Editor and Publisher announced Monday that the Star Tribune won a 2009 “Do It Right” award for its “Ballot Challenge,” an excellent U.S. Senate recount feature that let readers see and vote on 6,700 challenged votes.
As E&P noted, “One immediate effect was to highlight the many illegally frivolous challenges — embarrassing the campaigns into dropping thousands of disputes.”
As I recall, the Strib wasn’t the first to display disputed ballots (MPR displayed a captivating handful, including the infamous “Lizard People”), but the Minneapolis paper had everything and deployed the best use of technology to gather readers’ verdicts.
Credit goes to a whole host of people at 425 Portland, including Computer-Assisted Reporting Editor Glenn Howatt, online designers Jamie Hutt and Dave Braunger, programmers such as Pat Lewis, Kelly Anderson and Chad Wagner, and supervisors Dennis McGrath and Doug Tice. A linchpin was data coordinator John Stefany, who, sadly for future efforts, has since left for another job in the private sector.
The feature was not only successful journalistically, but commercially, garnering 700,000-800,000 page views, Howatt says. [Update: A company annoucement put page views at 2 million.] The crew, which began preparing the feature after it became clear there would be a recount, got the state’s data dump at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Eve. They worked through the night so the package could go live (appropriately?) on Turkey Day.
All in all, a great example of the major media bring major resources to bear on a major issue.