1st and 2nd in a brand new category

at-cba-with-michelleI’m very proud today to say that my web team at 7NEWS and TheDenverChannel.com was honored with the first and second place awards in a brand new category at the 2012 Colorado Broadcasters Association Awards of Excellence.

Our page covering the Jessica Ridgeway kidnapping, murder and investigation was honored with the first-place award for “Best use of new media” in the metro-market classification. The page, which stretched the limits of what we knew about a brand-new content management system, involved content from every member of our digital team.

It made me very proud that the CBA and the judges chose to honor that shared effort.

The second-place award was given to a cooperative effort with our investigative team. They collected and analyzed data from several Colorado police departments to determine how many rape kits were never tested. I helped to format the raw data that wasn’t included in the story into an infographic using the free tool infogr.am.

That story, on television and online, led to new legislation in Colorado.

In the photo on this post I’m posed outside the banquet hall with Michelle, my girlfriend and date for the event, and the two awards. I’m also carrying a third award picked up for coworkers who couldn’t attend.

Incidentally, my former employer was honored with the first-place award in the same new category for the non-metro entrants. Specifically, the winning entry featured our use of social media during coverage of the Waldo Canyon Fire last summer.

Now it’s time to digress. I’m happy to have been involved in the efforts that won 3 of the 4 awards in this brand new category, but I do object to the title of the category itself.

What is “new media?” How is “new” defined?

Facebook was launched in 2004. Infogr.am’s site footer lists its copyright as starting in 2010. Are those really new anymore?

I’d also shy away from the phrase “digital media” because that encompasses more than the category is intended to include.

I’d much rather have the category be called “best use of internet-connected media.”

The cycles of replacement in media are narrowing. Newspapers came first, but radio followed to capture imaginations in a new way. Television pushed radio out of the living room just as the various tentacles of the internet are pushing against TV.

The cycle persists online too. The app-web really took off with the first iPhone and we see use of smartphone or tablet devices outpacing that of PCs or laptops.

My conclusion: calling the category the “best use of new media” ironically looks backward while trying to promote a positive future.

Or perhaps we should just found a Denver Association of Digital Journalists and give television and broadcast their own niche categories in our awards banquet.