Illinois JEA

Digital Categories

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Open to entries from digital media only,
including the online versions of hybrid publications

Best Multimedia Story Package

The coordinated use of different media (some combination of text, photos, illustrations, graphics, video, audio) to tell a story about something of interest to the publication’s audience.
The subject matter may be news, features or sports. The package should consist of at least one written item (with as many hyperlinks as appropriate) and one of the following: a video (at least 60 seconds) that complements the written item; an audio clip (at least 30 seconds) that complements the written item; a photo slideshow or gallery (at least six photos, with captions) that complements the written item; or an interactive graphic that complements the written item. The written item should be more substantial than just a lead-in to the video, audio, photo or graphic elements. The package will be judged on how well the different media work together to tell the story in a manner that draws on the rich capabilities of an online publication.

Best Video Story

A video that tells a story about something of interest to the publication’s audience.
The video may be published as a stand-alone item or as part of a larger multimedia story package. It should not exceed six minutes (under three minutes is encouraged). The subject matter may be news, features or sports. News-oriented videos should contain interviews and b-roll, but more feature-oriented videos may eschew interviews in favor of a visual narrative. Feature videos may include “hype” videos made about a team or an event. Voiceover narration can be used. The use of music must conform with all relevant copyright, licensing or fair use provisions. The video must be available on the publication’s website or on a digital platform maintained by the publication, such as a YouTube or Vimeo channel.

Best Audio Journalism

An audio file that tells a news, feature or sports story about something of interest to the publication’s audience, including opinions and reviews.
This award will go to the single best audio journalism entry, as judged on two main criteria: journalism and listenability.
• Journalism — The entry should make, break or explain the news with journalistic rigor. It should include audio from news events, newsmakers and/or subject-matter experts (including other reporters with firsthand knowledge of a story).
• Listenability — The entry should demonstrate solid mic technique, polished editing and outstanding writing. The entry should include a clear beginning, orienting listeners who may know nothing at all about the subject, and a clear ending, with credits for all relevant contributors and other audio material. Commercial audio should be avoided unless it’s the subject of the entry; its inclusion should comply with fair use guidelines and be properly credited. (Example: A short clip of a movie, song or TV show might be heard in a review or an interview with a star or creator.) Canned background music is discouraged; ambient sound integral to the story is preferred for conveying mood.
The entry must be available on the publication’s website or on the publication’s account with a digital platform (such as SoundCloud, Spotify, Pandora or YouTube).

Best Photo Gallery or Photo Slideshow

A digital gallery or slideshow that tells a story through photos.
To be eligible for judging, the gallery or slideshow must consist of a minimum of six photos. There is no maximum. Viewed as a whole, the photos should tell a story. For example, a gallery depicting an athletic event should cover the event from pregame to postgame. Key moments should be captured. Photos should show variety in subject choice and image composition.

Best Website

A website evaluated on its performance as an online publication.
The site is judged on how well it makes use of the rich journalistic capabilities of being online. These opportunities include the ability to: (1) publish immediately and without the hindrance of space limitations; (2) interact with readers; (3) link to outside sources; (4) publish video, audio, photo slideshows, photo galleries, interactive graphics, blogs and other means of storytelling not available in print; (5) solicit and publish reader-generated content; (6) provide an interactive forum for discussion, debate and sustained conversation. The judging emphasis is on user friendliness, ease of navigation, incorporation of good design principles throughout the site (e.g., dominant visual elements, hierarchy, balance, contrast, flow), interactivity (e.g., comment functions, contact and submission forms, polls, quizzes, games), visual richness, media variety, content diversity, openness to alternative forms of storytelling, use of hyperlinks, coverage of breaking news, frequency of updates and efforts at audience engagement.
NOTE: “Best Website” is not the same as “Best Digital Publication.” The former is based on how well a website satisfies the criteria mentioned above. Any website is eligible for this category, including those that belong to hybrid publications. By contrast, “Best Digital Publication” is an award open solely to online-only publications. The award is based on the total points an online-only publication accumulates in all of the various categories for which it is eligible, including the 20 core categories. 


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