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May 22, 2019

Tips for submitting to the 2019 Online Journalism Awards


In celebrating the best in digital journalism, the Online Journalism Awards (OJAs) have always strived to recognize the unique blend of impactful stories and creative application of digital tools.

We’re often asked what gives finalists an edge over the competition, so here are some tips for crafting your OJA entry.

Highlight the digital aspects

It’s important to detail how your work leverages the unique possibilities of digital media. What makes this entry unique from a piece that might otherwise appear via television, text or radio? How does your entry blend use of digital tools? Not every entry has to incorporate the latest technology — most don’t! If you’re using common tools, it can also help to describe how you approached using them in a new way.

Online News Association’s annual conference at the Hyatt Regency Denver on September 17, 2016, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Online News Association)

Describe the impact of your journalism

The OJAs are competitive journalism awards, and it’s helpful to let screeners and judges understand what impact your story had. Did it spark a community dialogue? Affect a change in business practices or public policy? Did your profile of an athlete or community leader help illuminate a larger narrative about a trend or overlooked issue?

Showcase how information is presented

In all categories, note that awards are scored by how information is presented. If you’ve made creative use of social media, designed a piece to stand out on a mobile device, or created attention-grabbing production techniques, then provide details in your entry or submit links demonstrating that work. How does your approach or design make it easier for someone to understand the information you’re presenting?

Uphold the highest standards of journalism ethics

All participants in the OJAs are expected to adhere to the high ethical standards that are core to ONA’s identity and mission. This means elevating truth above all else. It means treating sources, story subjects and the audience with fairness and dignity. It means avoiding conflicts of interest, and being transparent about them when they exist. And it means prioritizing the safety and well-being of journalists and of members of the public who get swept up in the news.

If you’re looking for more clarity on how to prepare a great submission, be sure to check out the Rules & Eligibility and the FAQ. If you want a quick overview of updates to this year’s categories, you can find that in this year’s call for entries. These sections are especially helpful if you’re wondering what size category your organization should enter in, or which awards would be the best fit for your projects.

Good luck! We look forward to seeing your entries. Don’t forget that the deadline to enter is Wednesday, June 12Note: This post has been updated to reflect the deadline extension; the original deadline was a week earlier.