OLD Media Moves

A suggestion for the Loeb awards

November 13, 2009

Felix Salmon, who blogs about business and finance for Reuters, has some suggestions for the Gerald Loeb Awards in business and financial journalism after receiving a call from one of the judges that they’re considering adding online categories.

Salmon writes, “So what happens when the Loeb jury tries to drag itself into the 21st Century and honor online journalism? My guess is that it’s going to be in baby steps: the first winners are going to be newspaper brand extensions like Dealbook or Alphaville, and maybe one of those labor-intensive interactive data dumps that the NYT’s digital team is so good at. (Up until now, the Online award has gone to big Flash-based projects on newspaper websites, which isn’t at all what online journalism is really about.)

“But if the Loeb jury wants to go further and start honoring new and disruptive forms of online journalism, they’re going to face enormous difficulties. First there’s the difficulty in defining what even counts as journalism in the first place. If the awards need to go to professional journalists at accredited media organizations, that automatically excludes 90% of the internet, including highly-respected blogs — Calculated Risk, say, or Mark Thoma, or Nouriel Roubini. And insofar as a few great bloggers get picked up by larger media outlets (Mike Konczal, Baseline Scenario), that’s precisely because those media outlets recognized them as being extremely good online journalism before they were picked up. It’s silly to restrict your awards to people who feel like they can or should accept an offer of being hosted on a major media outlet’s website.

“What’s more, the biggest and most successful game-changers online have been startups: Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, Politico, and the like. In the business space, TechCrunch, The Business Insider, and many others are setting the pace for what can be done with imagination, hard work, and a lean, aggressive attitude. Yet at the same time it’s almost inconceivable that the Loebs would honor Henry Blodget for his work, given his $2 million fine for securities fraud.”

Read more here. Salmon says he’d like to see Loeb Awards for art direction, which would “be a welcome sign that the Loebs award journalism which isn’t just Important but is also accessible and popular and easy to read.”

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