Readings (sort of) 9-18-08

Instead of readings for this week, I’d like you to look at the collection of Online Journalism Award Winners. In the comments below, pick ONE site from the list of winners, link to it and explain why you chose it and what you think it’s doing that’s noteworthy both on a technical and journalistic level.

Online Journalism Award Winners

(Take note that there is a student category. THIS COULD BE YOU NEXT YEAR. Serious.)


9 responses to “Readings (sort of) 9-18-08


    Everyblock won the Outstanding Use of Technology award for the small sites category. I picked this site because I have used this for my investigative journalism class.

    Along with basic research this site, provides detailed info on all the communities in Chicago, i.e. public records, latest crimes, street closures, restaurant inspections, lost and stolen items and more. It also includes detailed maps of the community and database information from Craig’s list and the Chicago Police Department.

    This site is expanding very fast and recently added Chicago, although the suburbs aren’t in there yet, I am sure they will be in time.

  2. First off: Wow, this was very difficult.

    I was particularly drawn to the winners that were more focused on video presentations and photo/audio slideshows, and I managed to slowly narrow it down to five favorites.

    If I must pick just one, it’s a tough decision but the online commentary by the Dallas Morning News just shook me to my core. The intense combination of voice, background music and utterly striking photos that comment on the larger, yet somewhat less covered issues in Texas are overwhelming moving. So much thought and careful editing went into these slideshows, including the timing of the slide transitions. The best example of this is in the piece about Juvenile Detention, where audio recordings of jail cells slamming shut coincide with the slide transitions. The background music also adds this heart-pounding sense of a climax that practically leaves you breathless.

    The issues addressed in these pieces are incredibly difficult territory, as they’re not quite as “newsworthy” on the surface. An editor might say, “What’s the newspeg? What makes this timely RIGHT NOW?” But the videographers and editors behind these pieces managed to juxtapose alarming statistics and real-life stories told by the subjects themselves to make the stories both relevant and timeless, something incredibly difficult to achieve in journalism.

    For the sake of space, I won’t jabber on about the rest of the picks, but I will say the Oregonian’s video diary “Living to the End” is incredibly moving and inspiring. I’m only on video 12 of 27, but I can’t seem to stop watching. The student picks are remarkable and actually surpass many professional winners selected in this list, in my opinion. I really enjoyed the “Closer to Home” winner for the same reasons listed: the presentation of a simplistic website and the engaging use of video to tell this story are simply beautiful.

    Also, check out the Shoutback winner. The cartoonist posts “shoutback messages” where viewers can call a toll-free number and give him a piece of their mind. Genius! And the comment “Moron Mark Fiore” is priceless: “You are a moron. You are an idiot. You are a brain-dead piece of dumb.”

  3. won the General Excellence award for large Web sites. I felt this was noteworthy because of the level of service CNN provides. I particularly like its cross-promotion through its cable channel, Web site, and things like the “I Reporter.” It gives viewers a chance to have interaction and be their own reporters.

    I’m also a big fan of the layout of Not only is it very navigational, it also has little things in it that saves readers time and energy. For instance, on the main headline bar, there’s links to videos related to the story. Also, there’s a red block of letters next to most stories stating when they have been last updated. It’s the little things that really makes a Web site great.

  4. MediaStorm: Bearing Witness is a great example of how vital multimedia skills can be to making sure that the story being told gets the justice that it deserves. The combination of interview segments combined with photos and video clips leave such a jarring impact that would not have been possible in print form.

    It’s one thing to hear the journalists in the piece speak about the psychological toll that covering the Iraq War has had on them, but it’s photos and video footage of injured civilians that really show what kind of detrimental effects that this war has had on everyone involved.

    The other thing that surprises me was how mainstream media outlets normally shy away from images like this. I think that if more stories were told in this way, Americans wouldn’t even think twice about questioning the motives behind this war and mobilizing together to end it.

  5. Alexandra Sheckler

    I chose this from The Oregonian. The first thing that appealed to me was the simple layout. Simple attracts my eye because everything today is pumped up with visuals and blinking lights to try and get attention from readers.

    Secondly, I liked the concept. It’s a human interest piece documenting the last months of retired journalist, Lovelle Svart after she was diagnosed with cancer.

    The site offers a video diary where the viewers are able to see her explain her diagnosis and how she and her loved ones were dealing with the news. Also, audio is accessible.

    This idea is entirely out of the box. It pulls some heart strings and really invades a personal bubble not many people would allow to be invaded. For example, “Lovelle’s Final Act” is a photo and audio option where Lovelle is shown in bed with her family beside her as she’s taking a “lethal cocktail,” where she would be put into a coma and die 5 hours after. Intense.


    First off, I was happy to see a Spanish website win as well. The site has great pictures and it is visually pleasing. It’s the first time I see a site from Spain , all about Spain.

    The site has a lot of videos, current news and links to other sites. The different links within the site are about daily life, digital life, trends, sex, health, recipes, architecture and design and blogs. Of those links many stories are from across Europe, not just Spain, a nice way to keep things well-rounded.

    The home page of the site is huge and the oldest thing that I found posted on the homepage was something from yesterday. So much content and it’s all current. I’m wondering how many people it takes to keep it so updated.


    This is my favorite because it’s different than any news Web site I’ve seen before. The animation is outstanding, and the political satire is very clever and amusing. The cartoons are a unique form of journalism; because they are animated, they can only really exist online or on TV, which makes them stand out from traditional printed political cartoons.

    I also like the interactivity of the site; users are encouraged to discuss the videos online, or call a toll free number to leave an ‘audio comment,’ which Fiore then posts on the site. A page called ‘do something’ shows viewers how they can help with the causes related to the animations.

    Fiore has also included feeds from major news sources and links to humorous youtube videos to try to appeal to his audience’s other interests. It’s a very clever and innovative site idea, all around.


    I love this website. Though it’s not the website that I’ll set to my homepage, or even a website that I’ll visit everyday, it is a website that I may never forget.

    Whenever I think I have strep, I go to WebMD.
    Whenever I’m arguing about the effects of malaria, I go to WebMD.
    Whenever I’m curious about the symptoms and latest stats on HPV, I go to WebMD.

    It’s not that these things happen often, but these are things that I don’t trust too many other sources on. I’d rather search WebMD for cures for crusty eyeball infections than do a general search on google or wikipedia.

    WebMD is reputable.

    Besides that, I’ve never come to WebMD without knowing where to click within a few seconds. An appealing site design is preferable, but I would much rather a site be easy to navigate if I had to choose between the two. I’ve always been able to find what I’m looking for, and I’m always finding new features.

    With this new “symptom checker,” people can find out what sicknesses they may have just by clicking. I just found out a possible reason my knees have been bothering me since I was a teenager. My doctors always assumed it was from me playing sports, which definitely contributed, but no one ever even mentioned the possibility of me having patellofemeral pain syndrome. I fit the symptoms, maybe I should ask my doctor about it.

    Besides the endless supply of ammunition for hypochondriacs, this site does a lot of good. It definitely deserves some credit.

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