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Online San Diego

From the November 28, 1997 ComputorEdge (Issue 1548)

By Jim Trageser

This past summer, I wrote about the results of the online categories in the annual journalism contest sponsored by the San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists – the second year they've offered Web competition. Now, the San Diego Press Club ( has also added Web sites to its annual journalism contest.

At the 24th Annual San Diego Press Club Journalism Awards banquet on Oct. 23, there were five categories in the Web sites portion of the evening. The categories in this year's initial online competition were Best Writing, Best Webcast, Best Commercial Website, Best Non-Profit Website and Best Use of Design & Graphics.

The big winner was SignOn San Diego (, the Web site of the San Diego Union-Tribune. They took three first places, in Best Writing, Best Webcast and Design & Graphics. They also took honorable mention in Best Commercial Site. San Diego Source (, run by the San Diego Daily Transcript) took two second places and an honorable mention – not bad for a crew about a quarter the size of the U-T's.

Other winners included San Diego Online (, San Diego Magazine) for best commercial site and the County of San Diego for Best Non-Profit Website. And talk-show host Roger Hedgecock ( of KOGO-AM grabbed a second for best Webcast.

I was surprised none of the sites run by TV stations – KGTV 10 (, KNSD 39/7 ( and KFMB 8 ( all have polished full-service sites -- won any awards this year. I don't know if any entered or if they considered the Web categories more of a print arena.

To be honest, the Press Club needs to revisit its Web site categories for next year. Considering this is a journalism awards contest, these weren't particularly news-oriented categories. It would be productive to add categories for real journalistic endeavors like best breaking news story, best photography (as both the TV and newspaper categories have), best continuing series. The judges should be instructed to give extra weight to considerations like how quickly a story is posted to a Web site, how often it is updated, how many different media – sound and video clips, animation where appropriate -- are used in a story.

As it stands now, the Press Club online categories – while certainly welcome – are little more than a gratuitous offering to the growing online community in San Diego, a bone to keep us from growling too loudly.

In years gone by, the Press Club contest was the award to win here in town. However, the SPJ contest has been growing year by year, so that the two are roughly co-equal in honor and prestige. And right now, the SPJ online categories are better organized and better established, as this was their second year offering online awards.

But at present, neither of the two major local journalism contests is giving the online world its due. Some other organization could still step forward and usurp the leadership role SPJ and the Press Club have played in San Diego journalism by creating a truly respectable, competitive online contest.

Whichever contest becomes the standard, the competition at awards time is going to heat up in the years to come. Just in the next year, at least five more major online players will be eligible for awards: Cox has started up its San Diego ( site, Southwestern's Road Runner ( service is strong, AOL's Digital City ( went public on the Web, Microsoft is gearing up its Sidewalk operation – and the North County Times is now up and running. If either of the two other local TV stations will full-time news operations – KUSI 51 or KSWB 69/5 – goes online, that number could be seven, assuming no other players come on the scene.

Which is all for the good – because in the online news competition, we finally break down the walls between radio, TV, magazines and newspapers to see who really is the best at gathering the local news.