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2015 General Excellence in Online Journalism, Large Newsroom finalist

BostonGlobe.com

About the Project

The Boston Globe had a good year. We aggressively broke news and offered some of the best longform journalism on the Web. We delved into new forms of storytelling and produced groundbreaking digital initiatives. We covered major trials, devastating blizzards, and controversial championships. Above all, we maintained a commitment of journalistic excellence and service to our community of readers.

Our list of achievements over the past year is long, but here are a few examples:

DIGITAL REPORTING

We continuously set the news agenda in Boston and beyond by combining a sharp sense for news, superior enterprise reporting, and cutting-edge digital storytelling.

Nowhere was this more evident than the federal death penalty trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Tsarnaev was sentenced to death in the name of the American people, but few had access to the courtroom. Only a handful of seats were available. Video and photo were prohibited.

At the Globe, in the heart of the city rocked by Tsarnaev’s crimes, it was not only our responsibility to cover the trial, but to open that courtroom for the world each day.

We accomplished this through a number of key initiatives:

  • An innovative, context-driven, iterative timeline
  • Finish Line, a daily podcast
  • A comprehensive network of evidence and witnesses
  • Tools to explain the jury selection process
  • Liveblogs, live tweets, and daily reports
  • A full, searchable archive of all Globe coverage
  • News reports and columns filed from court each day

But there were other projects, too. Our longform multimedia articles “Fury entered here” and “The Unforgotten” were as good as anything published on the Web in the past year.

When beloved longtime mayor Thomas Menino died, we broke the news and then rolled out a deep, layered multimedia package that allowed readers to fully understand what he meant to the city.

As record snowfall buried Boston this winter, Globe.com and its social accounts hummed around the clock with alerts, warnings, resources, and other information to help readers.

And we didn’t disappoint during the Patriots Super Bowl run and Deflategate controversy, regularly breaking news and publishing some of the most insightful analysis on the team’s tumultuous road to a fourth Super Bowl championship.

CREATIVE STORYTELLING

We harnessed the visual and multimedia skills of our journalists to tell stories like never before.

Our most impressive effort was “Chasing Bayla,” a heartbreaking story of a scientist’s quest to save the right whale. For Bayla, we explored the concept of a parallel narrative — a story told twice, once through text, and again through imagery.

The result was an innovative long-read template with streams for both a clean reading experience and a clean multi-media experience, each side telling the full arc of the story, yet intricately tied together in narrative and purpose.

We gave new life to history for the 40th anniversary of court-ordered busing in Boston. We reflected on that controversial chapter in the city’s history with a documentary video and striking audio-visual presentation.

For lighter fare, we brought the city’s fashion to life through a series of cinemagraphs on “The Most Stylish Bostonians”. With “How Meb Won the Marathon.” reigning Boston Marathon champ Meb Keflezighi narrated his way through the course for readers.

We also launched a redesigned version of The Big Picture, our groundbreaking photo blog. The new iteration employs a black background that makes photos pop, and rests within a mobile-optimized layout.

USER INTERFACE AND INTERACTIVITY

We delved into the concept of networked information this year during the Tsarnaev trial. Rather than overwhelming readers with voluminous interactive graphics, we created UX-driven networks to guide readers down a path of information.

During the trial, we wanted readers to understand the more than 900 pieces of evidence presented at the trial. To that end, we created an interconnected network that matched every piece of evidence to the associated witness, and vice versa. Through these sophisticated connections, we allowed readers to delve deeply into little-seen information from the case, but also understand the context under which it was presented. The response from readers was strong — the evidence network had the second-highest engagement time of any piece of content in our site’s history.

We also opened up our community for a little fun. In March, we launched “Munch Madness,” a cheeky nod to the popular basketball tournament that pitted area restaurants against one another in an interactive, responsive design bracket. More than 100,000 votes were cast in the contest.

USE OF SOCIAL TOOLS

We flocked to new platforms over the past year, reaching readers on their venue of choice and exploring the power of each new medium. We’re one of the few newsrooms to have a journalist dedicated to reporting almost exclusively on social media in James Pindell with his Ground Game initiative. Rather than merely using social as a means to distribute links, James uses myriad platforms as his primary means of covering the 2016 campaign. The result is a rich, multifaceted report that includes everything from scoops broken on Twitter to live interviews on Periscope to first-person reflections on Medium.

Beyond Ground Game, we consistently created smart, engaging graphics and videos for our social audience for a wide variety of news events and features.