2009 Online Journalism Awards

Launched in May 2000, the OJAs are administered by the Online News Association, in partnership with the University of Miami's School of Communication.

Following are the winners, by category, with judges' comments and links to the entries.

 

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Knight Award for Public Service
The Chauncey Bailey Project
This entry required work within the community and led directly to the indictment of two men, an investigation of the Oakland Police Department and the resignation of the Chief of Police. The reporting is good and relentless under what were obviously and literally dangerous circumstances. The reporters didn't shy away from exposing both criminals and police. The Chauncey Bailey Project is absolutely exemplary — a type of investigation that we wish more organizations could pursue. Its role is necessary, the reporting great.

Gannett Foundation Award for Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism
Publish2
Publish2's mission and unique tools encourage the spirit of open information and effectively fosters collaboration between teams of journalists and readers. Its link publishing widgets and easy-to-use in-browser tools are designed to fit cohesively into time-pressed journalists' work days.

General Excellence in Online Journalism, Micro Site
Gotham Gazette
The site is exemplary in its thoroughness, comprehensiveness and the depth with which it explored the issues that are important to New Yorkers and New York. The quality of the games is impressive, as is the depth of interactive features it offers. Overall, it was a top-notch example of the trend toward hyperlocal coverage.

General Excellence in Online Journalism, Small Site
ProPublica
Here is a vision of what journalism can be as private enterprise fails to support it. ProPublica presents outstanding investigative work integrating original reporting with citizen journalism, graphic explanations and interactive tools. ProPublica helps other journalists do better work, too, by providing ideas, stories, data and tools. Very rich site, dense with information and a million ways to get into a story, from sortable databases to blogs, stories, graphics and photos. The inventive ways they parse and discover information using scraping, databasing and other web tools are great.

General Excellence in Online Journalism, Medium Site
LasVegasSun.com
One word kept springing to mind and that was meticulous. You click into the site and you see many things worthy of wonder. The home page changes all the time. They can do fairly sophisticated things with these stories. The details are good: related story links that are actually related. You sometimes slide your mouse of a photo and it becomes alive. They've done some amazing projects. They have loyal commentors. Their mobile site is remarkable as well.

General Excellence in Online Journalism, Large Site
nytimes.com, The New York Times
The New York Times stands above others. What I like about the way they use technology is that they are really thinking about their readers. The content is superb. The elegance of their photo editing stands out. In the digital area they are more innovative than others. IN terms of execution, in terms of content, in terns of just about everything you can think about, these guys hit it. When I consider general excellence I consider every department on that site. There's no question about it to me, the New York Times comes out on top.

 General Excellence in Online Journalism, Non-English, Small Site
Radio Azattyq, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Kazakh Service (Kazakhstan)
Good original journalism and tenacity of purpose marked out RFE/RL's Kazakh Service as worthy winners of the non-English small site award.Both were in evidence when Kazazh authorities tried to ban a book critical of the President, threatening to punish anyone who even touched it.Radio Azattyq's local site stood in defense of citizens' rights to seek and receive information, and eventually forced the authorities to back down.

 

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General Excellence in Online Journalism, Non-English, Large Site
SOITU.ES (Spain)
This Spanish site clinched the small site award last year, its first year of operation, and it continues to go from strength to strength.An underlying philosophy of sharing, linking and audience-focused engagement runs through its mix of original content and aggregated news and features material. Giveaway widgets, the ambitious flashinfo news panel and the elselector crowd-aided aggregation tool all get front-page billing.But the site is more than just these elements. It's a work-in-progress, where core ideas come through as confident innovation and mesh with traditional journalism to create a fresh and distinctive package.

 

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Breaking News, Small Site
Pressconnects.com/Press & Sun-Bulletin, Massacre on Front Street
This was clearly a huge story and they pounced on it. The interactive graphics showed what happened where and when. They did this very important story justice — as thorough as you could expect under the circumstances.

Breaking News, Medium Site
Knoxnews.com, Church Shooting
What Knoxnews.com put together in its first day of coverage of a church shooting was thorough breaking-news coverage at its best. The Web site's reporting teams get online coverage. They merged text reporting with extensive video interviews of key individuals, the son of a victim and the neighbor of the suspected killer, among others.
 

V I D E O   S P O T L I G H T

Breaking News, Large Site
BBC News, Mumbai Attacks
A breaking news blog should be a one-stop shop and this was it. It quotes a lot of primary source information; there are comments in the hundreds on every single post. An unassuming-looking but engaging blog that covers many different things and covers it well.

Specialty Site Journalism, Small Site
Yale Environment 360
Such a well-done site. It has this great design and high-quality contributors. When you read the comments, you know the incredibly knowledgeable audience is totally engaged with the site. It's a nice place to be and learn. Yale 360 does multiple things in parallel. It is news; it is opinion; it is community engagement. It is taking debate to a higher level and this is so needed in the journalism community now.

Specialty Site Journalism, Large Site
Military Times, Army Times Publishing Company
This site is cleanly designed and easy to navigate. It has a unique challenge in that it does serve a community, but not one with a geographic centre — the type of challenge for which the Internet is perfect. This is a virtual meeting place for people in the military, where they can catch up on news of professional and personal interest, exchange stories and advice, and honor their colleagues and their service. The special sites noted are quite well done, easy to navigate and full of specialized information that makes the overall site of even greater value to the reader.

Investigative Journalism, Small Site
The Chauncey Bailey Project
A tenacious and precise investigation of an institutional scandal that focuses on the murder of a journalist but explains much more about the community that created the conditions for his death. An exceptionally written and presented package. Strong photojournalism and timeline storytelling techniques. Outstanding ongoing effort two years hence.

Investigative Journalism, Large Site
Tom Lasseter and Matt Schofield, McClatchy, Guantanamo: Beyond the Law
Some real "gets" here with dramatic on the record stuff that we now know is true. It shows you the main characters, gives you some sense of the chronology and lets the reader see how they came to the conclusion they did. A fairly rich project and a hell of a job. One cannot write this story too much.

Multimedia Feature Presentation, Small Site
National Film Board of Canada, Waterlife
Gorgeous. Crazy good. Stunning. User experience is unlike anything we've seen. They threw in, in an organized way, the kitchen sink on this project and succeeded in presenting an innovative and informative look at the issue of water. There is multi-dimensional, multiple media story-telling going on here. Heads and tails above the rest.

Multimedia Feature Presentation, Medium Site
LasVegasSun.com, Quenching Las Vegas' Thirst
There's an awesome coordination between map points, graphics and video. That's innovation. They built a heat map of residential water use that's remarkable. Las Vegas put it all together.

Multimedia Feature Presentation, Large Site
Washington Post Digital, Sacred Ground: The Building of the Pentagon Memorial
Once you start exploring, it's a great piece. It has depth because it lets you explore not only the site, but how it was planned, how it was built via interviews with the architects and a 3D walkthrough. It works very well at different levels. Excellent use of the technologies and the tools.

Online Topical Reporting/Blogging, Small Site
The Flame Trench, Florida Today's Space Team Blog
These guys won for their space coverage last year — and it's quite a bit better since then. They've added a blog along with live video and text coverage of events. And the site organizes, covers, filters it and links to the blog in a way that makes it meaningful.

 

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Online Topical Reporting/Blogging, Large Site
NPR.org, Planet Money
Planet Money provided a distinct value to a community of readers at a time when clear reporting on the financial crisis was just vital. A lot of people were looking for and needed this information. The inaugural post that kicked off Planet Money was a feat of explanatory reporting. It stood out in an excellent field by the value it provided.

Online Commentary/Blogging, Small Site
No Award

Online Commentary/Blogging, Medium Site
Christopher Buckley, The Daily Beast
May have written the most important blog entry of 2008: "Sorry Dad, I'm voting for Obama." One of the key moments of the U.S. Presidential campaign. This walked the fine line between commentary and traditional blogging. Terrific writing. There was a use on occasion of photos, links to video — adding another level. But the writing is what puts some of what he's doing in a different category. He is bringing great writing "chops" to this format and figuring out how to write for it.

Online Commentary/Blogging, Large Site
Hero Complex, Los Angeles Times
Elegantly executed. It's an extremely well-rounded perspective on pretty much everything covered, taking a mass popular culture subject and going very deeply into the subject. The blog helps you discover things.

 

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Outstanding Use of Digital Technologies, Small Site
Muckety
This is impressive from a technical standpoint. Even if I can understand how these diagrams were built, it impresses me that they can be manipulated, expanded, contracted, saved, centered, trimmed, etc. at this level. Wow. Not only does this site's technology produce cutting-edge and relevant journalism, but it allows you to do the same.

Outstanding Use of Digital Technologies, Large Site
The New York Times, Interactive Graphics
Super groundbreaking. Head and shoulders above the rest. Election widgets everywhere were good last year. The New York Times' was extra good. The Olympics graphics really brought me into it. I am not a sports fan but I watched it over and over again. There's nothing that compares to it.

Online Video Journalism, Small Site
Danny Wilcox Frazier, Produced by MediaStorm, Driftless: Stories from Iowa
This is a stark, black-and-white tale of an Iowa family of farmers. It feels extremely original, the camera work seems expert and the interviews will break your heart while never lingering on any one expression or sentiment. There's a richness, restraint and even a little dark humor here that was nowhere in any of the other videos.

Online Video Journalism, Large Site
Slate V, The Power Recap
Very funny expression of presidential campaign highlights, built entirely on selection of key moments in stills and video and then blending them in a frenetic editing style that works to create the "viral video" formula. It is an interesting commentary experiment offering the kind of analysis that cannot ordinarily be found in straight journalistic reporting by newspapers.

 

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Community Collaboration
Next Door Media, My Ballard
My Ballard is exactly what newspapers are trying to do with hyperlocal content. And these guys do it. There was no site that fulfills the sense of community collaboration better. It's the literal definition of the category. It's extremely useful for the neighborhood and because it lists cool places to go, it works for others.

Student Journalism, Small Team
Lisa Pickoff-White, University of California, Berkeley, It Happens at Midnight
Creative; and had a lot of stuff going on. It's fun it's entertaining, it's creative.The design, tools and interactivity are even better than the basic report told, so that elevates it as a fine example of how to tell an online story in multiple components.

Student Journalism, Large Team
UNC-Chapel Hill, Andaman Rising
Beautiful job with photographic storytelling. A very nice project that many a professional organization would be proud to have on their site.

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