Entries open for 2012 Online Journalism Awards; categories updated

By on May 21, 2012

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 2012 Online Journalism Awards, emblematic of the best in digital journalism.

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Ten awards come with a total of nearly $33,000 in prize money, courtesy of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Gannett Foundation, including three $2,500 awards for innovative investigative work.

This year, ONA introduced changes to keep pace with rapid innovations in the field.

“Since its inception in 2000, the OJAs have recognized major media, international and independent sites and individuals producing innovative work in multimedia storytelling,” said Joshua Hatch, OJA chair. “Over that time, we’ve witnessed incredible innovation in the tools and techniques journalists have used to tell their stories. Not only are journalists publishing content on the web, but they’re making interactive applications, mobile apps, tools and more. We need to make sure the awards reflect that innovation.”

Changes include:

New expectations: Excellence has always been the barometer for determining OJA winners, and this year is no exception. With the introduction of social media, mobile applications and integrated multimedia, readers and ONA judges expect successul entrants in every category to creatively use what digital platforms have to offer as they relate to the entry.

New categories: Rather than honor specific technologies or storytelling tools and risk lagging the innovative front edge, categories have been crafted to break out content by topic and to honor work that best leverages digital platforms.

New metrics: To better sort organizations, entrants are being separated by the size of their editorial staffs rather than by unique visitors. This will more accurately capture the resources an organization has available. For an entrant to be considered “small,” the number of staff dedicated to editorial efforts must be fewer than 25 full-time employees; for medium, more than 25 FTEs, but fewer than 100 FTEs; for large, more than 100 FTEs.

Partnerships: If a project is the product of a partnership of two or more organizations, entrants must use the combined number of FTEs of the partner organizations as the guideline.

Student: Students are welcome to submit work to any category. However, to be considered for a student award, the entire project must have been produced only by enrolled and uncompensated students receiving academic credit for the work being entered. (Scholarships are not considered compensation.) Students can be full- or part-time; graduate, undergraduate or high school students. Work produced for pay, either for a professional media organization or through a grant of other client, should be entered in the appropriate professional category. Entrants must check a box affirming the work was done by students and explain any professional or professorial involvement.

Deadlines: The 2012 OJAs are open to work published between June 16, 2011, and June 15, 2012. Applicants are invited to submit their work at journalists.org until Thursday, June 21, 2012, at 11:59 p.m. ET in the following categories.

Judging: The finalists and the winners will be selected through a 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, 12 of those judges will meet to select winners at the University of Miami under the auspices of the School of Communication.

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 ONA12, the Online News Association Conference and Awards Banquet, Sept. 20-22, at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco.

For the complete list of 2011 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 forward-thinking, analytical and responsible communication professionals for success in a global society. The School offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in advertising, cinema, communication studies, interactive media, journalism and public relations, with a total current enrollment of approximately 1100 students and 58 full-time faculty members.


Jennifer Mizgata

Jennifer Mizgata is Director of Programs at the Online News Association, where she leads the Women's Leadership Accelerator. At ONA, Jennifer focuses on identifying talented digital journalists and innovative journalism projects and providing them with support. Jennifer is a business and design strategist with over a decade of experience creating industry-changing training programs, investing in award-winning projects, and managing key relationships with journalism partners and tech stakeholders. She regularly coaches managers, senior leaders and entrepreneurs on challenges related to their careers and launching new ventures. Jennifer shares advice for navigating tough work challenges in Work Space, a monthly column for Fortune.