First place: Staff, The Herald-Tribune

About this entry: The Herald-Tribune’s “Chasing the Ghost” tells the saga of the Wallenda family after the death of its patriarch Karl. The team spend month investigating the dynamics of the competitive circus family and for the online version of the piece, featured a pairing of extensive galleries of photographs and videos with an interactive family tree on a beautifully designed website.

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Read online: Chasing the Ghost

Follow The Herald-Tribune on Twitter @HeraldTribune

Photo galleries, videos and an interactive family tree provide multiple entry points to a fascinating tale of the making and disintegration of a showbiz dynasty. The editors’ choice of digital elements help orient readers to a complex multigenerational tale, without overwhelming the story.

Second place: Josh Wright, The Columbus Dispatch

About this entry: Josh Wright’s interactive timeline uses archival photographs, videos and articles to cover the political career of Michael Coleman, Columbus’ longest-serving mayor, including a look at both his political priorities and of the controversies he was involved in while in office.

Read online: Timeline: Michael B. Coleman

Follow Josh on Twitter @joshuaawright

The timeline tool in and of itself is nothing fancy, but here it’s used to maximum effect. It charts the rise and falterings of Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman in a way that makes it clear that his path was inextricably linked to the fortunes of the city. Strong photography helps tell an involving story.

Third place: Staff, StarNews Media

About this entry: The StarNews’ emphasis on all things is digital is noteworthy, and their use of a vast range of digital tools, from interactive calendars to live blogs of events, in their coverage truly showcases the many ways traditional print newsrooms can strive to make a name for themselves in the digital realm.

Read online: Classy or cheap, vodka is popular, ABCs of N.C. liquor sales, Multicultural dining guide in the Cape Fear region, Yankee or Rebel? A Civil War test, Play #CapeFearEats Restaurant Bingo, N.C. Azalea Festival

Follow StarNews Media on Twitter @StarNewsOnline and on Facebook here

The StarNews demonstrates overall mastery of digital tools, going beyond the usual maps and timelines to include shareable calendars of events, polls and games. The editors’ choice of tools is thoughtful and helpful to readers — not just the addition of gizmos for novelty’s sake.