And the Winners Are …

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By: Steve Outing

On Saturday I announced the winners of the 1996 Best Online Newspaper Services Competition to an audience at the Interactive Newspapers conference in San Francisco. This was the first time this conference, which recognized outstanding work in the newspaper new media field, was held. (It was sponsored by Editor & Publisher and The Kelsey Group, with the support of Adobe, Apple and Netscape.) The competition was stiff, and winners represent some fine examples of what can be accomplished online.

Today, I’d like to suggest that you take some time to review the winning sites. Below, I’ll provide links to the sites, and excerpt some of the comments by our team of judges about the winners. When you click on the links below, you will see comments about the winning entry and a direct link to the site.

The awards

Best Overall Online Newspaper Service

1st place – Large-circulation newspaper category:
San Jose Mercury News / Mercury Center

1st place – Small-circulation newspaper category:
Warfield’s Tampa Bay Review / Review.net

Honorable mention – Small-circulation newspaper category:
National Law Journal

Best Designed

1st place – Large-circulation newspaper category:
New York Times On the Web

1st place – Small-circulation newspaper category:
Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram

Honorable mention – Small-circulation newspaper category:
Vorarlberger Nachrichten

Strongest News Content

1st place – Large-circulation newspaper category:
New York Times On the Web

1st place – Small-circulation newspaper category:
Standard Times (New Bedford, Mass., USA)

Best Original Feature

1st place – Large-circulation newspaper category:
San Jose Mercury News / Newshound

Honorable mention – Large-circulation newspaper category:
Virginian-Pilot / DataPilot

1st place – Small-circulation newspaper category:
Casper Star-Tribune / First Amendment Cyber-Tribune

Honorable mention – Small-circulation newspaper category:
Nashville Scene / Movie Clock

Best Content Alliance

1st place:
Boston.com / The Boston Globe

Best Niche Service

1st place – Large-circulation newspaper category:
Fastball / Cox Newspapers

1st place – Small-circulation newspaper category:
BayNet / Portland Press Herald

Best Online Classifieds

1st place – Large-circulation newspaper category:
San Jose Mercury News / Mercury Center Web

1st place – small-circulation newspaper category:
No award given

Best Use of Interactive Advertising

1st place – Large-circulation newspaper category:
No award given

1st place – small-circulation newspaper category:
No award given

Best Online News Service by a Non-Newspaper Company

1st place:
Pathfinder / Time Daily

More judges’ comments:

All of the comments you’ve just seen are, of course, quite complimentary; these are the winners, after all. Some of the judges’ comments about the other entries also contain a wealth of information, and I plan to make those available in a few days. That will take a little time to put together, so please be patient and I’ll return later in the week with a way for you to access more of the judges’ comments.

Several people have asked me to publish specific comments about specific services; don’t “pull your punches,” they have suggested, since there is much to be learned from the judges’ criticisms of the online sites. I will publish the judges’ criticisms, but I will not be publicly linking those comments to specific sites. This was discussed at length among those involved in organizing this contest, and the consensus was that it would be unfair to target specific services so early in the evolution of the online newspaper services business. Many such services are very young, operating with modest staffs. It is our feeling that they should be encouraged for the work they are doing; pointing out their specific weaknesses (since some of the judges’ comments were quite critical) in public would be counterproductive.

I think you will find the anonymous comments that I do publish to be of considerable educational value, and the judges and I hope that through reading these critiques you will find some techniques and advice that will help improve your own online service.

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This column is written by Steve Outing and underwritten by Editor & Publisher magazine. Tips, letters and feedback can be sent to Steve at steve@planetarynews.com

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