ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Judges picking winners in the Web site categories of NPPA's 2008 Best Of Photojournalism competition have released the following results, along with judges' comments, from the contest's host site at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies.
Judges of BOP's Web categories are Ellyn Angelotti, an adjunct faculty member and editor for The Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, FL; Michelle Maltais, a deputy editor of business and technology for the Los Angeles Times' Web site; Irwin Thompson, the deputy director of photography for The Dallas Morning News; Seth M. Gitner, a multimedia journalist for Roanoke.com and The Roanoke Times; and Thea Breite, multimedia photography editor for The Boston Globe.
Here are the results and the judges' comments:
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News Photo Gallery (Independent)
Strong photography with great emotion, excellent composition and good storytelling moments. We really like that the first several photographs were black and white and the first time the viewer was hit with color, it really mattered. It was an image of bloody footprints that was a strong contrast to the previous black and white. The gallery could have been edited a bit tighter. We thought the galleries might have been stronger if they were combined. The judges were put off by a few user unfriendly issues in the presentation. There was too much text on the intro page. It needs to be broken up into shorter chunks. Also, was hard to read over the photograph. The captions were uneven. Some were too short and some too long. Also would be more readable if the text were pure white and it would be nice from a user point of view if you didn't have to mouse over the photo for captions. Difficult not to take note that this is old work but because it was published this year, it qualifies. Nevertheless, it was very strong photojournalism. - Thea Breite
News Photo Gallery (Under)
Virginia Tech Shooting
This gallery captured all the key moments of this breaking news story – especially illustrating the raw emotions. The interface is user friendly and the captions are easy to read. This gallery might have benefitted from a tighter edit. Overall we found this to be a very strong package. - Ellyn Angelotti
Timothy Workman Trial
Interesting use of photography to tell a trial story. Captures the emotion and interaction of the trial's participants in an engaging manner – not just a text version of the story and more arresting than video might have been. Could have used a short explainer on the trial for those coming into it cold.
Very well done. It’s hard to get that much access in a court and they took advantage of it. Great stuff. - Michelle Maltais
News Photo Gallery (Over)
We came to the conclusion that the interface and concept brought the MSNBC piece to the top. We'd like there to be more innovative thought in the presentation of galleries beyond the traditional forward/back buttons. We can see news organizations taking cues from this project for years to come.
We thought there were opportunities to take the layers of content beyond the images presented with more of drill down – maybe google mapping and more stories within, but our hopes are this will make people think about going the distance with storytelling using galleries and the web.
The Providence Journal gallery definitely had the best "photojournalism" though – very nice in form with very good sequencing. The Dallas Morning News piece took the viewer into the piece; it was very emotional and had an established beginning middle and end. - Seth Gitner
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Feature Photo Gallery (Independent)
We talked about changing the Independent category because some of the judges didn’t think the work reflected was strong enough. Seth pointed out that he was hoping the work reflected photographers who were doing great work on the web. It didn’t show in this category.
Andrew Testa’s pictures on the protesters were very powerful. He had a variety of shots that told the story. He covered it like a news story with wide, medium and tight shots. Seth thought it was a great story, and it was wonderfully executed.
Andrew’s Trafficking essay took second place. This was a very difficult subject to do, and the photographer did an excellent job pulling it off. Thea thought the pictures were eerie, quiet and well done and it showed that the photographer was passionate about the story. - Irwin Thompson
Feature Photo Gallery (Under)
1st Roanoke photos of the week 5/18/07
The judges felt this collection of photographs presented a chance for viewers to peer into the lives of ordinary people. Voyeuristic while displaying an artistic lens.
2nd Roanoke photos of the week 6/29/07
3rd Rod Run Relations
The gallery offered an innovative take on capturing the spirit of the car show by juxtaposing people and autos. Toward the end, however, the details connecting the couplings were a little more difficult to discern. - Michelle Maltais
Feature Photo Gallery (Over)
1st Dressed for Success, The Dallas Morning News
This is a great way to present a news story (signing day) in a unique, feature photo gallery. The concept and photography are strong, and is tightly edited. We like the use of the unique lens.
2nd Two Towns, One Border, The Dallas Morning News
Solid photography with good storytelling. It was one of the few galleries in this category that attempted to tell a story, rather than a collection of images randomly put together.
3rd Mental Hospital, Somalia, The New York Times
Strong photographs weakened by poor captions and in some cases, no captions
Little People, Day 2
There were some very strong photographs in here but it needed a much tighter edit.
NPR Identical Strangers
This was a great story, presented well but we wanted to see some documentary photographs of the twins right now. - Thea Breite
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Sports Photo Gallery (Under)
…and the winner in the blue corner is “Ruckus in the cage." This was hands-down the best entry in this category. It was tightly edited and told the story from the start to finish, capturing the raw emotion of the fight that goes on in the cage.
Being beautifully photographed in black and white really emphasized the gritty nature of this topic. The pictures were striking and powerful. The other entries had too many photographs in their galleries. Edit, edit, edit, no redundancy. - Irwin Thompson
Sports Photo Gallery (Over)
The Los Angeles Times' "Difficult Season" had the best captions of any entry in the gallery contest, informative, and a good read. All photographers should strive to emulate captions such as these. We did feel that the sequencing was out of order and confusing. When you do galleries make sure you tell a story with your images.
We felt there were images toward the end that could have been brought up to the front and give the 29 image gallery better pacing. We liked how although it was a school for the deaf's football team -- the fact that the players were deaf was not "in your face."
The New York Times piece was refreshing for a gallery in this category -- only 10 images -- and we all felt that we wanted to see more. The photographer worked the situations, each picture led the viewer through the gallery. We wish more entries had this type of thoughtful sequencing and editing. It's not the amount of images entered it's whether the story is told in the sequence the pictures are entered. - Seth Gitner
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The Gulf Coast's Struggle Back - MSNBC
It was a real challenge for us to make this decision. We went back and forth on 3 very different galleries. In the end, we had to return to the point system to help us make our decision. We awarded the MSNBC gallery Best Picture Gallery in the end because it was innovative and it told a strong story in a very direct and user-friendly way and its design was quite simple and strong.
We are well aware that the photos themselves are not what one would consider brilliant photojournalism. But the entire package was very powerful. And it told a powerful story--After all this time, very little was done. It was told in a very dispassionate way, which was its strength.
We also really liked Dress for Success. The idea itself was very smart, the photography was really well done and the design was clean and user friendly. It was a very different way of covering Signing Day.
Our third contender was Roanoke's gallery on Virginia Tech. The photos were strong, and mostly well-edited. We had a few issues with the choice of photos at the end, however. - Thea Breite
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News Audio Slide Show (Independent)
We all liked Pedaling Against Pollution because it was simple and the images matched with the audio. It had wonderful quotes that told the story of biking in Paris. It could have been enhanced with more natural sounds of bikes throughout the slideshow. Some of the interviews were over modulated. The others in the category were either too long, needed to be edited tighter or the music was overbearing.
Block G8 was too long and had a guitar solo in the middle for what seemed to be for no reason, and it had no ambient sound until the end.
Edit your slideshows, tell your story and get out. You don’t have to use every picture and wait until the song ends to end your slideshow. Make it short for impact. Most online users will not sit through long presentations. - Irwin Thompson
News Audio Slide Show (Under)
The Becker family's story really moved the judges. The daughter's audio provide an additional perspective that pulled on the judges heart strings. The storytelling was strong. The audio levels were consistent, although a little loud at times. The photography was stronger in the Roanoke Times' audio story, Moving day - which came in at a close second. A common weakness in this category was grammatical errors in captions. - Ellyn Angelotti
News Audio Slide Show (Over)
Both of the Los Angeles Times' pieces were innovative. First place was a clear winner. The production crew and photographer were definitely thinking about how to best tell the story - we were wondering if the idea to do it "flip book style" was preconceived or whether it was after the fact and figured out in post production - either way - it mixed with the scanner traffic made it all very very engaging. We felt like the police were pushing us back. If done in video it would have had a completely different effect overall. The time compression using the stills was very effective. Great thinking by the team to pull it altogether. Second place was a picture series that brought the viewer into the world of the photographer. The piece mixed with the scanner traffic really engaged us. Just hearing the voice of the man on the radio saying "we are deploying" the fire suits was fully engaging and then seeing the sequence of it occurring took it home. We did think that there were repeated images that took away from the overall piece - although similar it was not in our minds the same as the first place winner in style. Both were intense situations that the photographers were able to be witness to.
"Continuous War," Cluster Bombs in South Lebanon. The narration was engaging and had a storybook feel, the story was written to the images and was heartfelt, but we just would like to see more use of ambient and natural sound to really engage the viewer beyond a narration. Because there was lack of natural sound we could not award it a third place, so HM was awarded for recognition. - Seth Gitner
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Feature Audio Slideshow (Independent)
This was a very hard category to judge. There was a lot of back and forth between the judges. We awarded 'The Hotel' first place. 'The Hotel' was the only project of our top four favorites where the photographer actually went out to do the story with the inclination that they were doing a multimedia project. There was ambient audio throughout. With the other projects it seemed as if audio was an after thought -- they relied heavily on interviews and music to keep the viewer engaged. Photographer's need to see audio gathering as part of what they do from the start of a story. If you put a disk in your camera for images you need to put a disk in your audio recorder for sound.
MediaStorm's ninth floor had the best photography overall, but lacked ambient sound beyond interviews until the end when the viewer sees the baby. It felt like an afterthought. We also felt if it had been shortened from 13 minutes or so to 5 or 6 minutes it would have been a lot more engaging. Sometimes cutting the piece to a tighter edit can benefit a project. Third place -- Autism -- needed ambient audio. The scream at start was amazingly engaging -- but that was the ONLY ambient audio in the piece.
We awarded honorable mention to the chicken boy -- the music helped set a pace for the story and the kid's voice was so good we chuckled quite a lot watching the piece. But again, this story lacked ambient audio which is as important to the piece as the photographs are. - Seth Gitner
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Feature Audio Slideshow(Under)
1st - Street Preacher – The judges found this piece utterly engaging. The story was compelling, with strong photography, tight interviews and crisp ambient audio working hand in hand to move the narrative forward. The pace of the piece was perfect, the character inviting. One recurring disappointment that should be worked on: captions from this publication continue to be incomplete. A finished product should be, well, finished.
2nd - Down to the Corps – This was a fine use of ambient audio with a different twist on an oft-told tale. The use of a wry-voiced man reading a letter of a soldier to capture a moment was
Assuming the reader was the father, it would have been nice to see a shot of him.
3rd - Raising Emilie – This entry made nice use of ambient audio to complement the points being made in the narration and illustrated by the photography – more showing than just telling. - Michelle Maltais
Honorable Mention - Surviving Renovation, Roanoke
This was a wonderful story with a fabulously colorful character and if this piece had natural sound, it would really have made it strong. We really wanted to hear that drill, hear her shuffling around the house, wielding that hammer. - Thea Breite
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Feature Audio Slideshow (Over)
1st - The winner, The Washington Post's "Fixing D.C. Schools: One school's struggle" stood out among the other 70+ entries for its incredible, moving photography enhanced by ambient sound. Besides a weak opening, it had all of the elements you could possibly want in an audio story. The journalist(s) captured key moments with both the photography and the audio. They also made made great choices in editing that resulted in a smooth overall story. The great use of transitional pictures served as visual cues for the next picture. The ambient music didn't overpower the story (with an exception for the music at one point). The way the characters told their story themselves contributed to the completeness of the story.
2nd - For the second place winner, we liked how the Chicago Tribune used a variety of voices to tell the story in "Our Hidden Poor," but we would have preferred fewer voices with deeper perspectives. The on-screen text contributed to the storytelling and helped to pace the story. The third place choice, the Washington Post's "Fair Weather Fun," nice combination of stills, narration and ambient audio. It was perfect length. The audio commentary fits perfectly. The photography captures the action without having to use other devices. We felt the main flaw of this story was the weak ending.
Honorable Mention - We chose three honorable mentions. Boston.com's "Office Casual" for its interesting concept; Chicago Tribune's "The Paintball Project" for it's strong visual and striking natural sounds; and www.aftonbladet.se's "Helen Thomas, (87)" was sophisticated in its simplicity. - Ellyn Angelotti
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Sports Audio Slideshow (Independent)
1st - A new beginning
Nice photography, tightly edited. It could have used more vibrant natural sound in between the interviews to really bring us into the experience...bouncing balls, cheering, breathing, the bench., etc.
2nd - Batting around.
Nice little story but really could have benefited from much tighter editing of both the audio and photography.
There were very few entries in this category and I would love to encourage more. - Thea Breite
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Sports Audio Slideshow (Under)
1st - First and Goals
2nd - Sporting Life
We all agreed that “First and Goals” was hands down the best in this category. It was an imaginative way to show the first day of high school football practice. The natural sound enriched the story. It had a wide variety of pictures, wide, medium and details that made a story that has been done before visually interesting.
Although we thought a few pictures should have been flip-flopped “Sporting Life” still took second place with strikingly beautiful pictures of a rowing team practice. The coach using the bullhorn audio really blasted in the middle of the slideshow, and we thought the pictures of the coach using the bullhorn should have been used when the the audio was introduced. - Irwin Thompson
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Sports Audio Slideshow (Over)
1st - Scott City Demolition derby
Strong natural sound, with nice, quirky photos that gave you a sense of the characters as well as the place. The audio worked really nicely with the images. It was edited tightly–just the right length.
2nd - Base jumping
Had a nice, video feel with time lapse style. Mimicked the "wow" factor of the actual sport. Lots of nice angles, loved the sequence in the earlier part where the jumpers jumped through the frame, but we think the piece should have started with that instead of with the combined voices; that weakened the piece. Also we thought it had a nice ending but the music really hurt this piece. It was relentless. - Thea Breite
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Fixing D.C. Schools, The Washington Post
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Soul of Athens
In addition to compelling videos, Soul of Athens used interactive graphics and user interactivity (using a Flickr group) to create the strongest multimedia Web site in this category. Every aspect was very well done. We especially appreciated the use of interactive graphics to visually explain the population of Athens and the Ohio University Eco House. These graphics harnessed the power of the web to add an additional layer to the storytelling.
Honorable Mentions: We awarded honorable mentions to the University of North Carolina photography workshop project "On the Line" and MediaStorm's "Black Market." We felt the timeline in "On the Line" brought together the stories being told through video on the site. "Black Market" provided extended video commentary which enhanced the video presentation of the main story. We also liked the inclusion of comments and the transcript. - Ellyn Angelotti
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1st - Not Just a Number
2nd - Hellgate
This was a difficult category for us to judge because each entry had a little of everything we were looking for, but none had them all. There are holes in multimedia packages that are being produced across the country. We need better graphics, photography, audio, video, interactive designs, and usability to make a package work.
To make a more comprehensive package, photographers, editors, graphic designers, and reporters should collaborate at the beginning of a story. None of the entries brought together elements of strong visual journalism and the technology of the web.
We chose “Not Just A Number” because it was absorbing and it best utilized the power of the web, although it could have been refined. It was hard to navigate, but it was loaded with great graphics, databases, videos, photos, and audio. We also thought the map should have been used as the interface for the project.
“Hellgate” came in second because it had a lot of good elements and a design. Also, it was easy to navigate throughout the site. - Irwin Thompson
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1st - Reporting For Duty, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
2nd - Johanna: Facing Forward, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH
The Crossing, Rocky Mountain News
No Easy Way Home, The Press Enterprise
Vital Signs Of A Warming World, MSNBC.com
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1st - Black Market, MediaStorm.org
2nd - Be Not Afraid, Soul Of Athens
3rd - The Women Of Evangel: Healing And Hope, Western Kentucky University
1st - Sketchy Evidence: The Tim Masters Story, The Denver Post
2nd - The Dragon And The G-Man, The News & Record
3rd - Looking Back At Donna, The Naples Daily News
1st - Crisis In Darfur Expands, The Washiington Post and Washingtonpost.com
2nd - Band Of Brothers, The Detroit Free Press
3rd - The Girls, The Globe & Mail
Honorable Mention - The Boy In The Moon, The Globe & Mail
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1st - Kentucky Reptile Zoo, Milesfrommaybe Productions
2nd - Surgery Of The Soul, Soul Of Athens
1st - Getting The Boot, Lexington Herald-Leader
2nd - Season To Share: Charles & Alex Johnson, The Palm Beach Post
3rd - Drum Corps, PointsSouth, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies
1st - Dail: Life Unbarred, The News & Observer
2nd - Raven and Jason, The Globe & Mail
3rd - Raging Asian Women, The Toronto Star
Honorable Mention - Flying High In Smithtown, Newsday
Honorable Mention - A Farm Family, The Globe & Mail
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1st - Virginia Tech Tragedy: A Friend's Loss, Jenn Ackerman
2nd - Able To Serve, Unable To Give, CommissionStories.com
3rd - Drum Circle, Jenn Ackerman
1st - Virginia Tech Thanks The World, The Roanoke Times
2nd - First In Line On Black Friday, The Roanoke Times
3rd - CalTrans Worker Safety, The Oakland Tribune
1st - War Protest, Detroit Free Press
2nd - Return To Haifa Street, The New York Times
Honorable Mention - Army Spc. McCants Is Laid To Rest, San Antonio Express-News
Honorable Mention - Five-Alarm Warehouse Fire, The Dallas Morning News
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Each day at 1 p.m. EST during the judging The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, in partnership with NewsU, will host a live series of Webcasts from the Best Of Photojournalism judging. By watching, you'll get an inside look at the Still Photography and Web categories as they're judged, and Poynter's host Kenneth F. Irby will conduct a 15-minute live interview and conversation with a different BOP judge each day. In case you miss the daily Web cast they will be archived on the Poynter Web site. They're free, and you can enroll in the NewsU "course" online here.
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Photographers from more than 140 countries entered this year's Best Of Photojournalism competition, which has remained a free contest with no entry fees since its beginning. More than 4,000 people entered the contest, up more than 25 percent over last year, and there are more than 21,000 entries totally over 58.000 individual items (photogrpahs, clips, and Web sites).