The call for entries for the 2016 Online Journalism Awards is now open, and we couldn’t be more excited.
With 35 categories and $53,500 in prize money, the awards honor the finest examples of digital journalism across the industry, whether from a major newsroom, a classroom or at a small start-up. Over the past 16 years, the OJAs have been unique in recognizing how journalists are pushing the limits of new technologies and digital tools to better inform their audiences.
For the 2016 OJAs, we want to go even further. New content platforms, messaging apps and immersive technologies such as VR have redefined distribution, social media and storytelling. Great online journalism has moved far beyond an organization’s website and the OJAs reflect this reality. So we’ve updated the language throughout our category guidelines to encourage submissions for work performed on a broader range of new platforms and emerging media.
We’ve also tried to signal a greater emphasis on efforts made to include the audience throughout the reporting and storytelling process to help us move beyond the newsroom tendency of reporting within a bubble, or talking at the audience. At its best, digital journalism resembles a thoughtful, informed, passionate conversation between journalists and the audience, empowering both sides and driving them toward a greater understanding of a major event, breaking news or an important subject or issue.
In other words: If you’ve worked on a great piece of reporting or storytelling that doesn’t fit the conventional mold, we hope you will consider submitting your work for an OJA.
Our Student award now comes with a $1,000 cash award in the Small and Large categories, thanks to the Gannett Foundation, and has been renamed in honor of the late USA TODAY Managing Editor, David Teeuwen. We’re delighted to be able to encourage and support young journalists in David’s name.
We have also made a small housekeeping change in one category. We will give a single award for Online Commentary rather than identify winners in three size tiers. This change results from lower submission numbers for this category in past years, as well as our observation that great journalistic commentary does not closely depend on a reporter’s resources or size of newsroom.
Last, we are proud to give out the James Foley Award for Conflict Reporting for the second consecutive year. This honor will recognize a single journalist who has performed exceptional work while covering an ongoing conflict, war zone or other challenging setting. The recipient will be chosen by a committee that includes our 2015 honoree, photographer Cengiz Yar.
We’re looking forward to seeing your work, and sharing and celebrating it Sept. 17 at the Online News Association Conference and Awards in Denver.