First place: Nick Dumont, The Gaston Gazette

About this entry: “I ran into two problems when I first wanted to create a project around North Carolina’s proposed Bond Act. First, even after simplifying the documents there was still so much information I knew it would be overwhelming and confusing for the reader. And second, to be blunt, it was pretty dry.

So I decided to scrap the article I was writing and get innovative. I began coding a visual web layout and created a 3D map of North Carolina, with shapes of each county elevated proportionally by how much funding they received in the Bond Act per capita.

Below the map is a visual list of all 100 counties, displaying specific info regarding how much money they’re receiving and where this money will go. If you click on a county on the map you will be directed to their section of the list.

Overall, the four interactive 3D maps and list organized the material and made a dense subject extremely easy to understand and dig through. Elements of this project appeared in newspapers across the state, and we received responses from all over saying how the innovative visual approach helped readers understand the Bond Act.” — Nick Dumont

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Check it out: Breaking down North Carolina’s Bond Act

Follow Nick on Twitter @nick_dumont

Let’s face it: writing about government bonds is dry work, albeit important. The staff of the Gaston Gazette should be commended for realizing a way to help understand their importance but finding an interactive way for readers to digest the information.

Second place: Nick Dumont and Eric Wildstein, The Gaston Gazette

About this entry: “Education reporter Eric Wildstein wrote an article about the expenses high school seniors face. But he didn’t just want a regular list format, so I worked with him to develop an online presentation.

We created three tableaus – for prom, graduation and college applications. They each have interactive illustrations and animations, so readers can hover, click and scroll on different elements to engage with the feature.

The interactive elements serve three purposes – 1) the visuals help readers digest the information better than a list would 2) they’re fun to interact with, which improves the reader experience 3) they break up the text so the story doesn’t seem as long.

We’ve heard from readers, especially the high school-aged ones we were targeting with this story, that innovative interactives like this interest them far more than standard articles. And the results of this story confirmed it – we received far more social shares and feedback than we normally would.” — Nick Dumont

Check it out: The story of senior spending

Follow Nick on Twitter @nick_dumont, and follow Eric @TheGazetteEric

As any parent knows, the cost of putting kids through school can be expensive. The staff of the Gazette did an excellent job not only breaking down those costs but using technology in a creative way to make the numbers digestible.

Third place: Staff, The Herald News

About this entry: “After a particularly brutal year, politically, in 2014, which saw the only successful mayoral recall in city (and state) history, we felt that the city was reeling and facing an identity crisis, and we embarked on a project called ‘Future of Fall River.’

With a dedicated Facebook page, we presented a series that looked at what Fall River is, as well as what folks in the know thought Fall River could and should be.

We took a hard look at the facts – where did the schools stand, how did fees/taxes stack up compared to other communities, what was the city’s image to outsiders (especially the millennials that the city is so eager to attract). We found a pretty cool interactive digital graph that showed the changes in taxes.

We even had a local artist depict for us Fall River’s motto of ‘We’ll try,’ and used that as the main art with the introductory story.

We asked local notables in all sectors – nonprofit, business, politics, education, the arts, etc. – to weigh in with a ‘wish list’ of where they’d like to see Fall River in the next 10 years and how they thought we could get there. These were published online over the course of a week and then gathered them all for print in a big Sunday package to kick it off.

We also broke down the city into its very distinct neighborhoods and showed each one’s unique needs and strengths. The Fall River Forward Award, which is given by our Community Advisory Board, was born out of this project as a way to recognize the individuals and groups who are doing great things to move the city forward.” — Lynne Sullivan

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Read online: Welcome to the Future of Fall River

Follow The Herald News on Twitter @HNNow

Incredible page design coupled with an innovative and serious community focus earned the Herald News an award in this category.