Friday, March 27, 2009

2009 Online Journalism Awards Open for Entries

The Online News Association, the world's largest membership organization of digital journalists, and the University of Miami's School of Communication today opened their call for entries for the 2009 Online Journalism Awards (OJAs), emblematic of the best in online journalism.

This year, ONA has introduced changes to acknowledge the important role of emerging technology, the influence of the independent digital journalist and the growth of community reporting efforts. Six awards now come with a total of $30,000 in prize money, courtesy of the Gannett Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the General Excellence in Online Journalism Award has expanded to include "micro sites."

The OJAs are the only comprehensive set of journalism prizes honoring excellence in digital journalism. Past winners have included major media, international and independent sites and individuals producing innovative work in multimedia storytelling. This year's honorees will be announced on the final night of ONA09, the Online News Association Conference and Awards Banquet, Oct. 1-3 in San Francisco.

The OJAs are open to work first published between June 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009. Applicants are invited to enter their submissions at, until June 30, in one or more of the following categories:

The Gannett Foundation Award for Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism: This new category, with a prize of $5,000, honors a person or company, journalistic in focus or not, that has built a digital tool significantly enhancing the practice of online journalism.

The Knight Award for Public Service: Recognizes digital journalism that performs a public service for a geographic community through compelling coverage of a vital community issue or event; one $5,000 award.

General Excellence in Online Journalism: Honors a Web site in each of four size categories, plus two from the non-English speaking community, which successfully fulfill their editorial mission, effectively serve their audience, maximize the use of the Web's characteristics and represent the highest journalistic standards. For the first time, ONA has introduced a micro site category to encourage small-scale efforts. The award is $3,000 for each winner, funded by the Gannett Foundation.

Breaking News: Honors digital coverage over a 72-hour period of a breaking-news event or development.
Specialty Site Journalism: Recognizes niche Web sites that focus on a single topic.

Investigative Journalism: Honors stories that uncover major news based on the reporters' own exclusive investigations or that offer compelling and original analysis and interpretation.

Multimedia Feature Presentation: Awards excellence in telling a story to an online audience using multimedia techniques.

Online Topical Reporting/Blogging: Recognizes beat reporting by an individual or team.

Online Commentary/Blogging: Honors a unique and powerful voice of commentary original to the Web.

Community Collaboration Award: A new award recognizing a news project or Web site that produces outstanding journalism through strong interaction with the community being served.

Outstanding Use of Digital Technologies: Recognizes achievement by a site in the use of digital techniques to tell a story and serve a community.

Online Video Journalism: Awards excellence in online-originated video journalism.

Student Journalism: Honors digital journalism by a student or team reporting on a single story or issue.

The winners are selected through a two-step process. First, a group of more than 100 journalists screen and rank the entries in each category. In August, a panel of industry-leading journalists and new media professionals judge finalists and select winners at the University of Miami under the auspices of the School of Communication.

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 analytical and responsible communication professionals for success in a global society. The School offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in journalism, broadcasting, advertising, public relations, visual journalism, communication studies and motion pictures. The School's state of the art, all-digital facilities and resources are among the most advanced in the country. Approximately 1,500 students are enrolled.

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 more information, contact:

Jane McDonnell, Executive Director
Online News Association