2017 Online Journalism Awards finalists announced

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Finalists for the 2017 Online Journalism Awards, representing a wide range of nonprofit, public, academic, major media and emerging technology organizations from around the globe, were announced today by the Online News Association.

Thirteen of the awards now come with $58,500 in prize money, courtesy of John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Gannett Foundation, the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications and Journalism 360. These awards honor data journalism, visual digital storytelling, investigative journalism, immersive storytelling, public service, technical innovation, student journalism and general excellence.

In 2017, two new categories have been added to honor evolving forms of journalism, both of which received a number of impressive entries: Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling, which honors exceptional efforts in telling stories through digitally-focused audio, including podcasts, audio-centric online works and other emerging media; and Excellence in Immersive Storytelling, which honors exceptional efforts in telling stories through digital, immersive media: virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, 360 video and other emerging media.

A special selection committee also granted the James Foley Award for Conflict Reporting to photojournalist and multimedia producer Tara Todras-Whitehill. She is the third recipient of the award, which honors journalists reporting under the most challenging conditions. Todras-Whitehill has been documenting stories of vulnerable populations — especially women and refugees — in the Middle East region for over a decade.

“The selection committee felt Tara’s work sets a sky-high bar for digital journalism that’s practiced in challenging conditions and takes on critical stories and issues,” said Eric Carvin, Social Media Editor at The Associated Press and chair of the committee. “She’s exhibited a rare combination of bravery, digital savvy and eye-catching visual skills, and her work as co-founder of Vignette Interactive has driven storytelling in exciting new directions across the Middle East.”

The winners will be announced at the 2017 Online News Association Conference and Online Journalism Awards Banquet on Saturday, Oct. 7, in Washington, D.C. Joshua Johnson, host of WAMU and NPR’s 1A, will emcee the awards ceremony.

A group of 119 industry-leading journalists and new media professionals teamed up to screen 1,166 entries and select semi-finalists. Thirty judges representing a diverse cross-section of the industry then conferred to determine finalists and winners.

Explore all the finalists on awards.journalists.org.

The finalists, many of whom push the envelope of innovation and excellence in digital storytelling and distribution, are:

Breaking News, Medium Newsroom
  • The Dallas Shootings, KERA
  • Tragedy in Dallas, NBCDFW.com
  • Gatlinburg Fire, The Knoxville News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK – TENNESSEE
Breaking News, Large Newsroom
  • Dallas Police Ambush, Dallas Morning News / DallasNews.com
  • Orlando, The New York Times
  • Terror Attack in Nice, France, The New York Times
Breaking News, Small Newsroom
    No finalists
Planned News/Events, Small Newsroom
  • The Colorado Voter’s Guide to the 2016 Election, Colorado Public Radio News
  • CrossCheck France, First Draft
Planned News/Events, Medium Newsroom
  • Election 2016, OPB, Oregon Public Broadcasting
  • Election 2016, WBUR
Planned News/Events, Large Newsroom
  • NPR’s Coverage of Election Night 2016, NPR
  • Electionland, ProPublica and the Electionland Coalition
  • WSJ: Election Graphics, The Wall Street Journal
Explanatory Reporting, Small Newsroom
  • Middle East Lobbying: The Influence Game, Al-Monitor
  • The Refugee Archipelago: The Inside Story of What Went Wrong in Greece, Refugees Deeply / News Deeply
  • Game of Genomes, STAT
  • Sold Out, The Texas Tribune
Explanatory Reporting, Medium Newsroom
  • Trans in Iowa: Fighting for Visibility, Des Moines Register
  • What Happened to Us?, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • Draining Oregon, The Oregonian / OregonLive
  • Under Our Skin, The Seattle Times
Explanatory Reporting, Large Newsroom
  • The Voters Who Gave Trump the White House, Bloomberg News
  • Vanishing, CNN Digital
  • Weigh Anchor, The Globe and Mail
  • Mobile Power, Human Toll, The Washington Post
Topical Reporting, Small Newsroom
  • Truckbeat, Localore: Finding America at WUOT
  • Opioid Coverage, STAT
  • Sold Out, The Texas Tribune
Topical Reporting, Medium Newsroom
  • Who Is Steve Bannon?, NowThis
  • Breaking the Black Box, ProPublica
  • Standing Rock and Beyond, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and Inside Energy
  • Bridging the Divide, The Baltimore Sun
Topical Reporting, Large Newsroom
  • ISIS from All Angles, CNN Digital
  • Guardian US: Outside in America, Guardian News & Media
  • Bullied By the Badge, HuffPost and the Hechinger Report
  • Trump Charities, The Washington Post
Online Commentary
  • Honoring Those Lost to the Oakland Warehouse Fire, KQED
  • Make It Stop, The Boston Globe
  • Race/Related, The New York Times
  • Vox First Person, Vox Media
Sports, Small/Medium Newsrooms
  • Berlin Marathon 2016 – How Fast Your City Runs, Berliner Morgenpost
  • The Gravity-Defying Physics of Simone Biles, Quartz
Sports, Large Newsroom
  • The Art of Letting Go, ESPN The Magazine
  • Francesco Totti King of Rome, La Repubblica
  • Rio Olympics, The New York Times
  • Marc Spears Sports, The Undefeated
Feature, Small Newsroom
  • Dope Sick, STAT
  • AMERICA RELOADED: The Bizarre Story Behind the FBI’s Fake Documentary About the Bundy Family, The Intercept | First Look Media
  • The Accusation, The Marshall Project
  • Wear and Tear, Undark
Feature, Medium Newsroom
  • A Year At Encina, Capital Public Radio
  • The Business of Inequality, Harvard Business Review
  • My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard, Mother Jones
  • A Search for Life on Roads of Death, San Antonio Express-News
Feature, Large Newsroom
  • Inside the Massive Tunnel 60 Feet Below L.A., Los Angeles Times
  • Central African Republic, National Geographic
  • The Fine Line, The New York Times
  • Understanding Hillary Clinton, Vox Media
The David Teeuwen Student Journalism Award, Small
  • City of Smoke: Air Pollution in the Land of the Eternal Blue Sky, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
  • A Town Divided, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
The David Teeuwen Student Journalism Award, Large
  • Death Denied, The Medill Justice Project
  • Cuba’s New Wave, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism
Pro-Am Student Award
  • Surviving the City, International Reporting Program, University of British Columbia, The Guardian, BBC News, Toronto Star
  • Turning Tides: The Story of the Salton Sea, USC/JOVRNALISM and The Desert Sun staff
The University of Florida Award for Investigative Data Journalism, Small/Medium Newsrooms
  • Boomtown, Flood Town, ProPublica and The Texas Tribune
  • Shoot to Kill, The Baltimore Sun
  • Trial and Terror, The Intercept | First Look Media
The University of Florida Award for Investigative Data Journalism, Large Newsroom
  • Big Money, Unlikely Donors, Los Angeles Times
  • Bias on the Bench, Sarasota Herald Tribune
  • Why Cops Shoot, Tampa Bay Times / tampabay.com
  • Unfounded, The Globe and Mail
  • Unnatural Causes, The Washington Post
Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Small Newsroom
  • Future Cities, Future Cities
  • TruckBeat, Localore: Finding America at WUOT
Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Medium
  • Titletown, TX, McClatchy
  • Boomtown, Flood Town, ProPublica and The Texas Tribune
Excellence and Innovation in Visual Digital Storytelling, Large Newsroom
  • Bound. Tortured. Killed., Toronto Star
  • Fragments of a Life: A Curbside Mystery, The New York Times
  • A New Age of Walls, The Washington Post
Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling, Small
  • Frontier of Change, Independent | Producing Station: KNBA
  • The Long Shot, Science Friday
  • Signal Podcast, STAT
Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling, Medium/Large Newsroom
  • Containers, Fusion Media Group
  • The Wall, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting
  • Stand at the Edge of Geologic Time, NPR
Excellence in Immersive Storytelling
  • Cash Cow, Al Jazeera English
  • After Solitary, FRONTLINE and Emblematic Group
  • Fight for Falluja, The New York Times
Gannett Foundation Award for Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism
  • BBC News Labs: Stitch, BBC
  • APIs and Data from ProPublica’s Represent, ProPublica
  • Live Notifications, The Guardian US Mobile Innovation Lab
The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Small Newsroom
  • Drinks, Dinners, Junkets and Jobs: How the Insurance Industry Courts State Commissioners, The Center for Public Integrity
  • Code of Silence, The Intercept | First Look Media
  • Jay Peak’s Path to Fraud, VTDigger.org
The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Medium Newsroom
  • The Rent Racket, ProPublica
  • Against Their Will: Sexual Exploitation in Pot Country, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting
  • Lax Safety at the Shipyards, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting
  • Toxic Armories, The Oregonian / OregonLive
  • Quantity of Care, The Seattle Times
The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Large Newsroom
  • Car Insurance, ProPublica and Consumer Reports
  • Maternal Mortality, ProPublica and NPR
  • Doctors & Sex Abuse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Unfounded, The Globe and Mail
  • Unlawful Coercion in Psychiatric Wards, VG
Knight Award for Public Service
  • Death Behind Bars, Reno Gazette-Journal
  • Doctors & Sex Abuse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Toxic Armories, The Oregonian / OregonLive
  • Fire and Death in Canada’s First Nations, Toronto Star
General Excellence in Online Journalism, Small Newsroom
  • Nexo Jornal, nexojornal.com.br
  • PublicSource, publicsource.org
  • STAT, statnews.com
  • The Marshall Project, themarshallproject.org
  • The Texas Tribune, texastribune.org
General Excellence in Online Journalism, Medium Newsroom
  • Le Temps, letemps.ch
  • ProPublica, propublica.org
  • San Antonio Express-News, expressnews.com
General Excellence in Online Journalism, Large Newsroom
  • PolitiFact, politifact.com
  • The Globe and Mail, theglobeandmail.com
  • The New York Times, nytimes.com

The judges for finalists were:

  • Chris Amico, Interactive Editor, FRONTLINE
  • Ted Anthony, Director of Asia-Pacific News, The Associated Press
  • Trushar Barot, Digital Launch Editor, BBC Indian Languages
  • Heather Bryant, Director, Project Facet
  • Matt Carroll, Professor, Northeastern University
  • Flor Coelho, New Media Research and Training Manager, LA NACION
  • Jenn Crandall, Artist-in-Residence, Alabama Media Group
  • Meghann Farnsworth, Engagement Editor, Recode
  • Kim Fox, Managing Editor, Audience, Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com
  • Joshua Hatch, Assistant Managing Editor, Data and Interactives, The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Karin Hedensjo Pettersson, Political Editor-in-Chief, Aftonbladet
  • Robert Hernandez, Associate Professor of Professional Practice, USC Annenberg School of Journalism
  • Liz Heron, Independent Digital Strategist
  • Elise Hu, International Correspondent, NPR
  • Rich Jaroslovsky, Vice President for Content & Chief Journalist, SmartNews Inc.
  • Mitra Kalita, VP, Programming, CNN Digital
  • Scott Klein, Deputy Managing Editor, ProPublica
  • Martin Kotynek, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, ZEIT ONLINE, Berlin
  • Jacqui Maher, Head of Interactives, Vogue International
  • Rebekah Monson, Co-founder, VP product, WhereBy.Us
  • Miguel Paz, Professor, Graduate School of Journalism, City University of New York (CUNY)
  • Andy Pergam, Vice President, Video and New Ventures, McClatchy
  • Rhyne Piggott Editor, Data and Interactive Journalism @ WNYC
  • Mariana Santos, Founder, Chicas Poderosas
  • Michelle Srbinovich, General Manager, WDET, Detroit’s public radio station
  • Nabil Wakim, Director of Editorial Innovation, Le Monde, Paris
  • Aaron Williams, Graphics Reporter, Washington Post
  • Hannah Wise, Engagement Editor, The Dallas Morning News
  • Tim Wong, Sr. Director, UX & Design
  • Jenny Ye, Data Director, WNYC


* Judges were recused from discussing categories in which their own organizations were entered.

Launched in 2000, the OJAs are the only comprehensive set of journalism prizes honoring excellence in digital journalism.

About ONA

The Online News Association is the world’s largest association of online journalists. ONA’s mission is to inspire innovation and excellence among journalists to better serve the public. The membership includes news writers, producers, designers, editors, bloggers, technologists, photographers, academics, students and others who produce and distribute news for digital delivery systems. ONA also hosts the annual Online News Association annual conference and administers the Online Journalism Awards.

About Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

About the Gannett Foundation

The Gannett Foundation is a corporate foundation sponsored by Gannett Co., Inc. whose mission is to invest in the future of the communities in which Gannett does business, and in the future of our industry. It supports projects that take a creative approach to fundamental issues such as education and neighborhood improvement, economic development, youth development, community problem-solving, assistance to disadvantaged people, environmental conservation and cultural enrichment.

About the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications

The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications is driving innovation and engagement across the disciplines of advertising, journalism, public relations and telecommunication. The strength of its programs, faculty, students and alumni — in research and in practice — has earned the college ongoing recognition as one of the best in the nation among its peers. The college offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and certificates, both online and on campus. The college’s strength is drawn from both academic rigor and experiential learning. The college includes seven broadcast and digital media properties and the nation’s only chair in public interest communications.

About Journalism 360

Journalism 360 is a global network of storytellers accelerating the understanding and production of immersive journalism. Our mission is to help news organizations, journalists, technologists, content creators and journalism educators experiment with all forms of immersive storytelling, including but not limited to 360 video, augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality. Its founding partners are the Knight Foundation, Google News Lab and the Online News Association.

Jennifer Mizgata is a program director with over 12 years of experience creating industry-changing training programs, investing in award-winning projects, and managing key relationships with journalism partners and tech stakeholders. As Director of Programs at the Online News Association, she leads many of ONA’s flagship diversity, leadership and grant programs, including the Women’s Leadership Accelerator, an intensive program aimed squarely at advancing women in digital journalism. A digital strategist dedicated to public service, Jennifer has spent her career building communities online and offline. Before joining ONA, she served as the first social media lead in the U.S. for the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations agency fighting hunger worldwide. A writer, editor and photographer, she has both led editorial coverage and done freelance work for a range of outlets.