Kim was being modest, of course. She knows. I spent a few minutes asking her about what separates her site from the rest.
"Our approach is not to cut-and-paste TV," she told me. "We are a news website, not a TV news website. We enterprise stories; we're journalists in our own right." Having won the regional Murrow twice in a row along with this year's national Murrow and a host of other digital journalism awards, that approach appears to be working.
Nguyen pointed out the complementary skills the digital team brings to the table: one web journalist hails from TV news production and is accustomed to the "churn and burn" approach that delivers the necessary immediacy expected of a site that regularly breaks news. Another has a print background and relishes investigative and data-driven reporting. And a third has a knack for analytics, keeping track of which content is performing and which isn't.
TheDenverChannel features a level of enterprise reporting not found on many local TV websites. During last year's convoluted mayoral campaign in Denver, the web staff created profiles of each of the 10 candidates. They conducted web-exclusive video interviews with each, had them write an essay on why they were running and provided site users with links to each candidate's social media presence. Groundbreaking? Perhaps not, but the project reflects a level of effort not consistently seen on local TV websites, most of which focus primarily -- and in some cases exclusively -- on repurposing newscast content.
And that effort is not limited to the occasional big story. "This is the kind of stuff we do every day," said Nguyen. She pointed to multiple examples of stories that the digital staff had broken or helped to break online, along with several showing the dogged way in which they manage online coverage of developing, highly complex stories. (Check out a few URLs at the end of this post.)
Nearly everyone in the 7News newsroom contributes directly to the station's digital efforts in multiple ways. "Everyone uses the CMS," said Nguyen. "It could be 40 or 50 people contributing in a given day." Reporters create web versions of their television scripts, often adding information that didn't make the on-air cut. They add their own images and video. Desk editors monitor and manage social feeds. Producers add links referenced in their shows and work with the digital staff to identify web-exclusive content to promote.
Looming large in the newsroom is a monitor displaying the latest traffic stats from Chartbeat, so everyone knows which stories are resonating with their audience. During a recent visit to the station, I watched as a 7News producer monitored the impact of a tweet on traffic to a given story. The engagement in the newsroom is obvious. TheDenverChannel is not "those web people over there." It's everyone.
And that, says Ngyuen, makes the difference between the award winner and the also-ran. "We're all here to serve the community in Denver and Colorado."
Examples of TheDenverChannel's award-winning content: