The Wall Street Journal,, Baltimore Sun and BBC News take home 2015 Online Journalism Awards

By on September 27, 2015

LOS ANGELES — Coverage of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the Baltimore riots in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death and the shootings in Canadian Parliament took top honors Saturday night at the 2015 Online Journalism Awards, which ended the Online News Association Conference.

At the 15th annual awards dinner, ONA also announced Cengiz Yar, a documentary photographer and freelance photojournalist who is founding Board member of the Frontline Freelance Registry, as the first recipient of the James Foley Award, honoring work by reporters in conflict zones and named for the Global Post freelancer killed in Syria in August. The late journalist Dori J. Maynard also was honored with the Rich Jaroslovsky Founder Award for her tireless work in promoting diversity in media.

New start-up, the Baltimore Sun and The Globe and Mail dominated the Breaking News categories. The $15,000 University of Florida Awards in Investigative Data Journalism were won by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s deep data dive into tax assessments and the Austin American-Statesman for “Missed Signs, Fatal Consequences,” a look at Texas’ failure to help protect vulnerable children. The newest category, sports, was won by Taffy Brodesser-Akner for Matter on the first all-female cast of ultimate fighters, and The New York Times for its “web-native storytelling” around the World Cup.

Each winner of the three General Excellence Awards — The Washington Post, Quartz ( and KBIA News ( — took home a $6,166 prize, courtesy of the Gannett Foundation. The Knight Award for Public Service, with a $5,000 prize from the Knight Foundation, went to BBC World Service, BBC News for its use of WhatsApp in response to the Ebola crisis. The New York Times won the $5,500 Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism Award for its open-source graphics tool, ai2html.

Here are the winners in each category, with links to their winning entries:

Knight Award for Public Service
BBC WhatsApp Ebola News Service, BBC World Service, BBC News

Breaking News, Small
Charlie Hebdo Real-Time Coverage,

Breaking News, Medium
Baltimore Riots and the Freddie Gray Case, The Baltimore Sun Staff

Breaking News, Large
Ottawa Shooting, The Globe and Mail

General Excellence in Online Journalism, Small, KBIA News

General Excellence in Online Journalism, Medium, Quartz

General Excellence in Online Journalism, Large, The Washington Post

Gannett Foundation Award for Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism 
AI2HTML, The New York Times

Planned News Events, Small
No finalists

Planned News Events, Medium
#MakeAlCare — The Evolution of One Voter, Meghan McCarty, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio

Planned News Events, Large
Election Party!, NPR Visuals

Explanatory Reporting, Small
Undrinkable, Alexa Ura, Neena Satija, Becca Aaronson, Emily Albracht and Ben Hasson, The Texas Tribune

Explanatory Reporting, Medium (Tie)
The 45-Minute Mystery of Freddie Gray’s Death, Kevin Rector, Greg Kohn, Adam Marton, Catherine Rentz, Amy Davis, Kenneth K. Lam and Christopher T. Assaf, The Baltimore Sun

What Does Gun Violence Really Cost?, Mark Follman, Julia Lurie, Jaeah Lee, James West, Mother Jones

Explanatory Reporting, Large (Tie)
Bees at the Brink, Star Tribune

Drugging our Kids, Karen de Sá, Dai Sugano, Paul Baca, Qin Chen, San Jose Mercury News/Bay Area News Group

Topical Reporting, Small
Hurting for Work, Jay Root and The Texas Tribune Staff

Topical Reporting, Medium
The Broken Hip, Lauren Silverman, Eric Aasen, Ryan Tainter, Dane Walters, Jeff Whittington and KERA News Staff

Topical Reporting, Large
A Year of Legal Marijuana, The Denver Post Newsroom

Online Commentary, Small
Dispatches From Syria: Marcell Shehwaro on Life in Aleppo, Marcell Shehwaro, Amira Al Hussaini, Lara AlMalakeh and Georgia Popplewell, Global Voices

Online Commentary, Medium
No Finalist

Online Commentary, Large
Transgender Today Community Page, The New York Times

Feature, Small
The Martian Diaries: What If the Curiosity Rover Kept a Scrapbook?, Science News: Alex Witze, Cori Vanchieri, Federico Castaneda, Stephen Egts, Erin Otwell, Kate Travis

Feature, Medium
Stickup Kid, FRONTLINE

Feature, Large
Beyond the Border, Melissa del Bosque, The Texas Observer, and The Guardian US Interactive Team

Sports, Small
No Finalist

Sports, Medium
Girls Fight Out, Taffy Brodesser-Akner for Matter

Sports, Large
World Cup, The New York Times

Student Projects, Small
Mobile Health: Apps for Every Age and Ouch, Lynne Shallcross, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Student Projects, Large
The Missing, NYCity News Service Staff/CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

Student Projects, Pro-Am
Gun Wars: A News21 Investigation of Rights and Regulations in America, Gun Wars News21 Staff, Arizona State University, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Small
Profiting from Prisoners, Daniel Wagner, Eleanor Bell and Amirah Al Idrus, The Center for Public Integrity

The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Medium
The Dark Side of the Strawberry, Bernice Yeung, Kendall Taggart, Andrew Donohue, Michael Corey & Ariane Wu, The Center for Investigative Reporting

The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Large (Tie)
Evicted and Abandoned: The World Bank’s Broken Promise to the Poor, The Center for Public Integrity’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, The Huffington Post and Media Partners

Insult to Injury: America’s Vanishing Worker Protections, ProPublica and NPR

Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Small
No finalists

Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Medium
Space Business, Quartz: Tim Fernholz, Nikhil Sonnad, David Yanofsky, Sam Williams

Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Large
Markets & Finance Interactive Graphics, The Visuals Staff of The Wall Street Journal

University of Florida Award in Investigative Data Journalism, Small/Medium 
Trouble with Taxes, Raquel Rutledge, Kevin Crowe, Allan James Vestal, Bill Schulz & Erin Caughey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

University of Florida Award in Investigative Data Journalism, Large
Missed Signs, Fatal Consequences: How Texas Missed Deadly Patterns and Key Pieces of Information that Could Have Helped Protect Vulnerable Children, Eric Dexheimer, Andrea Ball, Jeremy Schwartz, Laura Skelding, Kelly West, Andrew Chavez, Gabrielle Muñoz, Eric Webb, Christian McDonald, Austin American-Statesman

2015 Rich Jaroslovsky Founder Award
Dori J. Maynard

The awards ceremony, which was live-streamed directly from the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, will be available for viewing within 24 hours here.

A group of 60 industry-leading journalists and new media professionals, led by ONA Board member and OJA Chair Joshua Hatch, teamed up to screen entrants and select finalists. Fifteen judges, representing a diverse cross-section of the industry, then conferred to determine winners from independent, community, nonprofit, major media, start-up and international news sites.

Launched in 2000, the OJAs are administered by ONA and are the only comprehensive set of journalism prizes honoring excellence in digital journalism, focusing on independent, community, nonprofit, major media and international news sites.

About ONA
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, academics, students and others who produce and distribute news for digital delivery systems. ONA also hosts the annual Online News Association annual conference and administers the Online Journalism Awards.

About Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

About the Gannett Foundation
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.

About the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications
The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications is driving innovation and engagement across the disciplines of advertising, journalism, public relations and telecommunication. The strength of its programs, faculty, students and alumni — in research and in practice — has earned the college ongoing recognition as one of the best in the nation among its peers. The college offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and certificates, both online and on campus. The college’s strength is drawn from both academic rigor and experiential learning. CJC students have the opportunity to gain practical experience in the Innovation News Center, which generates content across multiple platforms, and a strategic communication agency with expertise in targeting messages to millennial audiences. The college includes seven broadcast and digital media properties and the nation’s only chair in public interest communications.

For more information, contact: The Online News Association at

Jeremiah Patterson

Jeremiah Patterson

Jeremiah was ONA's Digital Manager from 2012 to the fall of 2016 and was responsible for ONA's collection of websites, including, conference websites, the membership center, awards platforms and more. Before joining ONA, he served as a web producer and content developer at The Wildlife Society, maintaining the organization’s website, email marketing and other online services. An Ohio native and media enthusiast, Jeremiah grew up with a deep interest in video production and graphic design. He now focuses in user experience and human-centered design.