The Society for News Design honored ProPublica with 22 Awards of Excellence in this year’s Best of Digital Design competition. ProPublica received three silver medals, which recognize work with an aesthetic and technical proficiency that “should stretch the limits of the medium — representing an elevated level of execution and originality in pursuit of powerful storytelling,” in addition to 19 bronze medals awarded to ProPublica and ProPublica Illinois.
Here are the silver medal-winning projects:
“To See How Levees Increase Flooding, We Built Our Own,” a collaboration with Reveal and Vox, won in the category of Features, Use of Multimedia. Led by ProPublica’s Al Shaw, Lisa Song and Katie Campbell and Ranjani Chakraborty, a ProPublica-Vox video fellow, the team hired engineers at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory at the University of Minnesota to build models of four levee scenarios to see how the height and placement choices of levees can put surrounding communities at greater risk of flooding. “How you can control the flow and see how levees react is a really engaging way to show this information,” said contest judges.
A project from the ProPublica Local Reporting Network, “Powerless: What it looks and sounds like when a gas driller overruns your land,” by the Charleston Gazette-Mail and ProPublica, won for News Features, Business/Finance, Science, Technology, Transportation, Environment & Health. The multimedia package by Ken Ward Jr. of the Gazette-Mail and ProPublica’s Al Shaw and Mayeta Clark used drone footage in its reporting to show that, even if you own your land, you aren’t entitled to the minerals underneath it — allowing natural gas companies to drill right on private property. Judges said: “I really like how the map doesn’t really slam you. It very gradually loads those things in to give you time to process what you’re viewing.”
The Facebook Political Ad Collector won for Graphics, Use of Data. To shine a light on targeted political advertising on Facebook, a team that included Jeremy B. Merrill, Ally J. Levine, Ariana Tobin, Jeff Larson and Julia Angwin built a browser plugin allowing Facebook users to automatically send us the ads displayed in their news feeds, along with information on why they were targeted. This helped ProPublica build a database that lets the public see how ads are targeted to different categories of people. “They did a really good job collecting data themselves,” judges said. “And they made it easy to explore.”
The 19 bronze medal-winners include:
ProPublica — Organization, Story Page Design
Al Shaw — Overall Individual
Powerless: What it looks and sounds like when a gas driller overruns your land, ProPublica and The Charleston Gazette-Mail — Business/Finance, Science, Technology, Transportation, Environment & Health; Use of Multimedia; Use of Maps (3 awards)
Miseducation, ProPublica — Use of Data; New Tools (2 awards)
We will keep on fighting for him, ProPublica Illinois — Business/Finance, Science, Technology, Transportation, Environment & Health
Unprotected, ProPublica, co-published with Time — Use of Multimedia
The Waiting Game, ProPublica, Playmatics and WNYC — National
Could Your Police Department Be Inflating Rape Clearance Rates?, ProPublica, Newsy and Reveal — Local Issues
Levees Graphics, ProPublica, Reveal and Vox — Line of Coverage
One Night on a Private Garbage Truck in New York City, ProPublica and the Investigative Fund — Use of Maps
Trump Town, ProPublica — Use of Data
The Ticket Trap, ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ — Use of Data
“Standing by their convictions” Twitter thread, ProPublica — Social Media Design - Shared Image and Card Design
“The Killing Fields” Instagram stories, ProPublica — Social Media Design - Social Media Stories or Thread Design
30 Years of Negligence at Tyndall Air Force Base, ProPublica — Social Media Design - Use of Multimedia
Bloodstain-pattern analysis Twitter thread, ProPublica — Social Media Design - Use of Information Graphics
See a list of all the Best of Digital Design winners here.