CALIFORNIA (October 27, 2001): The Digital Journalist won first-place
honors at the Online
Journalism Awards ceremony last night in Berkeley, California.
The panel of judges selected the Digital Journalist's ''20 Years -
AIDS & Photography'' (June, 2001) as the best feature story produced
this year by an independent website.
The contest, in its second year, is the most prestigious prize for
serious journalism on the web. Sponsored by the Online
News Association (ONA) and administered by the Columbia University
Graduate School of Journalism (coordinators of the Pulitzer Prize),
the Online Journalism Awards (OJA) competition elicited 870 entries,
resulting in 66 finalists in 15 categories.
David Friend, who produced the AIDS feature (with executive producer
David Snider), accepted the award on the website's behalf:
Journalist began as two guys in a room--Dirck Halstead and David
Snider--extracting favors from their photojournalist friends.
Now, it's a rich, vibrant site by and for the photojournalist
community. One month, it's an homage to combat photographers.
The next month, like this month, 40 photographers have put up
130 pictures of the World Trade Center attacks and their aftermath,
along with their own first-person stories.
''This award--for which we're extremely appreciative--is for
a feature we put up this past June, on the 20th anniversary
of the discovery of the AIDS virus. The award goes to the resilient
subjects: the people with AIDS and HIV in these images who courageously
agreed to be photographed for others to see--and understand.
''I'd like to acknowledge Dirck Halstead, who created the Digital
Journalist and who gives it life each month; David Snider, the
site's Rumplestiltskin, who turns raw content into gold; Graydon
Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, who gave me carte blanche
to pursue this project apart from my day job at the magazine;
and, most of all, I'd like to thank the 40 photographers and
members of the photo community who donated their images and
their wisdom [to the project]. As photographer Herb Ritts remarked,
'Let's hope we're not doing another one of these 20 years from
The OJA jury, composed of experts in the field of Internet-delivered
news, cited the Digital Journalist for ''an outstanding creative use
of the medium.'' They called the AIDS story ''a great piece of journalism
that could only exist online.'' Other winners included entries from
BBC News Online (for general excellence/affiliated), Slate (for general
excellence/independent), 360degrees.org (for creative use of the medium/independent),
and Yahoo Finance Vision (for innovative presentation of information).
In his opening remarks at the two-day conference, which coincided
with the awards banquet, ONA president Rich Jaroslovsky emphasized
the pivotal role played by digital journalists in the current terrorist
crisis. Said Jaroslovsky, senior editor at the Wall Street Journal,
whose offices were devastated in the Twin Towers' collapse: ''In the
aftermath of September 11, we've seen people come on line for news
and information in unprecedented numbers. [The Internet is] no longer
an experiment. We're no longer a project. We know how we fit into
the [news] landscape.''
As a result, he observed, "People need us to have high standards.''
Jaroslovsky went on to articulate one of ONA's chief goals: to ensure
that web journalists deliver content with the same level of credibility,
accuracy, and fairness that governs the best of traditional news organizations.
''They're the values that make us indispensable to our [users],''
he noted. ''It is a mission worthy of all our efforts and struggles.''
''20 Years--AIDS & Photography,'' go to http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0106/visions_frameset.htm
Online Journalism Awards, go to http://www.onlinejournalismawards.org/pr-2001winners1.html
Online News Asssocation, go to http://www.journalists.org