May 2, 2018

2018 Online Journalism Awards introduce new Collaboration category, among other changes

Jess Mador, creator of TruckBeat at WUOT, accepts the Online Journalism Award for Topical Reporting, Small Newsroom, from co-chair P. Kim Bui at the 2017 OJAs. (Photo by Anya Semenoff for the Online News Association)

Submissions for the 2018 Online Journalism Awards will open on May 8! This year’s awards feature 37 categories and more than $50,000 in prize money, and continue the tradition of recognizing groundbreaking digital journalism from around the world.

We’re excited to introduce a new category and updates to the submission rules to the Online News Association and larger journalism community. These updates reflect both community feedback and change in our constantly evolving industry.

New category for collaboration and partnerships

This award honors newsrooms and companies who have formed partnerships or collaborations to cover a topic or story with a digital focus. Entries should display the depth of the collaboration, as well as the creativity and innovation demonstrated by the parties involved. Additionally, entries should make clear how the collaboration improved the resulting journalism.

New Micro Newsroom size category for General Excellence

This award, presented by Democracy Fund, honors a digitally focused news organization with 15 or fewer employees that successfully fulfills its editorial mission, effectively serves its audience, maximizes the use of digital tools and platforms and represents the highest journalistic standards. Similar to the other General Excellence size categories, entries to the Micro Newsroom category will be judged on quality of journalism, a superb user experience and the use of social tools and other digital media to reach, inform and engage audiences. Democracy Fund support means there will be no application fee for this size category.

Explanatory and Feature categories get new criteria

ONA values collaboration and community input. The awards committee took a lot of feedback from previous applicants over the last three years into consideration in updating a few of the categories and rules for 2018. We have consolidated previous portions of the Planned News and Topical categories and incorporated them into the Explanatory and Feature categories to be more concise and reflective of changes within the way stories are reported.


This award honors excellence in sustained and ongoing explanatory journalism through digital means. Entries should cover a planned, significant news event or topic — such as an election — over a period of time, and explain the relevance and impact of a subject or event to audiences though storytelling and presentation.

Judges will consider the execution and quality of the journalism; design and presentation of the coverage; and the ways in which multiple platforms, including social and mobile, were used to reach, inform and engage with the audience. Entries should consist of up to five work samples.


This award honors excellence in online journalism presented in a single package or story that shows significant depth, insight and new understanding of a story or topic. Entries may be presented as profiles, feature packages, or watchdog journalism.

Judges will consider the use of social tools to coalesce a participatory, online community around the topic being covered; the quality of the journalism; the digital production and design of the coverage; and the ways in which multiple platforms, including social and mobile, were used to reach, inform and engage with the audience.

Two additional rule changes help clarify categories:

In 2017, the Online Journalism Awards shone a light on stellar digital work being produced across the globe. It is our hope this year will put a bright spotlight on journalism that has pushed the envelope and delighted or informed audiences in new ways. On behalf of the awards committee and co-chair David Smydra, we look forward to showcasing and celebrating your work.