Selecting a single winner in categories that pitch pure-players against industry giants, and start-ups against corporations is never an easy task but that's what the judges have done and here are the stand-out winners from an outstanding competition.
This year's winners were announced Wednesday, 20 April, as part of the first day of WAN-IFRA's Digital Media Europe conference at Palais Liechtenstein Garden Palace, Vienna. The conference continues today and Friday.
Best News Website
The Best News Website inevitably attracts the widest range of worthy of contenders from the largest number of countries.
Perennial star performer Guardian News and Media was singled out for particular mention as it continues to ride a wave of breaking big stories in innovative ways. Judges described its content as “stunning examples of intelligent, responsive, audience-centred design” and singled out “The Counted” for its “high impact visual journalism.”
Sweden's Kvällstidningen Expressen impressed the judges with its “Why the Beggars Come,” which was described as “Outstanding public interest journalism pushing the boundaries of online storytelling.”
This was also the year when the pure players made their mark with both Politico and Quartz among the finalists and when it came to selecting the best of the best the judges went with Quartz for being “visually appealing, full of information” and for the impact of its headlines. Is this the year that pure players come of age? Certainly the judges felt so, concluding that it is; “Great to see QZ's innovative, world-leading approach to digital news creation and distribution making an impact outside the US - outclassing much of the traditional competition.”
Best Entertainment & Lifestyle Website
BAYERN3.de's winning ways were born out of a bid for independence from both the radio program that it developed from, and the corporate image of Bayerischer Rundfunk. Aiming to be visually distinct and instantly recognisable it opts for a bold flexible tile layout and clearly impressed the judges who describe it as having; “Great visuals,” “Easy navigation via images (which we know users like, especially young ones). Very upbeat, full of energy and a visual treat.” It proved a winner, not only with the judges, but also with readers; the new glossy entertainment format has increased visitors five fold.
Leva & Bo by Sweden's Kvällstidningen Expressen also got a special mention for its bold breezy visuals, notable use of photos and catchy sans serif headlines that bring to life the lifestyle site's mix of information snacking and long reads. It's an approach that has seen engagement soar and pageviews double.
Best Use of Online Video
Every year this category grows in leaps and bounds as the sophisticated visuals of the video industry are skilfully adapted to newsroom narratives. Despite powerful competition from BBC News' Visual Journalism team (Life in a town called Mongo), and the powerfully immersive audio of Volkskrant's Klimaatverandering (Climate change) project it was the Guardian News and Media that emerged triumphant.
Building the Bomb; the story of the the US development of nuclear weapons at the Nevada test site is an explosive long read with immersive video and audio material carefully intertwined throughout the interactive narrative. The deciding factor for the judges was the way the Guradian News and Media not only mixed visuals and text but "the great interweaving of historic and contemporary vision."
Best Data Visualisation Project
The very best data visualisations don't just please the designers, they also engage the individual and the BBC News Visual Journalism Team (1) won the judges over with their calculator of how How long would it take you to earn a top footballer's salary? “Clean, fast, and interesting” was the verdict of a panel as delighted by the data presentation as they were dismayed about how little they earned by comparison with Ronaldo.
Verdens Gang came in as runner up with The Norwegian Victims of World War II – a project that took on the immense task of documenting the nearly 12,000 lives lost without at any point drowning the user in data. The judges concluded that not only was it “spectacular,” but it was also a “huge project of great historical value.”
Best News Mobile Service
With mobile the fiercest-fought battleground for news this category is arguably the keenest competition so FAZ - Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung can be delighted to come away as the winner with the News App F.A.Z. DerTAG.
Despite strong competition from ABC Mobile Web of Spain and the UK's Guardian News and Media, it was FAZ that came top of the leader board due to “the exceptionally smart approach to collaborative, research-led design.”
Best Entertainment and Lifestyle Mobile Service
“Life is too short for boring television,” according to Norway's Dagbladet and the jury had to agree with the newspaper's SE TV Guide app a clear winner for a young audience looking not just for listings, but for suggestions about what to watch.
Best in Tablet Publishing
Another category that goes from strength to strength every year; the shoot-out for tablets proved to be one of the closest with DIE WELT Edition Digitale Zeitung just edging out Marca Plus from Unidad Editorial.
Die Welt Edition won particular praise for the way that its design “speaks the language of the rest of Die Welt” making a great extension of the brand while Marca Plus was praised for its magazine-influenced approach with mobile extensions and, in the words of one sporting judge: “A great product much appreciated by those sports fans. Bravo, buenîsimo!”
Best Reader Engagement
Every digital product or service lives or dies by its reader engagement so this category is a notably hard field to excel in.
There again excelling is exactly what the BBC News Visual Journalism Team is noted for and its coverage of the UK General Election was judged to have set the standard with its thoughtful use of different technologies and blend of visuals and data. As one judge put it: “Technically impeccable. Few things impress me, but this one does.”
The BBC's victory wasn't easy thanks to impressive competition from Kvällstidningen Expressen (on a roll in this year's awards) with #vågaberätta (#couragetoshare) – a powerful and taboo-tackling project about mental illness and youth that struck judges with its “heart bleeding honesty” and its excellent combination with social media. Nor did the established names have it all their own way since hot on the heels as runner up came a less familiar Israeli company, Playbuzz, with its slick foray into new storytelling technology.
Best New Product
Development teams the world over will be looking out for this winner, and they will certainly recognise the name. CNN's Gulf War roots mean it is better known for hard news, but it is CNN Style, from its London and Paris offices that won the award in the new product category. The product was singled out as a great extension of the CNN brand and “a great revival of the Elsa Klensch Style.”
It was not alone, however, as the judges marks put it on equal footing with another FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)'s Der Tag app. The next runner ups were also absolutely neck and neck as fellow Nordics Verdens Gang of Norway and Kvällstidningen Expressen of Sweden received particular praise for The Wave, and News TV of the Future respectively.
Best Digital Advertising Campaign
Although Verdens Gang had the distinction of coming both second and third with the VG 70th Anniversary, and The Wave respectively, it was Quartz that won its second prize of the awards with the Quartz/GE World in Motion campaign. The campaign, based around an interactive globe with which to explore the next industrial era managed to harvest an average engagement time of over eight minutes per user and led one judge to describe it simply as “brilliant.”