Online Journalism Award Winners Announced for 2001

Posted on November 2, 2001

The winners for the second annual Online Journalism Awards (OJAs) were announced by the Online News Association (ONA) and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism at the ONA annual conference in Berkeley. A list of the winners and finalists in each of the eight categories is provided below, along with a list of the judges.

Rich Jaroslovsky, president of ONA and a senior editor at The Wall Street Journal, said: ``The roster of winners is impressive indeed, reflecting tremendous work done in a very difficult environment. The number of winners and finalists from outside the United States is particularly worth noting. It shows the global reach and power of the online medium -- and reminds us all that journalistic excellence can transcend national boundaries.''

Online Journalism Award Winners

1A. General Excellence in Online Journalism: Independent

WINNER: Slate An online magazine about news, politics, and culture.
The judges called Slate a Web site that's not afraid to take a stand on, and comment on, everything going on in the news. The site has "franchises that people get addicted to, and conceptual scoops every day," said one judge. "It's lively, it's smart, it's provocative, it gets you thinking." Judges also praised the site's color-coded navigation and generally called the site an outstanding example for online news publications.

Finalists, in alphabetical order (only three finalists)
  1. CNET
    A technology news site.

  2. PraxisPost
    An online magazine about the practice and culture of medicine.

  3. Salon
    An online magazine about politics, culture and entertainment.
1B. General Excellence in Online Journalism: Affiliated

WINNER: BBC News Online
A general news site, produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
The judges said BBC's editors do an extraordinary job of re-imagining the news product for this medium, merging their broadcast and online efforts for effective news coverage in both media. Journalists work in multiple media, the stories are written in very readable form with helpful clickable guides, and the offerings are in many languages, the judges said. They break a lot of news and bring a perspective that's unmatched and invaluable.

Finalists, in alphabetical order (five finalists in this category)
    A general news site, produced by Cable News Network.

    A general news site which is a joint venture between NBC News and Microsoft.

    3. The New York Times on the Web<
    The Web version of The New York Times.

    4. The Wall Street Journal Online
    The Web version of The Wall Street Journal.

    The Web version of The Washington Post.
2A. Breaking News: Independent

WINNER: The Gujarat Earthquake
Coverage of Jan. 2001 earthquake in India, which killed 30,000 people. The judges called the coverage incredibly comprehensive, with 12 to 15 stories a day on every angle of this major natural disaster, from the stories of the victims to the physics of the earthquake. It's clear and complete, they said, with interviews, discussions and extensive information on how people in India and abroad could help. And all this on a true breaking news story, with no warning and no opportunity to prepare or plan coverage in advance.

Finalists, in alphabetical order (only three finalists)
  1. Beliefnet: America Considers a Jewish Vice President
    Coverage of Sen. Joseph Lieberman being named Al Gore's vice presidential candidate.

  2. CNET Napster's Day in Court
    Coverage of Feb. 12, 2001, court developments in Napster case, which gave the beleaguered file-swapping service a temporary reprieve.

  3. Slashdot: EFF Files First Anti-DMCA Lawsuit
    Coverage of a lawsuit filed against the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by Electronic Frontier Foundation
2B. Breaking News: Affiliated

WINNER: BBC News Online: Concorde Crash
Coverage of Air France Concorde crash in Paris that killed 113 people on July 25, 2001. The judges said that the BBC's coverage reflected a swift marshaling of resources, extensive and clever graphics, and strong video, audio and photos. The site managed to take a sudden, tragic event and turn out an insightful, well-presented news and analysis package.

Finalists, in alphabetical order
  1. BusinessWeek Online: Boeing Downsizing
    Report on Boeing's plans to shut down a plant and make other changes in its operations.

  2. Canadian Election 2000
    Coverage of 2000 Canadian elections; from (Toronto Globe & Mail.

  3. Jerusalem Post Internet Edition: Israel Decides -- Election 2001 Live Coverage
    Coverage of 2001 Israeli elections that brought Ariel Sharon to power, defeating Ehud Barak.

  4. Cal Ripken Retirement Announcement
    Coverage of the news about the retirement of the legendary Baltimore Oriole.
3A. Enterprise Journalism: Independent

WINNER: Salon: Radio's Big Bully
A series of reports on Clear Channel Communications, the most powerful force in the radio industry. The judges noted the amount of reporting that went into this package and what it revealed about how, years after the radio payola scandals, labels are still finding ways to buy their way onto the air. They described it as a classic piece of enterprise reporting, digging deep into a complex story, uncovering the layers of facts and the relationships that are so important in the radio industry and ultimately uncovering the sometimes questionable practices of a company that determines what many Americans hear.

Finalists, in alphabetical order
  1. Beliefnet: Is Bush's Religious Charity Plan Sinking?
    A look at the opposition by some conservatives to President Bush's faith-based initiatives.

  2. Salon: Gov. Bush's Office Ignored Murder Confession
    A report about then Gov. George W. Bush of Texas and a letter of confession he received.

  3. Slate: Seed -- The Genius Babies & How They Grew
    An in-depth report on a Nobel Prize sperm bank founded by a California industrialist.

  4. WebMD: Jeff's Story
    A first-person account by a medical journalist about surviving brain cancer.
3B. Enterprise Journalism: Affiliated

WINNER: Colombia -- War Without End
A report in English and Spanish about the strife in Colombia.
The judges remarked on the scale of this package, done in both English and Spanish and including a large volume of original writing and photography by CNN reporter Steve Nettleton, work beyond what was done for the TV version. It's a mix of reporting, analysis, reference material, maps, chats and original source material from the various groups fighting in Colombia.

Finalists, in alphabetical order
  1. Toxic Traps
    A report on how government officials at various levels have forced nearly a million American families to live in polluted neighborhoods at taxpayer expense; from Dallas Morning News.

  2. Frontline: Drug Wars
    A report on the 30-year history of the "War on Drugs;" from PBS.

  3. A Taste of Slavery
    A report on the role of modern-day slavery in the chocolate industry; from Knight Ridder Washington.

  4. The Philadelphia Inquirer: Killing Pablo
    A five-week series about the U.S. government's hunt for drug trafficker Pablo Escobar.
4A. Service Journalism: Independent

WINNER: ThemeParkInsider: Accident Watch
A guide to safety at amusement parks across the U.S.
The judges said: Relying on a community of users and the drive of a single journalist working in his spare time, this site offers theme park enthusiasts hard information about safety -- information that the government probably should provide, but doesn't. Accidents are reported simply and factually, and the site makes a clear distinction between rumor and confirmed reports -- especially important when users are the reporters. The judges called it "morbidly fascinating ... and really useful."

Finalists, in alphabetical order
  1. CNET Fired!
    News and resources about and for recently-fired dot-com employees.

  2. GothamGazette: Searchlight 2001
    Guide for last-minute voters in New York City.

  3. Parenting
    Guide for parents of children 2-8.

  4. Guide to Tax Relief Act of 2001
    A site covering the May 2001 tax initiative of President Bush.
4B. Service Journalism: Affiliated

WINNER: PBS: On Our Own Terms -- Moyers on Dying
``End-of-life'' tools and more, based on a PBS program with Bill Moyers.
The judges said: This package, based on a Bill Moyers special TV report, did more than just repurpose a TV show. It became the center of a strong community project tied to the show that could only be done with effective use of the Web. The judges said they found the guide for doctors on how to understand and handle diversity especially compelling. Said one judge: "They pulled it off like nobody else could."

Finalists, in alphabetical order (only three finalists)
  1. HeraldNet: Waterfront Renaissance
    Guide to the development of the waterfront in Everett, Washington; from The Daily Herald.

  2. California's Energy Crisis
    Guide to the energy crisis in California; from the San Francisco Chronicle.

  3. The Wall Street Journal Online: Online Investing -- New Times, New Tools
    Guide to online investing.
5A. Feature Journalism: Independent

WINNER: 20 Years -- AIDS & Photography
A look at how AIDS has been documented by photographs.
Judges called this an outstanding creative use of the medium, a great piece of journalism that could only exist online. The cliche about a picture being worth 1,000 words was never more meaningful, said one judge. Another said, simply, "I was very, very moved by it."

Finalists, in alphabetical order
  1. Salon: Living Under the Hole in the Sky
    A look at how people live in a Chilean city that is under the hole in the ozone layer.

  2. Salon: Bad Blood
    A story about about the West Virginia murder that was more than a simple hate crime.

  3. Wired News: Kozmo Kills the Messenger
    A look at an Internet company on its deathbed.

  4. SportsJones: Being John McEnroe
    A 14-page profile of the infamous tennis star.
5B. Feature Journalism: Affiliated

WINNER: Witness to an Epidemic -- AIDS in the Caribbean
A multimedia, multilingual report on the effect of AIDS in some Caribbean countries. The judges said: This entry really struck a chord, both for its content and for the way it was presented. The writing is brief, intelligent and clear, making great use of photography and providing good access to powerful information. Calling the package "beautiful," the judges noted that it was delivered in two formats, one for low-bandwidth users that's more interactive and one that's narrated, in more of a television documentary style, for those with faster connections. Plus, it was done in three languages: English, Spanish and Creole.

Finalists, in alphabetical order (only three finalists)
  1. The New York Times on the Web: Salsa -- Made in New York
    A look at the origins of salsa music.

  2. John Lennon in New York
    A look at John Lennon's New York years.

  3. The Unfinished War -- A Decade After Desert Storm
    A look at the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War.
6A. Creative Use of the Medium: Independent

WINNER: The U.S. Criminal Justice System
Perspectives on U.S. justice system.
The judges said this site ``humanizes the prison experience'' and provides a "nuanced and moving picture of the lives of people in prison." The creative use starts with the simple navigation, a series of concentric circles that makes it easy to get around. It continues with the extensive audio content that includes transcripts, an "are-you-a-criminal" quiz, timelines, and the offering of Flash and non-Flash sites for users with varied bandwidths. And, true to its name, there's good use of 360-degree photography to tell compelling stories about prisoners and their families.

Finalists, in alphabetical order (only two finalists)
  1. Beliefnet: World Peace Summit
    Site about a global gathering of religious leaders at the United Nations.

  2. CNET Head-on Collision -- Old and New Economies Clash in Auto Industry Marketplace
    Changes in the auto industry.
6B. Creative Use of the Medium: Affiliated

WINNER: Touching Hearts -- A Story of Hope & Help in Nicaragua
A story about a Duke University medical mission to Nicaragua; from The Herald-Sun, Durham, North Carolina.
The judges called this site a daring design, making good use of the ``Ken Burns-style" technique of moving a camera over still photos. The Durham paper covered the story of local Duke University doctors donating their services in Nicaragua as only a local newspaper could, said the judges, and then told that story as only a Web site could. It uses an innovative combination of interactivity, letting the reader click through it, and TV-style presentation where a reader can simply sit back and absorb. Finalists, in alphabetical order
  1. Conflict in the Middle East
    Multimedia report on the Middle East; from Canadian Television

  2. MSNBC: Suviving the Summer Driving Season
    Guide to, and history of, summer driving in the United States.

  3. Rescuing the Right
    A report on efforts to rescue the endangered right whale off Nova Scotia, from the Providence Journal.

  4. The New Frontier, La Nueva Frontera
    A report from along the U.S.-Mexico border.
7A. Innovative Presentation of Information: Independent

WINNER: Yahoo! Finance Vision
Video-centric financial information and news.
The judges said: While others talk about convergence, Yahoo has achieved it with this new delivery platform. It combines traditional television with interactive elements keyed directly to what's being said on the screen and does it all in nearly real time. The judges called it a "neat application of the technology" and one that "raises the bar" for future multiple-media applications.

No finalists were named in this category.

7B. Innovative Presentation of Information: Affiliated

WINNER: Mutual Fund Map
Tool to track mutual fund portfolios.
The judges said: This tool provides a new way of conceiving, managing, displaying and understanding complex information. Millions of people have investments in mutual funds, but few have the understanding that this tool provides ... especially when you consider that the data needed to construct the map changes constantly.

Finalists, in alphabetical order
  1. Mother Jones 400
    Tracking political donations; from Mother Jones magazine.

  2. Crime Tracker
    A tool to track crime statistics, neighborhood by neighborhood; from Tampa Bay Online & WFLA-TV

  3. Census 2000
    In-depth site about 2000 U.S. Census.

  4. Camera Works -- U Street in Focus
    A look at the rebirth of a troubled neighborhood in Washington, D.C.
8. Online Commentary

WINNER: Dahlia Lithwick, Slate
The judges said Lithwick really brings Supreme Court reporting alive, making coverage of a usually staid and serious beat vivid and enlightening, giving the reader a sense of the scene and tone inside the courthouse. Every column makes use of Slate's reader response board, The Fray, to launch a debate about the column topic.

Finalists, in alphabetical order
  1. Dan Ackman,

  2. Dave Coursey, ZDNET

  3. Steve Kettmann, Salon

  4. Kate Swearengen, Princeton Alumni Weekly Online
The Online Journalism Awards were launched in May 2000 as a joint effort of the Online News Association and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. The contest honors excellence in Internet journalism and is open to all English-language Web sites around the world. The Online News Association's mission is to strive for editorial integrity, editorial independence, journalistic excellence, freedom of expression and freedom of access in the online world.