Local Media Digital Innovation Award Winners

This contest recognizes the best digital innovation in the industry. Newspapers, TV stations, radio stations and digital news sites competed for top honors, making this the only contest of its kind.

A big thank you to Frank Mungeam and his colleagues at the ASU Cronkite School of Journalism for judging this year’s contest. When asked about the contest winners, Mungeam said, “the LMA award winners demonstrate a wide range of innovation – from storytelling to new formats and platforms, to new revenue models. An inspiring roadmap for the future of news!”

The winners will receive their awards at the LMA Digital Revenue Summit (April 22-23 at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare) during a red carpet reception with the category sponsors Monday evening.

Best Local Website

This award recognizes the best all-around local media websites. Judges considered all aspects including: site design and organization, content, use of photos, graphics and video, user experience and engagement, presentation of advertising, mobile adaptability, and more. Judges were looking for creative, intuitive and robust websites that are beautifully designed with strong local content.

Winners:

Above 750,000 unique visitors:

First Place: Austin American-Statesman/Gatehouse (www.statesman.com)

Judges’ comments: Great combination of digital elements, from strong original local reporting, to user generated content, original local entertainment content, and advanced media like drone video and podcasts.
Second Place: McClatchy (Example websites include: sacbee.com, newsobserver.com, charlotteobserver.com, miamiherald.com)
Third Place: KTLA/Tribune Broadcasting (https://ktla.com)

Below 750,000 unique visitors:

First Place: The Gazette (www.thegazette.com)
Judges’ comments: Clean, bold site layout, well organized home page. Exceptional photography both on fronts and in stories. Strong interactive elements,. Well reported, robust local news coverage. 
Second Place: LNP Media Group (www.lancasteronline.com)

Best Social Media Strategy – Sponsored by Social News Desk

Social News DeskThis award recognizes the most successful and creative plans when it comes to leveraging social media to expand audience and heighten engagement. Judges were looking for interesting and new approaches to platforms such as Facebook, Reddit and Instagram that inspire audiences to connect with media and their local community.

Winners:

Above 750,000 unique visitors:

First Place: WPIX/Tribune Broadcasting
Judges’ comments: I liked how they had a very direct four pillar approach in their strategy, shared good examples, and then showed actual year-over-year metrics to back up their claims of success.
Second Place: WDIV/Graham Media
Third Place: WJW Fox 8 Cleveland

Below 750,000 unique visitors:

First Place: Jackson Hole News & Guide
Judges comments:  Social media plan had rigor (best practices), rewards (Bagel bucks!), and strong organization (posting schedules). Nice collaborations like #staffpicks and strong performance tracking, used to refine strategy!  
Second Place: El Clasificado

Best Strategy to Grow Digital Audience – Sponsored by Leap Media Solutions | BlueVenn 

LEAP Media Solutions

This award recognizes sites that are developing high-quality content, processes, and user experiences that have proven to increase overall audience. Judges were looking for innovative and successful plans, such as new products, investments or tools, executed in the last year.

Winners:

First Place: Swift Communications / Tahoe Daily Tribune
Judges’ comments: Many newsrooms realize that they cannot be everything to everyone, but few walk the talk. This strategy harnessed that objective together with a multi-pronged audience research approach to produce outstanding, data-driven results.
Second Place: USA TODAY NETWORK
Third Place: WPIX/Tribune Broadcasting

Best Video Strategy

This category rewards local media companies that have made video a top priority in areas such as storytelling, breaking news, sports, advertising, sponsored content and more. Judges looked for strong and sustainable monetization strategies—current or planned—that support the expense of video projects. This is not a best single use of video award but rather one that recognizes a fantastic overall strategy. Videos can include those produced in-house or first published on social media.

Winners:

First Place: NBC NY 
Judges’ comments:  NBC NY video strategy is grounded in recognition that younger audience use different platforms and have dfferent expectations for how video should be done. “Listen Up”, a made for Instagram daily mini-cast, and “News4You” a news update produced daily aimed for the YouTube audience, are great examples of a video strategy that’s tailored to the platform.
Second Place: Pixelent – A Division of WBNS, That Ohio Vibe
Third Place: The Sumter Item, Sumter Today

Best New Digital Initiative – Sponsored by Dream Local Digital

Launching a new digital initiative takes time and resources, so this award showcases the best use of both that drove positive results. This broad category can encompass a digital initiative launched in the last year such as OTT, podcasting, virtual reality, insight selling, custom CMS, or something else that is new and emerging. Judges will look at how the initiative was planned, executed and whether company goals were met as a result of the initiative. The entry should include details on strategy, revenue, results and plans to grow or duplicate the initiative.

Winners:

Above 750,000 unique visitors:

First Place: WPIX/Tribune Broadcasting
Judges’ comments: The WPIX Social Media Studio – a studio in a box – is a smart investment in agile, multi-platform video programming creation. The team leveraged the ability to stream to many channels without needing a TV studio, and drove great first-year results: 700 streams, 16 million impressions, 200,000 reactions comments and shares – and nearly $300K in gross digital revenue. 
Second Place: KPRC/Graham Media, Eyes of Texas
Third Place: Cordillera Digital CMS

Below 750,000 unique visitors:

First Place: Interactive News / Ledger Dispatch
Judges’ comments: Bringing the newspaper to life with interactive AR elements: Using the mobile phone to make the paper a rich media experience – and using technology to create new and richer ad and revenue channels
Second Place: KSL/Bonneville COLD podcast
Third Place: WKMG/Graham Media On the Go

Best Digital News Project – Sponsored by TownNews.com

The awards for best digital news project were given to entries that display captivating, innovative, and intentional storytelling. This could be a single piece, a collection, or an ongoing series. Judges were looking for cohesion and strong storytelling, as well as how the project helps meet company business goals.

Winners:

Above 750,000 unique visitors:

First Place: Miami Herald/McClatchy
Judges’ comments: In a category with many outstanding entries, the Miami Herald investigation stands out not only for its robust use of digital media – text, video and interactive elements – but because of the deep reporting, the advocacy for these underage victims of sex trafficking, the national significance of the story, and the impact of their report. 
Second Place: The Virginian-Pilot/Tribune
Third Place: Charlotte Observer/McClatchy

Below 750,000 unique visitors:

First Place: Gatehouse Media
Judges’ comments: Failure to Deliver is a deeply reported story about baby mortality from midwife delivery. Exceptional depth, great data visualizations and underlying data work, compelling video stories of the victims. Reveals and persuasively documents a national issue. 
Second Place: KSL/Bonneville
Third Place: The Gazette

Best Consumer Revenue Initiative – Sponsored by Google News Initiative

New in 2019! This award recognizes exceptional strategy and execution of a new consumer revenue initiative. This can include digital subscriptions, membership, e-commerce, targeted marketing, data mining, and other revenue opportunities for local media. Judges looked for how companies have used new tools, data or creative means to create new revenue. The organizations that are most innovative and aggressive in their approaches were recognized.

Winners:

First Place: Buffalo News
Judges’ comments: Love the successful paywall outcome. Smart use of technology, and then scaling what was learned into its own business product. 
Second Place: McClatchy

Best Events Strategy – Sponsored by Geotix

This award recognizes local media companies that have put an exceptional strategy together when it comes to events.

Winners:

First Place: Daily Herald Media Group
Judges’ comments: I liked how they incorporated a “multi-pronged” approach and were very systematic with their events … and I liked their examples the best.
Second Place: Summit Daily News/Swift Communications
Third Place: WPIX/Tribune Broadcasting

Best Contest and/or Promotion – Sponsored by Second Street

This award recognizes a contest or promotion that was above and beyond expectations. Judges were looking for creativity across media, engagement with the community, and fantastic results.

Winners:

Above 750,000 unique visitors:

First Place: Black Press
Judges’ comments: Black Press’ amateur photographer contest capitalized on the public’s innate desire to create and contribute, earning them new audience in the process. The results were quantitatively impressive, and qualitatively stunning!
Second Place: Gatehouse Media
Third Place: Arizona Daily Star/Lee Enterprises

Below 750,000 unique visitors:

First Place: WDIV/Graham Media (4Frenzy)
Judges’ comments: The promotion earns rich engagement from the community; the revenue is one thing, but the community’s brand affinity will pay dividends for years.
Second Place: RJ Media Group
Third Place: WDIV/Graham Media (4theBest)

Best Audio and/or Voice Strategy – Sponsored by Dream Local Digital 

New in 2019! This award showcases achievement in audio or voice strategy at local media companies. This can include technological projects, sponsored podcasts, marketing plans, and other examples of how local news is reaching listeners through various devices. Judges were looking for strong models with scalability that generate interest and/or provide new options for the audience.

Winners:

First Place: WPIX/Tribune Broadcasting
Judges’ comments: WPIX-TV has an audio strategy that not only lands content in more traditional ways like podcasts, but also gives the audience excellent options using new technologies like Alexa in a sustainable way. It’s clear WPIX-TV is invested in producing audio content that meets listeners where they are in a fun and engaging way. From the Alexa Briefing to the station’s Alexa weather to a super fun podcast, there’s so much to applaud!
Second Place: Gatehouse Media
Third Place: KTXL/Tribune Broadcasting

Best R&D Partner 

This award recognizes an R&D company that helps drive new digital revenue and results for local media companies and/or went above and beyond in areas such as training, installation, troubleshooting, and support.

Winner:

Second Street
Judges’ comments: Second Street is the clear winner, with multiple nominations noting Second Street platform not only enabled the news outlet to grow direct revenue via contests, etc; but also the value of the user data acquired through dramatic increases in email data and other user data. Second Street is also recognized for their excellent customer service, and best practices trainings for clients

Local Media Digital Innovator of the Year – Sponsored by TapClicks 

This award recognizes a digital media rock star that delivers fantastic results for their company by pioneering new concepts and experimenting in new and creative ways. This award is focused on digital revenue growth.

Winner:

Rebecca Capparelli, Vice President for Promotions, Gatehouse Media
Judges’ comments: From $0 to $20M in 3 years! Driven direct revenue growth as well as valuable customer databases. Built and grown a central team supporting local markets to grow revenue and better serve their local advertisers, with unmatched training, case studies and support. An inspiring leader!

Local Media Digital News Innovator of the Year – Sponsored by AdMall 

Logo for AdMall, Powered by SalesFuel

This award recognizes a digital media industry leader that is focused on the content side of the business. They are a high achiever in audience development and have the results to back it up.

Winner:

Steve Baron, VP/Digital and Head of Product, Tribune Media
Judges’ comments: Steve and his team’s results speak for themselves. Tops in comScore for local multi-platform news, robust local news sites and apps, and forward looking adoption of voice and OTT channels, as well as for-platform vertical video for mobile.