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Harvard innovator names FCN finalist for national award

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CUMMING — The Forsyth County News has been selected as one of four finalists for a nationwide award that commends innovation in the media industry.

The winner of the inaugural Mega-Innovation Award will be announced at the end of the 2016 Key Executives Mega-Conference in Austin, after the finalists’ work is showcased on Feb. 24.

FCN is the only individual media property among the four. The other three are media groups: Calkins Digital; Oklahoma Media Company, the parent company that owns The Oklahoman; and Proven Performance Media LLC (AH Belo Corp.), the media company that owns The Dallas Morning News.

“To be honored as one of the nation’s most innovative media companies, especially among such heavyweights in our industry, is an extreme honor for our staff,” said Vince Johnson, FCN publisher.

The Mega-Innovation Award was created to “identify and reward those companies that are successfully transitioning their business to take advantage of the emerging trends in media and marketing,” according to the conference website.

“It was rewarding to see the number of companies who have changed their approach and are willing to talk about their results so far,” said Carol Hudler, conference programmer for Inland Press Association, Local Media Association and Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, the groups that put on the event.

Harvard Business School Innovator-in-Residence Michael Maness is the judge for the award and will share at the conference insight on the “types of innovation and the role each plays in a company’s success.”

The FCN’s Johnson said he appreciates being in a community that allows their newspaper to innovate.

“We’re always looking for ways to continue building successful partnerships with our community, and innovation is just a byproduct of that,” he said. “We have Forsyth’s largest local media audience in print and online, so that can come in handy for businesses that want to grow and organizations that want to spread their message.”

He noted the video department — both for news and commercial purposes — has been a main area of innovation for the paper.

“The feedback I received also highlighted the Best of Forsyth contest and the enormous number of residents who participate in it, as well as our digital platforms for community engagement in general,” Johnson said.

“Our staff might be 5 percent the size of the next-smallest finalist, but we’ll be ready to showcase our products and ideas head to head in Austin.”