April 29, 2020

Prizes for climate change reporting and newsletters join the lineup for the 2020 Online Journalism Awards

ONA introduces new categories, plus more opportunities for recognition in digital video storytelling and engaged journalism

In 2020, the Online Journalism Awards will include a Topical Reporting category focused on climate change reporting. (Photo by Melissa Bradley on Unsplash)

Uncertain times underscore journalism’s essential role of delivering timely and reliable information. It’s especially important now for us to come together as a community to highlight journalism’s impact, both locally and globally, and give recognition to newsrooms producing exceptional work to serve their audiences.

The Online Journalism Awards are the only comprehensive set of digital journalism prizes honoring achievement by major media, local newsrooms and individuals around the world. Since launching in 2000, the awards have evolved alongside the industry. Each year we reevaluate the categories and process and make adjustments that reflect both how digital journalism is changing and feedback from the ONA community.

Here is what’s new this year.


We created two new categories.

Topical Reporting: Climate Change

This category honors excellence in reporting by an individual or team focused on climate change and its impact. The award recognizes journalism showcased in a variety of mediums, including exceptional efforts in telling stories through writing, photography, data visualization, video or audio. Beyond science and policy, climate change stories may address health, trade, agriculture, sports, business, insurance and a wide range of other facets of our daily lives. In addition to climate change, we plan to expand this category in future years with honors for reporting projects on other issues of public concern or specific beats, including elections and global sporting events.

Excellence in Newsletters

This category honors email newsletters that serve as a conduit to delivering news and information. Entries should showcase a unique voice, whether the newsletter is issued by an individual or an organization. Entries may span the increasingly wide array of newsletter formats, such as providing a digest of news or events, curating resources, sharing ideas or opinions from individual columnists, providing insight on topical issues or containing original reporting and exclusive content.


We added four subcategories to honor video storytelling of different lengths.

We were blown away by the volume and caliber of submissions we received last year for the Digital Video Storytelling category. Based on our analysis of the submissions and community feedback, we recognized that different approaches to total video length deserve their own awards. For 2020, we are introducing four subcategories:

  • Short Form: Videos that are less than three minutes in length
  • Medium Form: Videos that run between three and 12 minutes
  • Long Form: Videos that are longer than 12 minutes
  • Series: Three to five videos of any length within a series


We reframed the two prizes for the Gather Award for Engaged Journalism

The Gather Award for Engaged Journalism, made possible by the Agora Journalism Center at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, has been reimagined to better highlight unique and innovative engagement strategies with consideration for newsroom resources and staff size.

In 2020, we will award two prizes of $2,500 each in these subcategories:

  • Overall Excellence: This award recognizes projects that exhibit the highest standards of effective community engagement and impact. This award is open to newsrooms of all sizes.
  • Micro/Small Newsrooms: Limited resources can lead to some of the most creative engagement strategies. This award honors newsrooms of 50 employees or less in small markets and rural communities that exhibit outstanding effort to engage with hard-to-reach or underrepresented communities.

The call for entries to the 2020 Online Journalism Awards will open on Tuesday, May 5 and accept submissions through Thursday, June 4 at 11:59pm EDT. To be eligible, entries must have been published between June 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020. We can’t wait to honor the work you’ve produced this past year.

To learn more: explore the full list of categories and review the rules and eligibility.