2016 Newspaper of the Year: Division D
Wareham Courier, Wareham, Massachusetts
Publisher: Mark Olivieri
Follow the Wareham Courier on Facebook and Twitter
This newspaper has a strong local, local presence. Photos are included with nearly every story; headlines are engaging. This paper also interacts with readers in print and online. In this judging period, third-grade students had submitted letters to the editor on a local matter related to their school. This is a creative use for content and reader engagement. The digital presence is equally strong, with videos and photos. The Facebook page is an intimate snapshot of life in Wareham. Reporter Chris Shott, whose byline is all over this paper, shows heart in his writing and storytelling across platforms.
What new initiatives or projects did your newspaper launch in 2016?
Reporter Chris Shott is doing a video for virtually every story he covers, from the more obvious choices like events with children playing, sports, or spot news to meetings, as well. And we’re getting some positive feedback on Facebook. It’s interesting to see a Sewer Commission meeting not of any particularly overwhelming interest (in other words, no rate hikes mulled) and find it eclipsing in looks something like a jump-rope for health event at the local YMCA with lots of kids in evidence. Chris is averaging about 100 videos a month. They’re very straight forward, no frills, just capturing what’s happening.
What did you do to engage audience, through social media or community involvement in 2016?
We have an internship program with our district high school that’s worked out well. We’ve been fortunate in attracting good students and this helps us get more in touch with what’s going on in the high school, and all the community interaction that springs from the high school, from the buzz around a winning sports team, to the Key Club and JROTC kids’ activities, to the outpouring of support for kids who are struggling with health or other issues. The high school is often a center of activity in behalf of folks in the community.
How did you experiment with digital storytelling tools in 2016?
As mentioned, Chris Shott is really piling on the videos. There was an in-house contest to award the reporter who produced the most videos in September. Chris won it with 120. The contest was subsequently discontinued for whatever reason, but I’m pretty sure Chris would have won it every month.