WNYC, EarthFix lead pubmedia’s award winners at ONA 2012

By Andrew Lapin

SAN FRANCISCO — Public media continues to earn accolades for its online innovations, as multiple outlets racked up trophies at the Online News Association’s awards ceremony Sept. 22.

Hosted by PBS NewsHour correspondent Hari Sreenivasan, the gala banquet sought to honor the year’s best work in online journalism across all media outlets. Award categories reflect the size of the operation: small sites, with fewer than 25 full-time employees; medium, more than 25 but fewer than 100; and large, more than 100.

With two trophies each, public broadcasting’s big winners were WNYC in New York and EarthFix, the CPB-backed Local Journalism Center focusing on environment issues in the Pacific Northwest.

WNYC won for medium sites in the breaking news category for its newsroom blog’s coverage of Hurricane Irene and in the topical reporting category for Ailsa Chang’s report on the New York City police department’s “stop-and-frisk” procedures. WLRN in Miami also won the Gannett Foundation Award for Innovative Investigative Journalism in the small category in conjunction with StateImpact Florida.

EarthFix won for small sites in the topical reporting and explanatory reporting categories for its focus on environmental topics.

WGBH’s Frontline received the general excellence award in online journalism for small sites. And for its Middle East Voices project, Voice of America Radio won for topical reporting for large sites.

It was also a good year for online journalism nonprofits. ProPublica received the general excellence award for medium sites, while California Watch won the Gannett Foundation Award for Innovative Investigative Journalism, medium sites.

The biggest round of applause of the evening came when Homicide Watch D.C., a pioneering crowd-funded crime reporting site, received a standing ovation for its Knight Award for Public Service.

WNYC and ProPublica are repeat winners from the 2011 ONA awards ceremony, when NPR Music and Voice of San Diego also won awards.

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