The Ledger Dispatch in Jackson, Calif., the smallest paper on the list, at 5,000 circulation, made the cut because of Publisher Jack Mitchell's efforts to help papers make more money with augmented reality. "Partnering with Strata, a developer of AR platforms, he created Interactive News (interactivenews.live), software that works with newspapers to create their own AR app and publish augmented reality content over any article or advertisement," E&P reports. "So far, Interactive News has been successful for not only the Ledger Dispatch, which has increased its revenue by 30 percent, but for several other newspapers using the app as well," 30 apps "with 50 to 60 products."
The Cape Cod Times in Hyannis, Mass., is on the list for its creative multimedia projects. Those include "Life With Gwen, a lifestyle Facebook program and podcast hybrid; CCT Live, also a hybrid and weekly news roundup; Cape League Corner, a podcast that highlights the summer basketball league in the country; Cape Cod Fun Show, a lighthearted show that highlights activities in town; and Curious Cape Cod, a reader engagement program that allows readers to submit questions and topics online for journalists to investigate and report on." Executive editor Paul Pronovost told E&P that such programs help reach new audiences or existing audiences in a new way.
The Herald & Review in Decatur, Ill., was honored for its dogged investigation of local officials by digging through public documents. "In a time of shrinking resources and limited bodies to attend meetings, these documents are gold mines of material that, with the right mindset and patience, can spark meaningful watchdog journalism," said Central Illinois Editor Chris Coates.
The Idaho Press in Nampa, which changed its name from the Idaho Press-Tribune last June, was recognized for overcoming hardship. After it lost its biggest printing customer in early 2018, the paper could have reduced its footprint through cutting circulation, reducing coverage and laying off staff. Instead, it expanded coverage, offered home delivery, and hired a slew of reporters and editors to make the paper more valuable to readers. It also acquired an alternative weekly in Boise and transformed it into a Boise bureau. Since March 2018, circulation increased 22 percent daily and 31 percent Sunday.
The Sumter Item in South Carolina made the list for creative money-making after it created a video production company run by newsroom videographers. "Launched in February 2018, Studio Sumter produces local commercials and handles video contracts with the city, county, chamber, economic development board, school system and various other regional groups and businesses. It also produces a daily news show called 'Sumter Today,' hosted by Kayla Robins, the paper’s executive editor. The show comes out Monday through Friday, with an occasional video on the weekend." The venture has been profitable since day one and Sumter Today is popular with locals.