2016 Breaking News, Medium Newsroom winner

An Occupation in Eastern Oregon

Chronicling the 41-day standoff Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

OPB Digital Team

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Breaking News, Medium Newsroom


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Judges comments

Amazing use of digital elements along with audio, timelines and explainers. Loved this package.

About the Project

In early January 2016, a group of armed protesters took over a wildlife refuge in a remote part of Oregon. They claimed they were occupying the lands to promote their belief that the federal government has no right to own land in the American West.

OPB was one of the first media organizations to reach the refuge and report the news. We posted more than 250 stories from the beginning through the immediate aftermath of the occupation, and continue to report as those arrested make their way through the court system.

What distinguished our coverage was immediate and solid reporting offered with unmatched context and in-depth explanation across our digital platforms. Our coverage included text, mobile alerts, social media updates, video, photos and audio.

Our radio reporters worked as true multimedia producers—partnering with our digital team and allowing the story itself to determine the best medium to use to tell it each day.

We were almost always first with the latest details delivered via social media and mobile alerts. Our online stories incorporated the latest tweets and broader context. Many stories were digital only, from the explainer: 5 things you need to know that earned more than 250,000 page views, to longer magazine style features including an in-depth look at one of the occupiers. His journey starting in Ohio, through the standoff and his abandonment by fellow occupiers leaving the real possibility that he might not live through the final days of the occupation.

We featured photo essays and posted video stories about the refuge and the area pulled from the archives of our environmental and outdoor television magazine shows. We also posted all of our audio coverage, including a one-hour documentary incorporating our breaking coverage.

OPB’s coverage of the crisis provided the best immediate reporting and continues today with comprehensive explanation and examination of its lasting impact. The seamless integration of broadcast, online, mobile and social platforms is an exceptional example of the power of true immediate multimedia storytelling.