2015 OJAs: New awards for students, sports

By on May 7, 2015

by Joshua Hatch, OJA Chair and ONA Board Vice President

We are excited to announce our 2015 Online Journalism Awards, with 37 categories and $60,000 in prize money. Building on 15 years of digital journalism excellence, this year we’ll honor work in three new categories: Pro-Am Student journalism, Sports journalism and our previously announced James Foley Award for Conflict Reporting.

As we’ve seen with our Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, J-schools are finding inventive ways to adapt to the rapid pace of change in our industry. One proven method has been to immerse students in the real-world media environment. For that reason, we’ve created the new Pro-Am grouping for our Student category, designed to honor work done by students in an academic environment who receive compensation from, support from or collaborate with a professional outlet (interns at professional news organizations are not eligible).

Not surprisingly, one of our most popular categories has been Feature journalism, but we’ve found this can become a catch-all for entries that don’t fit neatly into other categories. A large portion of Feature entries have centered on terrific coverage of sports or sporting events, including the World Cup and the Olympics. This year we’ve created a Sports category for small, medium and large news outlets to separately honor this work, at the same time allowing us to more finely focus the Feature category.

Finally, this year we also inaugurate the James Foley Award for Conflict Reporting. As we said in announcing the creation of this award last September at the banquet ending the 2014 Online News Association Conference, journalists are increasingly under threat as they cover conflicts — whether domestic street protests or international war zones — putting themselves in danger for days, months or years to tell the stories we need to hear. That is exactly what Jim was doing when he was murdered in 2014, and it is work like his that this award will honor.

This September at ONA15, we will announce the first recipient of the award, as selected by a committee led by Phil Balboni, Jim’s colleague and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Post, and ONA Board member and past president Jim Brady, CEO of Spirited Media.

We’re looking forward to seeing your work, and celebrating it at the Online News Association Conference and Awards in Los Angeles.


Joshua is actively involved in exploring the potential of online journalism to cover the news and inform the public in new and innovative ways. In his career he’s produced numerous packages that take advantage of the online platform, from election-based games to data-driven interactives, to narrative storytelling. At The Chronicle of Higher Education, he leads a team of data reporters, designers and developers to create data-driven interactive stories and multimedia narratives.

Jane McDonnell

As executive director, Jane oversees and manages the day-to-day operations of the world’s largest membership organization of digital journalists, working closely with the Board of Directors. Her purview includes membership, partnerships, global community outreach, budgeting and revenue generation, fundraising and development, the Online Journalism Awards, and providing vision for ONA’s state-of-the-art annual conference.