Salon and MSNBC.com took the top prizes at the first Online Journalism Awards, which were announced Friday in New York. Salon was rewarded for general excellence among sites original to the Web, while MSNBC.com won the same award for sites done in partnership with another medium.
Salon also won the prize for enterprise journalism original to the Web for its exposé, by reporter Dan Forbes, of how network television shows, lured by a government advertising subsidy, covertly included anti-drug messages in their programming. Salon was the only site to win two prizes.
Other winners included CNet News, for breaking news (original); ABCNews.com, for breaking news (collaboration); the Associated Press, for enterprise journalism (collaboration); Babycenter.com, for service journalism (original); Cleveland Live, for service journalism (collaboration); APBNews, for creative use of the medium (original); TimesUnion.com, for creative use of the medium (collaboration); and Emily Prager, for online commentary in Oxygen.com. (Links are to prize-winning entries.)
The Online Journalism Awards are administered by the Online News Association and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, which also administers the Pulitzer Prizes, the National Magazine Awards and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for broadcast journalism. The contest, judged by 11 distinguished journalists after an initial screening process, drew more than 600 entries from over 200 English-language media organizations.
"One of ONA's major goals is to recognize and honor journalistic excellence, and it's truly gratifying to see just how much tremendous work is being done online," said Rich Jaroslovsky, president of the Online News Association, co-chairman of the judges and managing editor of the Wall Street Journal Online. "Choosing the best from among this group was a difficult task -- but it's in all of our interests, and the public's, to set a high standard for this new medium."
In the citation for general excellence, the judges said of Salon, "By lowering the barriers to entry, the Web encourages new publications to be born, grow, and thrive, bringing new voices and opinions to public discourse on important issues. No one has succeeded more in this than Salon.com. It covers a broad range of issues -- from politics and business to media and culture -- with authoritative stories and commentaries. It has broken numerous stories. It updates frequently. It is a new magazine for a new medium."
In the citation for Salon's winning enterprise journalism piece, the award read: "The judges called this an exclusive story that had significant impact on network television, advertising and the role of government. It reflected deep reporting of an unexplored topic -- the kind of investigative work that Web journalists should aspire to."
Salon founder and editor David Talbot said, "This is the first time that distinguished journalists have honored the important work being done by their colleagues in the online field. During the five years of Salon's existence, it's always been our goal to maintain the highest journalistic standards while trying to stay one step ahead of the challenges and opportunities presented by this dynamic new medium. We're truly gratified that the judges saw fit to honor our efforts."
The prizes were presented at Columbia University before more than 150 journalists gathered for the first national conference of the ONA. Featured speaker was veteran journalist Kurt Andersen, former editor of Spy and New York magazines and co-founder of Inside.com.