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Awards

The categories of the Online Journalism Awards

The categories for the Online Journalism Awards are listed below. Scroll below for detailed descriptions of each category.


The OJAs feature two new categories for 2019:

See winners and finalists from our 2018 categories:

The following awards are not for submission; honorees are recommended and selected by committee:

Please read entry requirements carefully. Entries in some categories require more information. For detailed eligibility requirements, see the Rules & Eligibility.

After filling out entry forms for all of your entries across all categories, pay for all of your entries with one payment. Make sure all information is correct before submitting.


Category Descriptions

Breaking News
This category honors digital coverage throughout an unplanned breaking or developing news event. Judges will weigh evidence of exceptional journalism, quality of writing and creative use of digital, social and mobile platforms under deadline pressure. All work submitted must have been produced within 36 hours of the original news event. In addition to content, entrants are strongly encouraged to provide screenshots or other evidence from the first minutes and hours after the event to clarify publication times and how coverage developed over time.

Three awards:
• Small newsroom
• Medium newsroom
• Large newsroom

# Gather Award in Engaged Journalism
This award honors people and projects that work with a community as part of a story or reporting process. Entries should include the stories published with or as a result of community engagement, as well as evidence of collaboration and interaction with the public. Judges will consider the unique or innovative use of engagement platforms, techniques and approaches to make journalism more responsive to the public’s needs and more inclusive of the public’s voices and diversity. Judges will also consider the execution of the project, the adaptability of the engaged journalism approaches and the meaningful impact the engagement had on the community it serves. Two awards will be considered in this category: one for excellence in a project or limited series, and a second for a portfolio of work in the eligible award period (i.e., multiple stories that may be unrelated, but share a unique approach). ONA would like to acknowledge the Gather team’s support in defining this award, which is is made possible by the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication’s Agora Journalism Center.

Two awards, $5,000 in total prize money:

  • Project ($2,500 prize): For a project or limited series
  • Portfolio ($2,500 prize): Multiple pieces produced by a team or individual during the eligible awards period that may be unrelated, but share a unique approach

Excellence in 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 include documentation from each partner in the collaboration and partnership, covering the contributions from various entities that made the collaboration a success. A winning entry should show creativity and innovation through a partnership that resulted in outstanding journalism and unique storytelling approaches using digital media.

Explanatory Reporting
This award honors excellence in sustained and ongoing explanatory journalism through digital means. Entries should cover a planned, significant news event or topic over a sustained period of time, and explain the relevance and impact of a subject or event to audiences through storytelling and presentation. Entries should showcase the ongoing and continued coverage of the event or topic and how the organization explained the issue and engaged audiences.

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.

Three awards:
• Small newsroom
• Medium newsroom
• Large newsroom

Online Commentary
This category honors a unique and powerful voice of commentary original to the web. The journalism should display freshness of insight and explanation, as well as demonstrate a creative use of the medium and platforms, including mobile. Judges will give added weight to the use of social tools to attract user response or action, or to form and sustain a community. An entry may consist of up to five examples, including columns, blog posts, videos, graphics, podcasts, etc. (Print syndication after initial digital posting does not disqualify an entry; however, entries consisting of online publication of print-first content are not eligible.)

Sports
This category honors excellence in online journalism covering sports stories and sporting events. Successful entries not only demonstrate the highest standards of journalism, but also the digital production and design of the coverage; and the ways in which digital, social, mobile and other platforms are employed to reach, inform and engage with the audience.

Two awards:
• Small/Medium newsroom
• Large newsroom

Feature
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.

Three awards:
• Small newsroom
• Medium newsroom
• Large newsroom

Student Journalism Awards
This category honors an excellent student package or project that expertly uses digital storytelling and technologies regarding a specific story or topic to inform its audience. Judges will consider the quality of the journalism; the digital production and design of the coverage; and the ways in which digital, social, mobile and other platforms are employed to reach, inform and engage with the audience.

Three awards:
• Pro-Am
• The David Teuuwen Student Awards
• Small ($500 prize)
• Large ($500 prize)

The University of Florida Award for Investigative Data Journalism
This award, made possible by the estate of Lorraine Dingman, honors work that best features and presents data journalism on digital and mobile platforms. The award will focus on the effectiveness of the data to tell a story, how well the data is presented to users, the journalistic impact and relevance of the data, and the design and functionality of the data presentation. Judges will also take into account the difficulty in acquiring the data. Winners will be asked to travel to the University of Florida (expenses paid) to lead full-day workshops.

Two awards, $15,000 in total prize money:
• Small/Medium newsroom ($7,500 prize)
• Large newsroom ($7,500 prize)

# Digital Video Storytelling
This award honors strong and innovative work in telling stories through digital video, including animation. Judges will consider the uniqueness of presentation, how the work incorporates digital storytelling techniques and is unique to digital platforms, impact and the strength of the journalism produced. Attention will also be paid to innovative use of digital video, and creativity used to tell stories in digital, mobile and social platforms. Entries may consist of a single video or up to five examples from a series related to a single topic.

Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling
This award honors exceptional and innovative efforts in telling a story through photography, graphics, data visualization and other visual means. Judges will consider the quality and impact of the visuals, the selection of media and the effectiveness of the visuals in conveying the story’s topic or event. Judges also will give special attention to the originality, innovation and creativity being brought to bear to tell stories that are truly of digital and mobile platforms.

Three awards:
• Small newsroom
• Medium newsroom
• Large newsroom

Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling
This award honors exceptional efforts in telling stories through digitally focused audio media: podcasts, audio-focused online works, or other emerging media. Judges will consider the journalism behind an audio project, the uniqueness and originality of voice, overall production quality, and innovative use of storytelling techniques. Judges will give special attention to the creativity being brought to bear to tell stories that are truly of digital and mobile platforms.

Three awards:

  • Ongoing series: A continually publishing podcast or audio work, published on a regular schedule. Judges will consider the strength of the work based on a selection of episodes or pieces.
  • Limited series: A limited set of audio pieces, published over time or all at once, with a definite start and end. This could be a short-run podcast, or a set of audio works.
  • Use of Audio Storytelling: Focused on audio incorporated into a digital story or a single audio-focused production, which may include a single episode of a podcast or show. Judges will consider the innovative use of audio within the story and how audio is incorporated, as well as production, storytelling and voice.

Excellence in Immersive Storytelling
This award honors exceptional efforts in telling stories through digitally focused immersive media: virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, 360 video, or other emerging media. Judges will consider the journalism behind an immersive project, overall production quality, and innovative use of storytelling techniques. Judges also will give special attention to the handling of ethical considerations for immersive works and successful audience engagement efforts on digital and mobile platforms. A cash prize of $5,000 for this award is sponsored by Journalism 360.

Gannett Foundation Award for Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism
This award honors a person or company, journalistic in focus or not, that has built a digital tool or platform significantly enhancing the practice of online journalism. Entrants will be judged on the extent to which the technology serves online and mobile news gathering, production, presentation or distribution. In addition to providing a URL that explains the tool, entrants are strongly encouraged to submit up to four URLs where the tool is in use and an explanation, if necessary.

One award, $5,500 prize

The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award
This category, supported by the Gannett Foundation, honors a single or a series of stories that uncover major news based on the reporters’ own investigations that advance and serve the public interest. Clear presentation through user interface and interactivity, creative use of the medium and platforms (including mobile), use of social tools and evidence of the impact of the publication will be considered. Judges will also consider the impact of the work through subsequent coverage, conversations or resulting policy changes. An entry will consist of a single piece, series or package on the same subject, including an explanation detailing the investigation’s impact. An entry may consist of up to five examples, including articles, blog posts, videos, graphics, podcasts, etc.

Three awards, $12,000 in total prize money:
• Small newsroom ($4,000 prize)
• Medium newsroom ($4,000 prize)
• Large newsroom ($4,000 prize)

Knight Award for Public Service
This award recognizes digital journalism that performs a public service for a defined and specific community through compelling coverage of a vital community issue or event. Entries will be judged on use of digital media storytelling to gather, compile, analyze and/or present vital information. Judges also will consider use of varied digital and mobile techniques and resources to engage the community by reporting on the issue or event in question. Journalism that makes a difference and motivates the audience to act and improve or change a community’s welfare and quality of life will be emphasized. The impact of the coverage on the community will be a major factor in the judging. Entries may be a single package or continuing project and may consist of one main URL and up to four supporting URLs. Evidence of the project’s public service impact should be provided either as one of the supporting URLs or in the entry description.

One award, $5,000 prize

General Excellence in Online Journalism
This category, supported by the Gannett Foundation, honors a digitally focused news organization that successfully fulfills its editorial mission, effectively serves its audience, maximizes the use of digital tools and platforms and represents the highest journalistic standards. Entries 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.

Three awards, $15,000 in total prize money:
• Small newsroom ($5,000 prize)
• Medium newsroom ($5,000 prize)
• Large newsroom ($5,000 prize)
• Micro size newsroom (15 or fewer employees)


The following awards are not open for submission; honorees are recommended and selected by committee:

The James Foley Award for Conflict Reporting
This award honors a digital journalist who produces excellent reporting under the most challenging conditions, covering war, corruption, crime, culture and politics in countries around the world.

The Rich Jaroslovsky Founder Award
This award honors an individual who has significantly advanced or made lasting contributions to the field of digital journalism through their work in the industry, and who exhibits extraordinary commitment to the journalistic values and ethics ONA represents.

ONA Community Award
The ONA Community Award will honor one individual whose contributions have transformed digital journalism, particularly by creating the kind of environment that inspires and enables journalists to do their best work. This individual’s contributions also support the ONA mission and community through their work, whether in leadership, technological innovation, teaching, or other means. Nominations will open in July 2019; stay tuned for the announcement.

Previous Categories

Since the inception of the Online Journalism Awards, the program team has consistently re-evaluated the category structure. Below are categories from previous award years that are no longer in the current slate of awards: