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May 19 2011


Entries open for the 2011 Online Journalism Awards

Rules & Eligibility

The Online News Association, the world’s largest membership organization of digital journalists, and the University of Miami’s School of Communication today opened the call for entries for the 2011 Online Journalism Awards (OJAs), emblematic of the best in online journalism.

This year, ONA introduced changes to acknowledge the explosion of journalistic innovation on new digital platforms. Entries for all awards now are open to news produced for any digital device. Eight awards come with a total of $33,000 in prize money, courtesy of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Gannett Foundation, which also is supporting innovative investigative work with two $2,500 awards.

"The OJAs honor innovative reporting across the digital spectrum — if you are producing top-flight journalism, regardless of your audience or format, these are your awards,” said Awards Chair Anthony Moor, Lead Local Editor, Yahoo!. "We’re especially encouraging strong entries from outstanding community publications, political and cultural blog efforts, and stunning digital work by magazines and television.”

Categories, segmented by size, recognize the breadth of journalistic styles, from crowdsourcing community publications and blog commentary to online video reporting or technical innovation by non-journalists. First-time entrants, including micro publishers who serve small audiences, are encouraged to submit their work. Sole practitioners and ONA members pay a reduced fee to enter.

The OJAs are the only comprehensive set of journalism prizes honoring excellence in digital journalism, administered by ONA and its academic partner, the University of Miami’s School of Communication. Following tradition, this year’s honorees will be announced on the final night of ONA11, the Online News Association Conference and Awards Banquet, Sept. 22-24, at the Marriott Copley Place in Boston.

The 2011 OJAs are open to work published between July 1, 2010, and June 15, 2011. Applicants are invited to submit their work at journalists.org until Friday, June 27, 2011, at 11:59 p.m. ET, in one or more of the following categories:

The Knight Award for Public Service: Recognizes digital journalism that performs a public service for a geographic community through compelling coverage of a vital community issue or event. This $5,000 award is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

General Excellence in Online Journalism: Honors an entry in each of four size categories, plus two from the non-English speaking community, which successfully fulfills its editorial mission, effectively serves its audience, maximizes the use of digital characteristics and represents the highest journalistic standards. The award is $3,000 for each winner, funded by the Gannett Foundation.

The Gannett Foundation Award for Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism: Honors a person or company, journalistic in focus or not, that has built a digital tool significantly enhancing the practice of online journalism; one $5,000 prize.

Breaking News: Honors digital coverage over a 72-hour period of an unplanned breaking-news event or development.

Specialty Site Journalism: Recognizes niche digital news operations that focus on a single topic.

Gannett Foundation Award for Innovative Investigative Journalism: Honors stories that uncover major news based on reporters’ own exclusive investigations or that offer compelling and original analysis and interpretation. Open to all formats, including web documentaries; two awards of $2,500 each.

Multimedia Feature Presentation: Awards excellence in telling a story to an online audience using multimedia techniques, including interactive graphics, Flash, photography, audio and video.

Online Topical Reporting/Blogging: Recognizes beat reporting by an individual or team.

Online Commentary/Blogging: Honors a unique and powerful voice of commentary original to the web.

Outstanding Informational Graphic or Data Visualization: Honors achievement by a site in the use of digital technologies to tell a story and serve a community.

Online Video Journalism: Awards excellence in online-originated video journalism.

Community Collaboration: Recognizes a news project publication that produces outstanding journalism through strong interaction with the community being served.

The finalists and the winners will be selected through a new two-step process. A group of 24 industry-leading journalists and new media professionals team up in pairs to rank finalists in each category. In August, twelve of those judges will meet to select winners at the University of Miami under the auspices of the School of Communication.

For the complete list of 2010 winners, visit journalists.org.

The Online News Association is the world’s largest association of online journalists. ONA’s mission is to inspire innovation and excellence among journalists to better serve the public. The membership includes news writers, producers, designers, editors, bloggers, technologists, photographers and others who produce news for the Internet or other digital delivery systems, as well as academic members and others interested in the development of online journalism.

The University of Miami School of Communication prepares analytical and responsible communication professionals for success in a global society. The School offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in journalism, broadcasting, advertising, public relations, visual journalism, communication studies and motion pictures. The School’s state of the art, all-digital facilities and resources are among the most advanced in the country. Approximately 1,500 students are enrolled.

For more information, contact:
Jane McDonnell, Executive Director
Online News Association

Rules & Eligibility

October 31 2010


Online Journalism Awards for 2010

Major US news organisations dominated the Online Journalism Awards.

MSNBC.com took the award for General Excellence in Online Journalism, while CNN.com’s Haiti Earthquake coverage won for breaking news.

NPR was recognised for its innovative approach, taking the Gannett Foundation Award for Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism for its API and for Outstanding Use of Emerging Platforms for its mobile applications.

Here’s the full list of winners recognised at the Online News Association annual conference in Washington, DC.

- Breaking News, Large Site: CNN.com: Haiti Earthquake

- Breaking News, Small Site: The Tennessean: Nashville Flood

- Community Collaboration: West Seattle Blog: West Seattle’s only 24/7 news source

- Multimedia Feature Presentation, Large Site: The New York Times: Held by the Taliban

– Multimedia Feature Presentation, Medium Site: The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum, Domani Studios, The Martin Agency, AOL, AOL News, AOL SHOUTcast: We Choose the Moon

- Multimedia Feature Presentation, Small Site: National Film Board of Canada: This Land

- Multimedia Feature Presentation, Student: UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism: A Seed is Forever

- Gannett Foundation Award for Innovative Investigative Journalism, Small Site: ProPublica, the New Orleans Times-Picayune and Frontline: Law and Disorder

- Gannett Foundation Award for Innovative Investigative Journalism, Large Site: The New York Times: Toxic Waters

- Online Commentary/Blogging, Medium Site: Salon.com: Glenn Greenwald

- Online Commentary/Blogging, Large Site: ESPN.com: Howard Bryant

- Online Commentary/Blogging, Small Site: Caring.com: Dad Has Dementia

- Online Video Journalism, Large Site: The Toronto Star: William and the Windmill

- Online Video Journalism, Medium Site: The Las Vegas Sun and the Greenspun Media Group: Bottoming Out

- Online Video Journalism, Small Site: Yale Environment 360: Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal Mining

- Online Video Journalism, Student: Knight Center for International Media, School of Communication, University of Miami: My Story, My Goal

- Outstanding Use of Digital Technologies, Professional: The New York Times: Oil Spill Tracker
Online Topical Reporting/Blogging, Small Site: voiceofsandiego.org: Building a Community around Education Coverage

- Online Topical Reporting/Blogging, Medium Site: Mother Jones: Team Coverage of BP Oil Spill

- Online Topical Reporting/Blogging, Large Site: CNN.com: Technology

- Specialty Site Journalism, Affiliated: CHOW.com

- Specialty Site Journalism, Independent: theheart.org by WebMD

- Knight Award for Public Service: Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Flipping Fraud

- Gannett Foundation Award for Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism: NPR API

- Outstanding Use of Emerging Platforms: NPR.org Mobile Applications

- General Excellence in Online Journalism, Non-English, Large Site: OWNI

-General Excellence in Online Journalism, Non-English, Small Site: SA LA NACIÓN

- General Excellence in Online Journalism, Medium Site: The Las Vegas Sun and the Greenspun Media Group

- General Excellence in Online Journalism, Small Site: The Texas Tribune | texastribune.org

- General Excellence in Online Journalism, Micro Site: California Watch and the Center for Investigative Reporting

- General Excellence in Online Journalism, Large Site: msnbc.com

    March 05 2010


    Soitu.es couldn’t find the business model to match its content creativity

    [Laura Bennett is currently on a Fulbright grant in Madrid to research citizen journalism and the democratization of the mainstream Spanish media. She filed this report about Spain's late (but still talked-about) online news startup, Soitu.es. —Josh]

    Spanish news site Soitu.es launched in December 2007 to considerable fanfare. Its homepage boasted flashy graphics and the lofty slogan “no mass media,” a play on the Spanish phrase “no más media” (“no more media”). Within months, Soitu was honored by the Society for News Design and eventually copped two Online News Association awards. The ONA praised its “underlying philosophy of sharing, linking and audience-focused engagement.” It had half a million unique visitors a month and accessed another two million users monthly through its third-party widgets.

    In Spain — where the politicized national press has drawn public skepticism in recent years and newspaper circulation and Internet usage are both markedly below most of the country’s European counterparts’ — Soitu was widely regarded as a breath of fresh air.

    But in October 2009, the site shuttered after just 22 months. Its main financial backer and principal shareholder, the Spanish bank BBVA, had pulled the plug.

    “Soitu was an experiment, a new media laboratory,” founder Gumersindo Lafuente told me. “We have always believed in the socialization of information, but often when people comment on the news, it’s just pure noise. We wanted to capitalize on the whole flow of relevant information that society can contribute using tools that make this influx controllable.”

    Soitu hinged on audience participation. Contributors whose photography, articles, or essays were selected for the homepage received 20 euros. Soitu’s web developers created a slew of original widgets that users could post on their own websites and blogs for free — an attempt, in Lafuente’s words, “to keep conquering spaces on the web with the Soitu brand without spending money on advertising.” Utoi was a homegrown microblogging social network — intended to help journalists rummage for story ideas — that allowed multimedia to be embedded directly in posts and could scan text and suggest tags for entries. And the streamlined crowd-aided news aggregator El Selector let hundreds of collaborators from different spheres of the web (tech, medicine, politics, arts, et al) flag stories that they’d read and liked.

    “The idea was to share the task of deciding what was news with the readers,” said Lafuente, who previously ran the digital edition of Spanish newspaper El Mundo. “Soitu” is a fusion of the Spanish words “Soy” and “tú,” or “I am you.”

    Soitu’s technological tools were groundbreaking. But its business plan, Lafuente admits, was not.

    An overly traditional advertising model and excessive dependence on a single investor — the bank BBVA owned 49 percent — proved to be Soitu’s downfall. “We just had neither the size nor the time to find a focus [besides advertising],” Lafuente said. Developing its specialized technology was Soitu’s principal cost, but the relatively plush Madrid headquarters and large in-house staff of editors, journalists, web developers, and graphic designers were also considerable expenses. When the global economic crisis knocked Soitu to its knees, BBVA backed out and Lafuente struggled to track down another investor, to no avail.

    So what would he do differently, if he could launch Soitu all over again?

    “Clearly I would build a structure that was lighter on expenses,” he said. “I would choose a structure that was lighter on staff with more freelancers. With a product that was more ‘arrevistado’ [formatted similar to a magazine] with two parallel flows of information, one very up-to-date and another with more of its own news and deeper reporting. Nothing in between the two. And fewer structural costs (the office, etc).”

    But for the most part, he added, the site itself — the technological tools, the branding — would be the same.

    “The most important factor is to build a brand and to know how to speak to your audience,” Lafuente said. “I still think that advertising is the main investment and that to opt for other investments, you first have to cultivate your product and your audience.”

    Spanish media experts seemed to agree that despite Soitu’s innovative design, its business plan was woefully shortsighted.

    “Soitu was a great spectacle, but it wasn’t a realistic spectacle,” said Concha Edo, a journalism professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the author of several studies on the impact of the Internet on the media in Spain.

    In the Spanish press, Soitu was elegized like a beloved politician who had died an untimely death. An editorial about the site’s closure in Spanish newspaper ABC was titled “Requiem for an example of creativity.” El País described Soitu’s collapse as the end of “one of the first completely digital media projects in Spain.”

    For Lafuente, there will be other opportunities to experiment. In January he was appointed managing editor of El País, where he oversees elpais.com.

    “We knew we were doing something new and therefore risky with Soitu,” Lafuente said. “But that was the goal — to do something different.”

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