and scale. The perishable nature of negatives from
20th century technology means they won't last forever. I would encourage
newspapers that have photographs and/or negatives from the early to mid-20th
century to seek options for proper storage and digitization. Grant funding for
digitization projects is out there if you are persistent in searching and put
together a solid proposal. If your company is not in a position to do this,
check with local or state historical organizations that may be interested in
taking your collection and will have more experience writing grant proposals.
Turning over your collection doesn't mean you have to relinquish ownership or
copyright, but those issues need to be addressed and clearly stated if you
begin discussions with someone. You might also find community volunteers who
you can train and have them work a few hours a week on your collection.
Digitization will allow you to enter the files into your own digital archive
and possibly bring revenue in from reprint sales. Your newspaper's visual
legacy is interesting to your community and important to historians and
researchers. Bringing them into the 21st century can benefit everyone.