August 15, 2016

2016 Online Journalism Awards finalists announced

$53,500 in prize money on the line for 12 awards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Finalists for the 2016 Online Journalism Awards, representing a wide range of nonprofit, public, academic, major media and emerging technology organizations from around the globe, were announced today by the Online News Association.

Twelve of the awards now come with $53,500 in prize money, courtesy of Knight Foundation, the Gannett Foundation and the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. These awards honor data journalism, visual digital storytelling, investigative journalism, public service, technical innovation, student journalism and general excellence.

This year’s awards reflect a deeper consideration of how newsrooms engage their audiences, focusing on the emerging prevalence of new digital tools, distribution channels and content platforms. The second James Foley Award for Conflict Reporting will again honor one of the many journalists reporting under the most challenging conditions; a special committee will select the recipient.

“The range of this year’s finalists is truly remarkable,” said David Smydra, ONA Board member and Online Journalism Awards Committee Chair. “In so many respects — newsroom size, geography, subject matter, platform, technology, storytelling techniques and more — judges were extremely impressed by the full scope and achievements of digital journalists across the industry.”

A group of 76 industry-leading journalists and new media professionals teamed up to screen 1,029 entries and select semi-finalists. Twenty judges representing a diverse cross-section of the industry then conferred to determine finalists and winners.

The winners will be announced at the 2016 ONA Conference and Online Journalism Awards Banquet on Saturday, Sept. 17, in Denver.

The finalists, many of whom push the envelope of innovation and excellence in digital storytelling and distribution, are:

Breaking News, Medium
Breaking News, Large
Breaking News, Small

No finalists

Planned News/Events, Small
Planned News/Events, Medium
Planned News/Events, Large
Explanatory Reporting, Small
Explanatory Reporting, Medium
Explanatory Reporting, Large
Topical Reporting, Small
Topical Reporting, Medium
Topical Reporting, Large
Online Commentary
Sports, Small
Sports, Medium
Sports, Large
Feature, Small
Feature, Medium
Feature, Large
The David Teeuwen Student Journalism Award, Small
The David Teeuwen Student Journalism Award, Large
Pro-Am Student Award
  • America’s Weed Rush, Carnegie-Knight News21 Initiative, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University
  • Bridging Selma, Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication and West Virginia University Reed College of Media
  • Return to Chernobyl, NYU Journalism – Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and FRONTLINE
  • Out of the Shadows, UBC Graduate School of Journalism
The University of Florida Award for Investigative Data Journalism, Small/Medium
The University of Florida Award for Investigative Data Journalism, Large
Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Small
Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Medium
Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Large
Gannett Foundation Award for Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism
The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Small
The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Medium
The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Large
Knight Award for Public Service
General Excellence in Online Journalism, Small
General Excellence in Online Journalism, Medium
General Excellence in Online Journalism, Large

The judges for finalists were:

  • Matt Carroll, Future of News, MIT Media Lab
  • Katelin Chow, Digital Journalist, NPR Code Switch
  • Jenn Chang Crandall, Artist-in-Residence, Alabama Media Group
  • Kenan Davis, Head of Interactive, Guardian US
  • Meghann Farnsworth, Engagement Editor, Recode
  • Priya Ganapati, Product Director, Quartz
  • Mónica Guzmán, Seattle-based journalist & 2016 Nieman Fellow
  • Joshua Hatch, Assistant Managing Editor, Data and Interactives, The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Chronicle of Philanthropy
  • Robert Hernandez, Associate Professor of Professional Practice, USC Annenberg School of Journalism
  • Liz Heron, Executive Editor, Huffington Post
  • Rich Jaroslovsky, Vice President for Content, SmartNews, Inc.
  • S. Mitra Kalita, VP Programming, CNN
  • Martin Kotynek, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, ZEIT ONLINE
  • Jacqui Maher, Interactive Journalist, BBC News Labs
  • Miguel Paz, distinguished lecturer in Data Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, founder of Poderopedia
  • Rhyne Piggott, Assistant Professor of Journalism, Middle Tennessee State University.
  • Robert Quigley, Innovation Director and Senior Lecturer, University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism
  • Nabil Wakim, Director, Editorial Innovation, Le Monde
  • Sisi Wei, News Applications Developer, ProPublica
  • Anita Zielina, Editor-in-Chief New Products, NZZ, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung

*Judges were recused from discussing categories in which their own organizations were entered.

Launched in 2000, the OJAs are the only comprehensive set of journalism prizes honoring excellence in digital journalism.

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
knight-logo-300Knight 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
gannett-foundationThe 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
university-of-florida-cjcThe 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. The college includes seven broadcast and digital media properties and the nation’s only chair in public interest communications.