August 24, 2017

How the OJA17 selection process worked

Online Journalism award trophies prior to the 2016 banquet in Denver. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Online News Association

Following a year of extraordinary news and jaw-dropping digital journalism, the finalists for the 2017 Online Journalism Awards are now set.

A group of 119 industry-leading journalists and new media professionals teamed up to screen 1,166 entries and select semi-finalists. Then 30 judges with backgrounds as varied as data journalism, audio storytelling, academia, local journalism and more, were recruited to review this shortlist to select finalists and winners. Judges reviewed the material for weeks and then held spirited debates during multiple hours of video conference calls to arrive at the selections, which you can see here.

One undeniable theme emerged during judges’ deliberations: It has been an incredible 12-month period for digital journalism. At all levels, in multiple media and from local newsrooms to international outlets, the innovation and energy fueling digital journalism is at an all-time high.

As just one reflection of that fact, new categories joined the OJA roster this year: two awards for Audio Digital Storytelling, and one award for Immersive Storytelling. While journalists in these fields are tapping new creative outlets for storytelling, they are also working within many recognized journalistic standards and approaches. In short, these modes of storytelling are established in the industry and the work deserves to be honored. We can’t wait to see how Audio and Immersive both evolve in years to come.

Thirteen of the awards now come with $58,500 in prize money, courtesy of John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Gannett Foundation, the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications and Journalism 360. These awards honor data journalism, visual digital storytelling, investigative journalism, immersive storytelling, public service, technical innovation, student journalism and general excellence.

The Awards Committee is also delighted to announce that multimedia journalist Tara Todras-Whitehill has been named as the 2017 recipient of the James Foley Award for Conflict Reporting for her amazing coverage of the Middle East. This award honors one journalist annually for reporting under the most challenging conditions and is selected by a special committee.

The winners will be announced at the 2017 Online News Association Conference and Online Journalism Awards Banquet on Saturday, Oct. 7, in Washington, D.C. Joshua Johnson, host of WAMU and NPR’s 1A, will emcee the evening.

Here are the 2017 Online Journalism Awards finalists.