The latest batch of Online Journalism Awards is a fantastic resource for student newsrooms. In an industry of constantly changing tools, the stories honored in this annual contest from the Online News Association represent excellence in digital journalism and provide models for student media programs to analyze. The 2019 awards were announced Sept. 14 at the ONA conference in New Orleans.
Ranging in category from general excellence to public service, breaking news and digital video storytelling, the contest entries represented online are great for students to explore and interact with on their own or as part of a complete lesson. The OJA site provides background about each project and a little about the reporting approach and impact of each piece, such as “Pain and profit” from The Dallas Morning News.
Teachers can use the set of 2019 winners in a variety of ways. Here’s one simple set of questions for a small-group exercise, full class discussion or individual writing prompt:
- Explain the story and its news value(s).
- How does the story’s format enhance the reader experience?
- Describe the interactive feature(s).
- Consider the role of data in this story. What sources and/or data sets made this story possible? How was the data presented?
- What else about the story stands out to you, and what do you like about it?
Students also can compare award-winning professional work with their own past stories on the same topic. For example, student media programs in Northern California may have covered the Camp Fire story and will benefit from revisiting this award-winning breaking news entry from the San Francisco Chronicle.
The bottom of each page is a gold mine of additional stories labeled as past winners in this category.
Another cool discussion point is a comparison from work across newsroom size. Categories range from large to micro.
And editors or staff leaders looking to develop skills in a particular area may want to focus on one category or area for independent work.