Two of NPR's most ambitious multimedia projects — "Planet Money" and "Climate Connections" — collected prestigious awards for online journalism in the past week.
The Online News Association gave its annual award for topical reporting and blogging by a large news Web site to Planet Money. The Planet Money team was set up last year to produce a series of on-air and online reports, blog posts and podcasts that explained the global economy. No easy task — especially given the international financial crisis that was unfolding as the project made its debut last fall.
"Planet Money provided a distinct value to a community of readers at a time when clear reporting on the financial crisis was just vital," the ONA judges said. "A lot of people were looking for and needed this information. The inaugural post that kicked off Planet Money was a feat of explanatory reporting. It stood out in an excellent field by the value it provided."
The ONA prize, announced late Saturday at the organization's Online Journalism Awards banquet in San Francisco, came days after NPR collected another significant honor — this one from The National Academies here in Washington.
The National Academies is an influential scientific advisory organization comprising of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council. It gave its 2009 Communication Award for Internet journalism to NPR's online components of Climate Connections, a yearlong series developed in partnership with National Geographic to explain "how we are shaping climate" and "how climate is shaping us" — subjects of considerable complexity and controversy. The Academies' prize for online journalism is one of four it awards each year with support from the W.M. Keck Foundation to recognize "excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering, and medicine to the general public."
"Singly, these are significant honors for NPR," Ellen Weiss, senior vice president for news and information, said in an e-mail to our staff on Monday afternoon. "We were competing with the best in our field — including the New York Times and Wired. The awards illustrate the growing seamlessness between NPR News on the air and online, and they are a testament to the journalistic importance and integrity of our presence in the digital space."
Planet Money and Climate Connections both represented major efforts to provide serious, in-depth reporting on complicated and important issues — both online and on the air. All of us at NPR are thrilled for the staff who worked so hard on both of these projects.
Mark Stencel is managing editor for digital news at NPR.