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Janensch on the Media: Honoring News on the Web
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The duPont-Columbia University Awards for outstanding radio and television journalism were announced recently.  One of the winners was a non-traditional news outlet, as explained by media commentator Paul Janensch.

PJ COPY: The duPont-Columbia Awards for radio and television journalism are the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prizes for newspaper journalism.  They are named for the late Alfred duPont of the DuPont Company and administed by the Columbia Journalism School.  Twelve of the 13 awards this year went to work presented by mainstream operations.  WFAA-TV in Dallas won the Gold Baton for three investigative reports.  It’s the first local station to win the top prize.  Silver Batons were awarded for TV reports seen on ABC, CNN, HBO, PBS Oregon Public Broadcasting and local stations in Washington and Tampa.  The radio winners all were in the public radio sector – NPR, PRI and Chicago Public Radio.  There were no winners in the commercial radio sector.  The non-traditional winner was Current TV, which is a cable and web information service.  Current TV and reporter-producer Christof Putzel won for “a courageous report about the neo-Nazi movement in Russia and its use of the Internet to spread hate.”  Current TV’s web site is not just a little brother to its cable operation, but is at least equal to it.  The company is led by former Vice President Al Gore and his partner Joel Hyatt.  It’s worth noting that another winner entry – “The Giant Pool of Money,” about the beginnings of the economic collapse told in an easy-to-understand way – was heard over public radio.  But beyond that, a podcast of the report was downloaded from the web more than 500-thousand times.  Next time the duPont-Columbia awards will accept entries that were presented ONLY on the web.  No traditional radio or TV exposure will be necessary.  In a related development, the Pulitzer Prizes, also administered by the Columbia Journalism School, are accepting entries this year made up entirely of web-only content – in addition to entries published in newspapers.  These are signs that the web is maturing as a news medium.  Yes, it is crowded with blogs, full of opinion and free of independently-gathered facts.  And mainstream news outlets use of the web as a supplement.  But I like this trend of providing original reporting on the web, and I look forward to seeing duPont batons and Pulitzer Prizes going to stand-alone online news sites in the future.
Media commentator Paul Janensch is a former newspaper editor who teaches journalism at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

Media commentator Paul Janensch is a former newspaper editor who teaches journalism at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.