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September 1, 2020

ONA Announces the 2020 Online Journalism Awards Finalists


A new batch of these trophies are up for grabs in the 2020 Online Journalism Awards.

The Online News Association (ONA) is honored to share the finalists for the 2020 Online Journalism Awards (OJAs).

Winners will be announced at virtual awards events throughout the 2020 Online News Association Conference (ONA20), Oct. 1–16. The conference will bring together some of digital media’s brightest minds — journalists, media executives, product teams, entrepreneurs and educators — for two weeks of learning, networking, inspiration and fun. The awards events will culminate in a closing ceremony on Oct. 16 to showcase and celebrate the impact of digital journalism. Register now to attend.

The 2020 Online Journalism Awards feature 42 prizes across 19 categories. This year’s competition introduced several exciting changes:

  • Excellence in Newsletters: This new award honors single email newsletters that serve as a conduit to delivering news and information.
  • Topical Reporting: Climate Change: This new award honors excellence in online journalism that covers climate change and its impact, including as it relates to science, policy, health, trade, agriculture, sports, business, insurance and a wide range of other facets of our daily lives.
  • Gather Award in Engaged Journalism: This award honors people, projects, and processes that center community needs and voices in the production of journalism. It was reimagined into two subcategories, one for overall excellence and the other for micro/small newsrooms.
  • Digital Video Storytelling: This award now includes four subcategories recognizing innovative video work in short form, medium form, long form and series.

This year’s OJAs also includes 13 awards with a total of $56,000 in prize money, made possible through the generous support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, SmartNews, McKinsey Publishing, the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, Journalism 360, the Gannett Foundation, and the Agora Journalism Center at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication. These cash prize awards honor engaged journalism, data journalism, visual digital storytelling, investigative journalism, immersive storytelling, public service, technical innovation, student journalism and general excellence.

A group of 158 digital media professionals teamed up to screen 1,164 entries to determine semi-finalists. More than 70 judges representing a diverse cross-section of the industry then conferred to determine finalists and winners.

Explore all the 2020 finalists


The 2020 Online Journalism Awards finalists are:

Breaking News, Small Newsroom

  • No finalists

Breaking News, Medium Newsroom

  • Kincade Fire and PG&E Shut-Offs, San Francisco Chronicle
  • The Coronavirus Pandemic, The Boston Globe

Breaking News, Large Newsroom

  • 18-Year-Old Beaten to Death by Group of Rugby Players, LA NACION
  • The Killing of George Floyd, The Star Tribune
  • El Paso and Dayton Shootings, The Washington Post

Explanatory Reporting, Small Newsroom

  • The True Cost of Court Debt, PublicSource
  • Crime and Deportation: Debunking the Myths that Drive Our Immigration System, The Marshall Project

Explanatory Reporting, Medium Newsroom

  • Turned Away, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • Gone at 15, NJ Advance Media
  • Clear Takeover, Tampa Bay Times
  • Seeing Red, The Boston Globe
  • What Do We Really Know About the Politics of People Behind Bars?, The Marshall Project, Slate

Explanatory Reporting, Large Newsroom

  • Visualizing the Coronavirus Outbreak, The New York Times
  • COVID-19, The Washington Post
  • Hong Kong Protests: Measuring the Masses, Thomson Reuters

Online Commentary

  • Fork the System, Al Jazeera Digital
  • Jeneé Osterheldt, The Boston Globe
  • The America We Need, The New York Times
  • Absurd America, The Washington Post

Sports, Small/Medium Newsroom

  • The Auschwitz Boxers: “Either You Know How To Box or You Go To the Gas Chamber”, MARCA
  • The Day That Changed Everything, NJ Advance Media
  • The Time We Have Here, The Dallas Morning News

Sports, Large Newsroom

  • Road to the Pros: Henry Ruggs III, Alabama Media Group
  • The Long Road Back, The Globe and Mail

Feature, Small Newsroom

  • You Donated To Kids With Cancer. This Vegas Telemarketer Cashed In., Center for Public Integrity
  • Venezuela: The Smugglers’ Paradise, InfoAmazonia, Correo del Caroni, De Correspondent, Miami Herald, RunRunes
  • Shell Shocked, The Intercept Brasil

Feature, Medium Newsroom

  • The Fisherman’s Secret, San Francisco Chronicle
  • Detained, The Marshall Project, The Guardian
  • Disappearing Daughters, The Seattle Times

Feature, Large Newsroom

  • Rise of the Dancefluencer, Los Angeles Times
  • The Class of 2000 ‘Could Have Been Anything’, The New York Times
  • Cruise Ship Kept Sailing, Exposing Thousands, The Washington Post
  • In Hong Kong Crackdown, Police Repeatedly Broke Their Own Rules — and Faced No Consequences, The Washington Post

The David Teeuwen Student Journalism Award, Small Newsroom

  • Believe at Your Own Risk, Stony Brook University School of Journalism

The David Teeuwen Student Journalism Award, Large Newsroom

  • Who We Are: Finding Home, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism / JOVRNALISM
  • These Days, Western Kentucky University

Pro-Am Student Award

  • The Fish You (Don’t Know You) Eat, Global Reporting Centre / University of British Columbia
  • Fact-Checking Coronavirus, MediaWise
  • State Of Emergency, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University

The University of Florida Award for Investigative Data Journalism, Small/Medium Newsroom

  • Stuck: Inside California’s Housing Crisis, Southern California Public Radio
  • The Corona Live Tracker, VG

The University of Florida Award for Investigative Data Journalism, Large Newsroom

  • The Quiet Rooms, ProPublica
  • How Trump Reshaped the Presidency in Over 11,000 Tweets, The New York Times

Excellence in Immersive Storytelling

  • 50th Anniversary: “Apollo 11: America’s Journey To The Moon”, Gannett
  • See How the World’s Most Polluted Air Compares With Your City’s, The New York Times
  • Who We Are: Finding Home, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism / JOVRNALISM
  • 1619: Searching for answers, USA TODAY

Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling, Ongoing Series

  • Bodies (Season 2), KCRW
  • Asian Enough, Los Angeles Times
  • Dish City, WAMU 88.5

Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling, Limited Series

  • Midnight Son, Future Projects
  • The Voicebot Chronicles, KQED
  • The Provability Gap: Why Sexual Assaults Are So Hard to Prosecute in Austin, KUT
  • Broken Justice, PBS NewsHour

Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling, Use of Audio Storytelling

  • Lost in Transplantation, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting
  • Stuck: Inside California’s Housing Crisis, Southern California Public Radio

Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Small Newsroom

  • Living in the Unknown, Al Jazeera Contrast, Al Jazeera Digital
  • Iraq Without Water, Un Ponte Per
  • Explorer, Navigator, Coloniser: Revisit Captain Cook’s Legacy With the Click of a Mouse, The Conversation Australia

Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Medium Newsroom

  • One Day, One City, No Relief: 24 Hours Inside San Francisco’s Homeless Crisis, San Francisco Chronicle
  • The Zo, The Marshall Project, Topic
  • Disappearing Daughters, The Seattle Times

Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Large Newsroom

  • Visualising the Hong Kong Protests, Thomson Reuters
  • Companies in the Cosmos: How to dress for space, The Washington Post
  • The Designs Vary. The Technology is New. The Ambition is the Same., The New York Times
  • The Mueller Report Illustrated, The Washington Post

Excellence in Collaboration and Partnerships

  • Luanda Leaks, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, FRONTLINE, L’Espresso, The New York Times and 33 other media partners
  • Good River: Stories of the Ohio, From 7 Newsrooms in the Watershed, PublicSource, 100 Days in Appalachia, Belt Magazine, Environmental Health News, Eye on Ohio, Louisville Public Media, The Allegheny Front
  • The Pangolin Reports, The Environmental Reporting Collective

Excellence in Newsletters

  • Axios AM, Axios
  • Popular Information, Popular Information
  • THE CITY Scoop, THE CITY
  • Race/Related, The Marshall Project, The New York Times
  • Lily Lines, The Washington Post

Digital Video Storytelling, Short Form

  • Helicoprion, National Geographic

Digital Video Storytelling, Medium Form

  • Adrift: How the Marine Corps Failed Squadron 242, ProPublica
  • Where Are All The Bob Ross Paintings? We Found Them., The New York Times
  • ‘It’s Mutilation’: The Police in Chile Are Blinding Protesters, The New York Times
  • The Jessicas Are Turning 30, The Washington Post
  • The Clitoris, Uncovered: An Intimate History, Scientific American

Digital Video Storytelling, Long Form

  • Tutwiler, FRONTLINE, The Marshall Project
  • A Different Kind of Force—Policing Mental Illness, NBC News Group
  • Shoura, Voice of America

Digital Video Storytelling, Series

  • All Hail The Algorithm, Al Jazeera English
  • We Are Witnesses: Chicago, The Marshall Project, Illinois Humanities, Kartemquin Films
  • Missing Chapter, Vox Media

Gather Award for Engaged Journalism, Overall Excellence

  • Reckon Women: Motherhood, Alabama Media Group
  • Stranded Abroad: The Drama of Argentine Citizens Left Behind by Closed Borders, LA NACION
  • News Inside, The Marshall Project
  • Southern California Public Radio’s Engaged Journalism, Southern California Public Radio

Gather Award for Engaged Journalism, Micro/Small Newsrooms

  • Use of WhatsApp During COVID-19, Documented
  • #CheckYourJudges: Cook County Judicial Primary Election Guide, Injustice Watch

Award for Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism

  • Vote Coder, BBC News
  • Sophi Automation, The Globe and Mail

The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Small Newsroom

  • Big Spending, Little Accountability, Spotlight PA
  • Think Debtors Prisons Are a Thing of the Past? Not in Mississippi., The Marshall Project, Mississippi Today

The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Medium Newsroom

  • UVA Lawsuits, Kaiser Health News
  • Lawless, ProPublica
  • Amazon: Behind the Smiles, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting

The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Large Newsroom

  • Syria Health Care Under Attack, The New York Times
  • How Amazon Puts Us at Risk, The Wall Street Journal
  • The Afghanistan Papers: The Secret History of the War, The Washington Post
  • Copy, Paste, Legislate, USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic and The Center For Public Integrity

Topical Reporting: Climate Change

  • How Global Warming Has Changed the World Since Your Childhood, ABC News (Australia)
  • Las Mujeres Que Le Ganaron Al Desierto, GK
  • California Against the Sea, Los Angeles Times
  • 2°C: Beyond the Limit, The Washington Post
  • These 3 Supertrees Can Protect Us From Climate Collapse. but Can We Protect Them?, Vox Media

Knight Award for Public Service

  • Unprotected: Broken Promises in Georgia’s Senior Care Industry, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • In Plain View, Injustice Watch
  • The Quiet Rooms, ProPublica
  • The 1619 Project, The New York Times

General Excellence in Online Journalism, Micro Newsroom

  • PublicSource
  • Voice of San Diego
  • Idaho Education News
  • El Paso Matters

General Excellence in Online Journalism, Small Newsroom

  • Marshall Project
  • Honolulu Civil Beat
  • Quanta Magazine
  • Spotlight PA

General Excellence in Online Journalism, Medium Newsroom

  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • ProPublica
  • Tampa Bay Times
  • WBUR

General Excellence in Online Journalism, Large Newsroom

  • South China Morning Post
  • The Washington Post
  • The Globe and Mail

ONA would also like to extend its gratitude to the Awards and Recognition Committee and the judges who reviewed and selected the 2020 finalists and winners:

  • Ashley Alvarado, Director of Community Engagement, KPCC, Southern California Public Radio
  • Sarah Alvarez, Founder and Executive Editor, Outlier Media
  • Neela Banerjee, Supervising Climate Editor, NPR
  • Julia Beizer, Chief Product Officer, Bloomberg Media
  • Lexi Belculfine, Deputy Managing Producer & Mobile Editor, Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Marie-Catherine Beuth, Deputy Editor in Chief, Digital, L’Opinion
  • Michael Bolden, Managing Director, John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University
  • Carla Borras, Director of Digital Video, FRONTLINE
  • Becky Bowers, Strategy Editor, The Wall Street Journal
  • Heather Bryant, Founder/Director, Project Facet
  • Garance Burke, Investigative Journalist, The Associated Press
  • Kaizar Campwala, VP- Business Operations and Insights, ABC News
  • Sara Catania, Director of Journalism School Partnerships, Solutions Journalism Network
  • Claire Caulfield, Audio Reporter, Honolulu Civil Beat
  • Sharon Chan, VP, Philanthropy, The New York Times
  • Manolia Charlotin, Co-Director, Press On
  • Lakeidra Chavis, Reporter, The Trace
  • Florencia Coelho, New Media Research and Training Manager, LA NACION
  • Sarah Cohen, Knight Chair in Data Journalism, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Sterling Cosper (Muscogee), Program Manager, Native American Journalists Association
  • Tonia Cowan, Graphics Director, The Wall Street Journal
  • Annemarie Dooling, Engagement Experiences Product Lead, The Wall Street Journal
  • Karim Doumar, Assistant Editor, Audience, ProPublica
  • Kenned Elliott, Director of Interactive Storytelling, National Geographic
  • Amie Ferris-Rotman, Founder, Sahar Speaks
  • Rubina Fillion, Director of Audience, The New York Times Opinion; ONA Board Member; Member, Awards and Recognition Committee
  • Kim Fox, Vice President of Product Strategy, CalMatters
  • Megan Griffith-Greene, Editor, Service Features, Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Carolina Guerrero, CEO, Radio Ambulante
  • Laura Hertzfeld, Director, XR Partner Program, RYOT/Verizon Media Group
  • Cierra Hinton, Director of Strategy and Collective Building, Press On; Executive Director-Publisher, Scalawag
  • Chris Horne, Publisher, The Devil Strip
  • Rich Jaroslovsky, Vice President for Content & Chief Journalist, SmartNews, Inc.
  • John Keefe, Graphics/Multimedia Editor, The New York Times
  • Ryan Kellett, Senior Director of Audience, The Washington Post
  • Jo Kelly, Director of News and Sports Partnerships, EMEA, Twitter
  • Roger Kenny, Innovation Tech Lead, Dow Jones
  • Damon Kiesow, Knight Chair in Digital Editing and Producing, Missouri School of Journalism
  • Martin Kotynek, Editor-in-Chief, DER STANDARD
  • Adriana Lacy, Audience Engagement Editor, The Los Angeles Times
  • Nathalie Malinarich, Editor, Mobile and New Formats, BBC News
  • Ellen McGirt, Senior Editor, Fortune Magazine
  • Tom Meagher, Senior Editor, The Marshall Project
  • Pavni Mittal, Reporter/Producer, PBS NewsHour
  • Stefanie Murray, Director, Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University
  • R.L. Nave, Director, Alabama Media Group/Advance
  • Shazna Nessa, Global Head of Visuals, The Wall Street Journal; ONA Board President; Co-Chair, Awards and Recognition Committee
  • Akoto Ofori-Atta, Managing Editor, The Trace
  • Niketa Patel, News Partnership Manager, Twitter; ONA Board Member; Co-Chair, Awards and Recognition Committee
  • Momi Peralta Ramos, Data Project Manager, LA NACION
  • Cheryl Phillips, Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professor in Professional Journalism/Founder of Big Local News, Stanford University
  • Kendra Pierre-Louis, Senior Reporter, Gimlet Media
  • Ankita Rao, Voting Rights Editor, Guardian News & Media
  • Zahra Rasool, Head of AJ Contrast, Al Jazeera Digital
  • Penny Riordan, Experienced Product Manager, Audience Engagement Director and Social Media Expert
  • Mariana Santos, Founder & CEO, Chicas Poderosas
  • Wilson Sayre, Executive Producer of Podcasts, Capitol Broadcasting Company
  • Cory Schouten, New Formats Editor, The Wall Street Journal
  • Hanna Sender, Visual Editor, The Wall Street Journal
  • Versha Sharma, Managing Editor and Senior Correspondent, NowThis
  • Ashley Smart, Associate Director, Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT
  • Danyel Smith, Culture Lead, ESPN
  • David Smydra, Head, News Product Experience, Google; ONA Board Vice-President
  • Hari Sreenivasan, Anchor/Sr. Correspondent, PBS NewsHour
  • Bernadette Tuazon, Directory of Photography, CNN Digital
  • Graham Watson-Ringo, Managing Editor, Rivard Report
  • Aaron Williams, Investigative Data Reporter, The Washington Post
  • Andrea Zagata, Visual Journalist, The New York Times
  • Jenny G. Zhang, Vox Media, Staff Writer, Eater
  • Ariel Zirulnick, Fund Director, Membership Puzzle Project

*Judges were recused from reviewing entries from their own organizations.

Special thanks to the OJA Award sponsors: