Online Journalism Awards go to innovative news media in Argentina, Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela

Latin American newsrooms won four big honors at the 2018 Online Journalism Awards, prestigious prizes recognizing excellent digital journalism.

Postdata.club, a data journalism site in Cuba, won the General Excellence in Online Journalism award for Micro Newsroom. As noted by the organization itself, it often builds or completes data sets due to the difficulty of obtaining public data on the island.

Judges said Postdata.club “punches above its weight, unafraid to mix platforms or release data. It’s a tough job to do anywhere, but almost inconceivable to do a great job in a place where people didn’t even know it was possible.”

La Nación newspaper from Argentina won the Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling for the Medium/Large Newsroom category for its work “Prosecutor Nisman Phone Interceptions Mapped in Playlists.” The newspaper was also a finalist in the Breaking News, Large Newsroom category for its project, “The Search Operation of the Submarine ARA San Juan.”

“A prosecutor was found dead and 40,000 audios from what he was investigating were leaked. We downloaded everything and what we did, what we love to do, make a database,” Momi Peralta, project manager at La Nación Data, said upon receiving the award. A playlist was created with many of the audio recordings, and the team and volunteers used an open collaboration platform during the project.

AJ+ Español, digital site Animal Político and Pop-Up Newsroom won for Excellence in Collaboration and Partnerships for their elections fact-checking project in Mexico, Verificado 2018. The judges noted that Verificado 2018 was a collaboration between newsrooms, but also the audience, and that it made use of multiple platforms to disseminate information.

“This was a big collaboration to fight fake news in Mexico during the presidential campaign,” as explained by Alba Mora Roca, executive producer at AJ+ Español.

Venezuelan newspaper Correo del Caroní and InfoAmazonia won the Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award for Small Newsroom for their project “Digging into the Mining Arc,” an investigation into the destruction of forests “in the largest mining project in Venezuela.”

Aside from the obvious depth of this investigation, the digital presentation also worked to add value to the text without being a distraction,” the jury said of the winner.

The awards were announced Sept. 15 at a ceremony marking the closure of the 2018 Online News Association Conference. In all, there were 37 awards given, many accompanied with a cash prize.

The OJAs were sponsored by the Knight Foundation, University of Florida, Journalism 360, Gannett Foundation and Democracy Fund.