The Register-Mail (Galesburg, IL)

About this entry: The Register-Mail saw major growth this year in its online presence through the use of social media, diversified its coverage through the use of online video and digital tools like Periscope, expertly engaged with its community and took over a large amount of responsibility for its sister paper and continued to be a top source of news.

Read the Register-Mail’s major project online: A Register-Mail special report on domestic violence

Publisher: Scott Carr
Editor: Tom Martin
Follow The Register-Mail on Facebook and Twitter

First place was an easy choice. A seven-part series on domestic violence in Knox County opened with a stunning “In Our Hands” Register-Mail page one presentation assessing local arrest and prosecution data. Other strengths included solid tornado coverage and open records initiatives.

What did you do to engage audience with social media work?

We began recording sports shows and posting those videos online. All three of our sports staff did their own shows with coaches. Then they also pulled in sports editors from other GateHouse papers to do previews of football and basketball seasons, playoffs, tournaments, etc.

Here’s one from this week for an example: click here

What did you do to engage audience with social media work?

We continue to use Twitter and Facebook to promote content and engage with readers. In 2015, we grew our Facebook “likes” from 10,221 to 15,852, a 55 percent increase over 12 months. The staff members also have strong followings on Twitter: 1,571 followers, Tom Loewy; 1,010, Jay Redfern; 681, Marty Hobe;  620, Ben Zigterman;  495, Robert Connelly; 357, Jackson White; and 785, Matt Wheaton.

How did you experiment with digital storytelling tools in 2015?

We used Periscope several times in 2015. The most successful was when reporters used the program to show live scenes of tornado damage in Cameron, Illinois. We also used plenty of video to augment print stories.

Honorable Mention: The Shelby Star (Shelby, NC)

About this entry: The Shelby Star significantly increased its reach through social media and digital projects, produced award-winning journalism and stayed involved in its community through its use of reader-submitted content and scholarship programs for high school students.

Read online: Inside the solar farm debate, Is the U.S. 74 bypass completion in sight?, Filling the food void: County has several ‘food desert’ tracts

Publisher: Lucy Talley
Editor: Gabe Whisnant
Follow The Shelby Star on Facebook and Twitter

Stellar coverage of the arrest of North Carolina church gunman Dylan Storm Roof highlighted many strengths of The Star. The June 19th coverage had it all. Enterprise coverage of community “food deserts” was another highlight.