Digital Journalist's AIDS Feature
Takes Top Industry Prize

BERKELEY, 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:

''The Digital 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 now.' ''

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), (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.''

Suggested Links:
''20 Years--AIDS & Photography,'' go to
Online Journalism Awards, go to
Online News Asssocation, go to

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