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Top story
Posted: September 13, 2008 10:35 PM
Newest Online Journalism Award category won by ELPAIS.com and Soitu.es

(WASHINGTON, D.C. Sept. 13) -- ELPAIS.com and Soitu.es, both based in Spain, won the inaugural General Excellence awards for non-English language sites in the 2008 Online Journalism Awards.

The Oregonian took the honors for Online Video Presentation, another new category. WashingtonPost.com won the third year of the Knight Public Service prize.

Army Times, the Las Vegas Sun and CNN won the awards in the English language General Excellence categories. The Gannett Foundation sponsored all five General Excellence Awards for this year, adding a $1,000 cash prize for each winner.

The Knight Award for Public Service honors digital journalism that produces compelling coverage of a vital issue and engages a geographic community. Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the award carries a $5,000 prize.

The Online Journalism Awards, emblematic of the best in online journalism, were handed out by the Online News Association (ONA) at its annual conference at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Sept 13.

Following are the categories, winners, judges' comments and links to the winning entries.

Knight Award for Public Service: WashingtonPost.com, Fixing D.C. Schools
"The winning entry is an excellent package that focuses on a specific issue of tremendous importance to the community. A very strong investigation, very well-written stories, and obviously a matter of great public import. If I was a parent in Washington DC I would be studying this."

General Excellence, Small Site: ArmyTimes.com
"The winner clearly knows its audience, speaks to it honestly and helps it speak to itself. It is relentlessly helpful, packed with news and information that focuses on the needs of its users. What it gets back is an engaged community."

General Excellence, Medium Sites: LasVegasSun.com
"A winner with an impressive visual approach to journalism that helped them stand out as being a little bit different and very strong. One of the best newspaper Web sites I have seen, with high quality multimedia content that is integral to the site, not an afterthought or secondary element."

General Excellence, Large Site: CNN.com
"A site that made substantial changes in the past year, making it one of the more dynamic destinations out there. One that takes user content seriously and integrates it into the whole, opening a new era of networked content. One judge predicted "everyone will copy it."'

General Excellence (Non-English), Small Site: Soitu.es
"The winner is a brilliant example of the new, smaller independent online news, information and community sites. It balances rigorous journalism with the most innovative application of Web 2.0 practices, all packaged in a gorgeous design with unique attention to small touches of navigational genius."

General Excellence (Non-English), Large Site: ELPAIS.com
"The winner sets the benchmark by which others are measured. On a bedrock of first-class journalism it has built a brilliant suite of infographics that are rich in information, yet easy to consume. The site is a shining example of how traditional media can blossom in the digital arena."

Breaking News, Medium Sites: STLtoday.com, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kirkwood shootings
"The winner's coverage stands out. They sent people out immediately and put together a nice collection of multimedia. That included an impressive piece of multimedia for them to toss together in a relatively quick period of time when they were still trying to figure out exactly what happened."

Breaking News, Large Sites: NYTimes.com, Eliot Spitzer's resignation
"The winner 'hit it out of the park.' The winner could have held the story but chose not to. They broke the story on the Web and used the Web to keep it going. They used the tools. For almost an entire news cycle nobody else had anything. It was a remarkable story remarkably handled."

Investigative Journalism, Small Site: RecordOnline.com, The Times Herald Record (Middletown, N.Y.) "I Didn't Do That Murder": Lebrew Jones and the death of Micki Hall
"The winning entry was a very impressive piece of pure reporting in a classic genre of investigative journalism. It was a genre reinvented and re-architected for the digital age."

Investigative Journalism, Large Site: DallasNews.com, The Dallas Morning News, Unequal Justice, and The Globe and Mail, Talking to the Taliban
"The Dallas Morning News entry dug under the surface of conventional wisdom, asked why is this happening and put a face on the problem - what an investigative piece is all about. It was effecting, effective and well produced."

"The Globe and Mail took a simple idea, asked one of those obvious questions that never quite get asked and put together an impressive package that couldn't have worked in any other medium."

Multimedia Feature, Small Site: GEO.fr, Hidden World
"The winning entry was one of the best examples of connecting a lot of deep, rich content into one fluid experience. It was clear and crisp and addicting. "

Multimedia Feature, Medium Sites: STLtoday.com, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Reporting for Duty
"The winning entry was a really strong presentation with incredible video, great use of ambient sound and nice touches such as shareable photos and a You Tube channel for the video."

Multimedia Feature, Large Site: Reuters.com/MediaStorm, Bearing Witness
"The winner showed the best combination of strong content and compelling presentation. The entry worked on several different levels and made you want to go back and see it again."

Online Commentary, Small Site: Mark Fiore, MarkFiore.com, animated political cartoons
"The winner is pretty funny. He engages his users and his users respond in text and sound, promoting the whole concept of discussion. He takes up different issues, and he does it every week."

Online Commentary, Medium Sites: The Bottom Line, DallasNews.com, The Dallas Morning News
"The winner presented a different way to tell a story with a very strong opinion and with photos that fit among the legendary images in the photographic canon of American journalism."

Online Commentary, Large Site: God-O-Meter, Beliefnet.com
"The winner gives a voice to an increasingly hot topic - religion in politics - and tackles it in interesting ways."

Online Video Presentation: OregonLive.com, The Oregonian, Living to the End
"The winner was just fantastic. It had all the elements. There wasn't a better way to communicate something this important."

Outstanding Use of Digital Technology, Small Sites: Everyblock.com
"The winner simply was one of the most interesting things that have happened on the Web in the last year. They blew it out."

Outstanding Use of Digital Technology, Large Site: DesMoinesRegister.com, Iowa Caucuses
"The winning entry was cited for the enormity of the undertaking with a relatively small staff. The execution was outstanding. They did a phenomenal job speaking to their audience."

Specialty Site Journalism: WebMD
"The winner offers up so much information but you can still find your way around it. The depth of that information is unprecedented. It has a strong grasp of its topic, authoritative reports and helpful tools."

Student Journalism: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill & Universidad de los Andes, South of Here, and Taylor Hayden, Western Kentucky University, Closer to Home: A Daughter Becomes Caregiver
"UNC-Chapel Hill and Universidad de los Andes won with excellent journalism, stunning photography, creative navigation, elegant structure, refreshing and enlightening content, all superbly executed technically."

"Taylor Hayden at Western Kentucky put together a wonderful intimate portrait of a daughter and her parents with well-done video, still imagery within and a spare design that works well for the project."

Topical Reporting, Small Sites: Azstarnet.com, Arizona Daily Star, Immigration in the Spotlight
"The winner brought together all the best elements in a project that was newsworthy, impressive in its aims, showing commitment to a topic vital within and beyond the immediate community."

Topical Reporting, Large Sites: USAToday.com, Today in the Sky
"The winner was on top of what's happening, giving users the tools they need, truly covering what's beyond the normal."

The finalists and the winners were selected through a two-step process. First, a group of more than 100 journalists screened and ranked the close to 800 entries in each category. The OJA judges, journalists with extensive experience in new media, review the nominees and select the finalists and winners. The judges follow a strict recusal policy, leaving the judging room during discussions and not voting in any category in which their own sites came up for review.

The judges for the 2008 English language awards were: Scott Anderson, online media consultant; Meredith Artley, Executive Editor, LATimes.com; Lane Beauchamp, Managing Editor, CBS Television Stations Digital Media Group (cbslocal.com); John Bolton, Online Editor, Arizona Daily Star (azstarnet.com); Curt Chandler, Senior Lecturer, Penn State University (psu.edu); Jeff Dionise, Design Director, USAToday.com; Jon Dube, Vice President of ABCNews.com; Rick Jaroslovsky, Executive Editor, Bloomberg News; John Swansburg, Associate Editor, Slate.com; Jonathan Weber, Publisher and CEO, NewWest.net; Sarah Wright, Assistant Managing Editor of Multimedia, Yahoo! News (Yahoo.com).

Judges for the non-English awards were: Paul Brannan, Editor, Emerging Platforms, BBC.com; Eric Scherer, Director of Strategic Planning, Agence-France Presse; Katie King, Creative and Development Editor, MSN UK; and Rosental Alves, Professor & Knight Chair in Journalism, University of Texas at Austin, School of Journalism.

The Online News Association is composed largely of professional online journalists, with more than 1,600 members whose principal livelihood involves gathering or producing news for digital presentation. The membership includes news writers, producers, designers, editors, photographers, bloggers 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 John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes journalism excellence worldwide and invests in the vitality of the U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950 the foundation has granted more than $400 million to advance journalism quality and freedom of expression. Knight Foundation focuses on ideas and projects that create transformational change.

The Gannett Foundation is a corporate foundation sponsored by Gannett Co., Inc. whose mission is to invest in the future of the communities in which Gannett does business, and in the future of our industry. It supports projects that take a creative approach to fundamental issues such as education and neighborhood improvement, economic development, youth development, community problem-solving, assistance to disadvantaged people, environmental conservation and cultural enrichment.

For further information contact:
Sherry Skalko
Editor, Journalists.org
Online News Association


Back to 2008 conference page
Mark your calendar now for the 2008 Annual Conference and Awards Banquet, Sept. 11-13, Capital Hilton, Washington, DC

Questions about membership, registration or sponsorship opportunities? E-mail Acting Executive Director Tom Regan.

Questions about conference lineup or volunteering? E-mail Conference Co-Chairs Amy Webb or Tiffany Shackelford.

The 2008 Online News Association Conference is the premier conference for those who work in, or have an interest in, online media and news.

The Online Journalism Awards have become the top awards in online journalism. Each year a distinguished panel of judges selects the very best work in nine different categories to be honored at the awards. The OJA Banquet is the event where the awards are presented, and the winners are honored for their efforts.

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