MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Jamie Wachter, the editor of the Suwannee Democrat, The Jasper News and Mayo Free Press, was named the Digital Innovation in Storytelling winner this week in the annual Best of CNHI contest.
Wachter was honored for his work online, specifically leading into last fall’s football season. Judges were impressed by the “North Florida 2019 High School Football Road Map” that appeared in the papers’ online Suwannee Valley Prep Football Preview.
“Good use of free technology proved useful to avid football fans,” the judges wrote about the interactive map that suggested games to watch each week throughout the season.
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The North Florida papers also utilized graphics online through social media to help celebrate local players, coaches and programs. Among the graphics created and shared were weekly score graphics with scores from Suwannee High games, a special graphic celebrating the 500th win in the Bulldogs’ program history and graphics honoring the region’s players and coach of the year.
The papers’ website also featured an interactive graphic highlighting the All-Area football team.
“With the changing media landscape, we’re always looking for new, fun ways to reach our readers,” Wachter said of the digital award.
Publisher Jeff Masters added: “Whether in print, online or through social media, we want to package the news in attractive and informative ways. Jamie is always striving to do that as this award shows.”
Wachter also was a finalist for Sports Writer of the Year in Division III, the company’s non-daily papers. Patrick Hayslip with the Gainesville (Texas) Register won the award.
The work that earned Wachter the finalist nod included looking back at the 1999 Suwannee High state runner-up football team as well as coverage of Suwannee’s 500th win in program history, which came at Santa Fe on Aug. 30, and a feature on Lafayette quarterback Jaxson Beach, the Suwannee Valley Offensive Player of the Year.
The judging panel included eight CNHI editors and news executives, handing out Newspaper of the Year, Magazine of the Year, Public Service Awards and honors in seven individual categories as well as digital work for breaking news, social media and video.
CNHI is the parent company of the North Florida weeklies and owns more than 100 papers in 22 states.
Other winners in the company’s Division III were: Kyle Ocker, The Daily Iowegian, Centerville, Iowa, Reporter of the Year and Photographer of the Year; Stuart Taylor, Tifton (Ga.) Gazette, Editorial Writer of the Year; Kim Poindexter, Tahlequah (Okla.) Daily Press, Columnist of the Year; John Zavinski, Allied News, Grove City, Pennsylvania, Designer of the Year; Tahlequah Daily Press, Best Use of Social Media; Erin Cox, Corbin (Ky.) Times-Tribune, Video of the Year; Tahlequah Daily Press, Newspaper of the Year; and the Tifton Scene, Magazine of the Year.