Content Ninja's Weblog

An exploratory journey on the edge of newspaper evolution

Stone soup May 21, 2008

Filed under: content,innovation — contentninja @ 4:52 pm
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The Association of Food Journalists asked me to help judge its annual writing contest again this year. I was given my choice of categories, and I jumped at the chance to judge the online category.

Although I cannot give specifics (winners will be announced in October), I shall say I was rather disappointed. Entries were relatively few and — get this — on paper. It’s hard to miss the irony in that. Only one of the entries made reference to an alternate delivery form (audio) or clearly contained links for more and related information for greater context.

Only ONE.

And not one made reference to related video.

In fairness, it should be noted that the category is actually called “best food writing on the Internet,” not best online or multimedia food content, which is what I think the category should be.  (In my mind, traditional newspaper writing that just happens to pub online doesn’t warrant a separate writing category. Same stuff, different delivery.)

I’m told that the category will be reworked for next year. That’s great. AFJ is a group of earnest, sincere people with a love for food journalism. I’ve no doubt AFJ can see where it needs to go and is trying. Being ahead of the curve this year, though, would have been even better.

In an ideal world, entries wouldn’t come on paper. Contest judges would get a list of links to interactive packages online, where not just the words would be reviewed. Audio and video tracks could be played, and links could be followed. THAT’S what an online journalism contest should look like.

Of course, there are issues. Like whether that awesome multimedia package from six months ago is still alive somewhere when a contest rolls around. And visiting the actual Web site would conflict with AFJ’s usual MO of keeping entries anonymous to the judges.

I’m hopeful, though, that as journalists embrace online delivery methods and multimedia tools, they’ll insist that their work be judged differently. And AFJ has an opportunity to drive that change.

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3 Responses to “Stone soup”

  1. David Says:

    How sad. This is why we need teams of people out there spreading the word of contributing to online media. Workshops, gatherings, open sessions. However we spread the word, we need people out there informing those of alternative means of distribution.

    I honestly believe that there are those here from Cedar Rapids and across the State that can and will contribute online. They just need a place to to it and to be informed that such a place exists.

    Well…”exists” if we build it :)

  2. David Says:

    err…”need a place to *do* it”…

    typos kill me!

  3. Matthew Manuel Says:

    Food journalism? I could write an article on zingers and beef jerky. I lived off of those when I was a bachelor. Oh and I musn’t forget Mt. Dew and the 2-cheeseburger meal at McDonald’s.

    Are you going to enter your idea on the Innov8 website tomorrow? I think you should. We can talk about it in the morning.


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