An Evening for Celebrating Innovation

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(This story contains an update to the winners list)

Traditional news organizations shared the spotlight with start-ups as the 2012 Online Journalism Awards were presented in San Francisco Saturday night. The winning entries included projects from journalists around the world and focused on topics including same-sex marriage, immigration and stand your ground laws.

On the closing day of the Online News Association’s 2012 conference, hundreds of online media practitioners gathered in the Hyatt Regency hotel, eagerly awaiting the announcement of the winners of awards in more than 30 categories.

The Online Journalism Awards banquet was hosted by PBS Newshour‘s Hari Sreenivasan for the third consecutive year. He began his performance with an allusion to actor Clint Eastwood’s memorable unscripted performance at the Republican National Convention, after an empty chair was placed next to him.

Award winners were chosen by 35 journalists and new media professionals who made their selections at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The judges included representatives of The Los Angeles Times, CNN International, The Hong Kong Morning Post and Mother Jones magazine.

Awards for General Excellence in Online Journalism went to PBS and Rue89. ONA recognized each for thorough reporting and engaging design.

Preceding the General Excellence Awards were the winners of the Breaking News Awards, including WNYC and the WNYC‘s incorporation of infographics with map data showed readers living in the tristate area where they would be most likely be affected by Hurricane Irene. “Journalism needs more journalists who can code,” said John Keefe during his acceptance speech for WNYC. Three years ago Keefe took his first coding class at the Online News Association conference in San Francisco.

The New York Times‘ Connecting Music and Gesture was described as an “incredible colloboration of journalism and technology coming together.” The Times tied for the award for Explanatory Reporting, Large Site, with the Guardian’s Gay Rights, State by State and Beyond.

Chris and Laura Amico of Homicide Watch D.C. received a standing ovation after the site they ran from their kitchen table for two years won the Knight Award for Public Service at the 2012 Online Journalism Awards. -- Photo by Heikki Polonen/ONA Newsroom

One crowd favorite was winner Homicide Watch D.C. “For everyone who is on their own, building a business from the ground up, this one’s for you,” said Chris Amico in accepting the award for the Knight Award for Public Service. “We mark every death, we remember every victiim and we follow every case,” said his wife and co-founder Laura Amico.

Online News Association student newsroom participant Nicole Chavez accepted the Non-English Projects, Small/Medium Site award for‘s Mexodus.

Launched in 2000 by the Online News Association in partnership with the University of Miami, the Online Journalism Awards are the only such awards in the country, acknowledging outstanding digital journalism websites. Judges evaluate independent, community, nonprofit, major media and international news sites. Through the Gannett Foundation and the Knight Foundation, cash prizes totaling $33,000 accompany eight awards this year.

Full Winners List

Update Oct. 2: The winner for the Feature, Medium category has been changed to the Chronicle of Higher Education for “The Education of Dasmine Cathey.” The award was originally given to the Globe and Mail, which placed its entry into the wrong size category. For more details, please see New Winner for 2012 Online Journalism Award for Feature Medium.