The Seattle Times Interactive

The Seattle Times was awarded two Online News Association awards Sept. 27 for breaking news coverage of the deadly Oso, Wash., mudslide and for “Sea Change,” an explanatory project examining the effects of ocean acidification around the Pacific Ocean.

The mudslide coverage included the work of Cheryl Phillips, a Stanford Hearst Professional in Residence and the former data innovation editor at The Seattle Times. Phillips was among The Seattle Times staffers who worked on coverage of the slide over a period of several weeks. Forty-three people were killed in the slide, making it the greatest loss of life in any landslide in U.S. history, according to The Times.

As part of the breaking news coverage, Phillips helped edit news posts and stories, coordinated an internal source and casualty list used in reporting and helped to build an interactive map showing the locations of the victims and the scope of the damage.

“Our data editor, Cheryl Phillips, teamed up with graphics, the investigative team, Metro and the producer crew to provide accurate information to our readers that the government was withholding,” Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best said of Phillips’ work.

“The Oso mudslide was tragic, but the Times newsroom was able to overlay interactive graphics, photos and data onto terrific on-the-ground and investigative reporting to help our readers understand not only what happened, but how it could have been prevented,” Best said. “We married our watchdog reporting with profiles that illustrated the human toll, putting names and faces on the numbers of the dead.”

The work by the paper on both stories illustrates how strong news stories can be told on all platforms in a way that makes a difference for readers, Phillips said. “Sea Change,” the other project receiving an ONA award was an interactive, visual and narrative project on ocean acidification that helped raise public awareness about how climate change is affecting the environment in a multitude of ways — and how it is coming faster than predicted.

“The Oso story was heartbreaking, but I was glad to be a part of a newsroom that told this story with care and on every platform that made sense,” Phillips said. “Now, I am excited to be part of teaching those same skills to students here at Stanford.”

The ONA award-winners were announced on Sept. 27 in Chicago, at the 2014 ONA Conference and Online Journalism Awards Banquet. The Times’ work was competing against other entries by newsrooms with 250 or more employees.

Cheryl Phillips is a Hearst Professional In Residence in the Stanford Journalism Program.

Cheryl Phillips

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Follow Cheryl Phillips on Twitter: @cephillips