http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/247980

The First Annual Digital Journal Awards for Excellence in Citizen Journalism

Posted Dec 28, 2007 by Chris Hogg
Digital Journal Editor-in-Chief Chris Hogg (left) and Managing Editor  David Silverberg. - Photo by ...
Digital Journal Editor-in-Chief Chris Hogg (left) and Managing Editor, David Silverberg. - Photo by DigitalJournal.com
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Digital Journal has experienced incredible growth in 2007, paying out more than $25,000 to citizen journalists for their news reports and the site has attracted more than 14 million pageviews. These are the citizen journalists who help make it happen.
In total, citizen journalists have earned more than $25,000 on DigitalJournal.com for their news reports (find out more info on how this works here). The site, from Dec. 1, 2006 through to Nov. 30, 2007 gathered more than 14.2 million pageviews.
So who were the most active citizen journalists? What were the most viewed articles? And who stood out over the last year? This is your behind-the-scenes look at DigitalJournal.com by the numbers. We'll also reveal who you voted as the best writer on DigitalJournal.com in our first annual Readers' Choice Awards.
Citizen Journalism is still a relatively new medium, with a few key players dominating the playing field. Sites like DigitalJournal.com, NowPublic, OhMyNews and Newsvine are carving a niche in the world of citizen-powered news media.
But critics often say citizen journalism is too new and non-professionals cannot be trusted. With that in mind, we polled DigitalJournal.com's readership to find out just what they thought about this burgeoning area of media and the results might surprise you:
When asked what readers thought about articles on DigitalJournal.com, 8.7 per cent of respondents said coverage from citizen journalists was incredible, 69.7 per cent said it was above average, 13 per cent said it was average and 8.6 per cent said they had no opinion or that it was below average.
When asked what readers thought about citizen journalists' reporting, 30.4 per cent of respondents said it was incredible, 52.3 per cent said it was above average, 8.7 per cent said it was average and 8.6 per cent said they had no opinion or that it was below average.
And the real kicker were the results from readers when asked what they thought about citizen journalists' coverage of the news on DigitalJournal.com compared to the mainstream media. Out of all respondents, 43.5 per cent of readers said DigitalJournal.com was incredible compared to the mainstream media, the same number of respondents (43.5 per cent) said it was above average, 4.3 per cent said it was average and 8.7 per cent had no opinion.
Overall, we were incredibly surprised to see the overwhelming majority of readers felt citizen journalism offered a very unique look at news from around the world, and a vast majority felt citizen journalists' reports were better than the mainstream media's.

DigitalJournal.com's Citizen Journalists by the Numbers

A fundamental part of building any community is discussion. The top three DigitalJournal.com members who commented the most were: cgull, Debra Myers and Bob Ewing, who (at time of writing) have made 14,300+, 8,000+ and 5,200+ comments respectively. As for what stories received the most comments, the top two were wolfman2001’s article about citizen journalists and their avatars (684 comments), and Pamela Jean’s Op-Ed on Oprah Winfrey leading people to hell (415 comments).
Another important aspect of understanding what people care about is knowing who the most popular writers are (based on how many upvotes they receive on their articles). Most of the time, more active writers will get a higher volume of votes, but the top five writers who received the most upvotes on their articles were: cgull, museinspiredart, gohomelaker, Brandigal and bobSP.
As for what citizens and citizen journalists gave the most upvotes: cgull (16,300+), elstan (10,800+) and digitalsoul (7,400+) take the top three spots. The most active citizens, including commenting and voting the most, were cgull (30,000+ votes and comments), Debra Myers (14,000+ votes and comments) and gohomelaker (11,000+ votes and comments).
The top three most-viewed stories of 2007 include cgull’s article about a dog who waited 11 years for its owner to return (164,000+ views); TheRationalAnarchist gets the second most-viewed story about a man who was killed by his pet spider (112,000+ views) and third is a short post about an air force sergeant who posed nude in Playboy (91,000+ views).
Based on the number of upvotes, the top two most popular articles written by Digital Journal staff were: Hotmail and Yahoo are blocking Iran webmail access (150+ votes); and an opinion piece about Sony’s CEO who said the HD-DVD/Blu-ray battle is a difficult fight (100+ votes). The most popular wire story we carried from DPA about a Moroccan-Dutch youth riot in Amsterdam earned almost 300 upvotes.
As a user-generated site, our year-end awards have been decided by you the readers. All DigitalJournal.com staff members cast one vote each along with many citizens and citizen journalists who have followed news throughout the year.
There are many honourable mentions and runners-up to these awards, but when the total votes were tallied, six citizen journalists have stood out from the pack and take home special awards in DigitalJournal.com's first-ever year-end award ceremony.
All six recipients will receive a custom-designed DigitalJournal.com T-Shirt that will be sent in the New Year.
Drum roll please...

Paul Wallis Wins Best Writer

The best citizen journalist writer on DigitalJournal.com won by a landslide majority. He is not based in North America and is known to follow business and science news closely. The top-rated citizen journalist on DigitalJournal.com is Paul Wallis who writes under the pen name “Wanderlaugh”. This Australian writer has been on the site since May 2007 and in six months has authored more than 570 articles. Paul has earned international acclaim from readers all over the world for his incredible wit, his unmatched talent for writing and his ability to inspire thought and discussion. The published author (who sells books online here) and self-proclaimed “general nuisance and inner city gargoyle” has expertise in a wide range of subjects. But anything that involves Rupert Murdoch, the rise of China as a global power and scientific discoveries show his incredible ability to research, write and lash out at both corporate revolution and irresponsibility. The world sees few writers as talented as this citizen journalist, and DigitalJournal.com is extremely proud to have this top-rated writer on its masthead. Congratulations Paul.

Paul Wallis Wins Most Popular Writer

Knowing your reader base, and covering news that matters are the fundamental underpinnings of journalism. When asked “whose stories do you like reading on a regular basis”? Paul Wallis again came out on top as the favourite citizen journalist on DigitalJournal.com. The responses varied and many writers got nominated at least once, but Paul takes home a second trophy for being the writer that readers most enjoy following.
A special nod goes to cgull who received a number of mentions in this category. He proven his incredible activity over the last year has earned him a loyal fan base.

Museinspiredart & Cgull Win Most Memorable Stories of the Year

There is always something about a certain news story you will remember, and when asked what story stood out most the responses varied widely.
Out of all respondents, however, two writers stood out and share the award for the most memorable stories of 2007: museinspiredart and cgull. Museinspiredart got mention for his numerous “Behind the Citizen Journalist” reports where he delved into the personal lives of citizen journalists on DigitalJournal.com; and cgull for numerous articles.
A special nod also goes out to a handful of other authors who received votes for their work. They include: Givemetruth’s report on Mother Theresa; Cynthia T.’s report on wealthy televangelists; okieboy’s report on a woman who had removed her ability to have children to reduce her carbon footprint; Wanderlaugh’s article on the end of the universe; wolfman2001’s article on citizen journalists and their avatars; and Carpenter S. Newton for his 10-hour, live coverage of a space shuttle launch.

Pamela Jean Wins Best Original Citizen Journalist Report

The real advantage of citizen journalism is the fact that reporters are all over the world and often witness disasters and news events first-hand. When asked what story was the best original report, the most votes went to Pamela Jean’s coverage of the bridge collapse in Minnesota. A resident of Minnesota, Pamela reported on the breaking news event way before most of the mainstream media picked up on it, and she provided a great deal of critical information for anyone who followed this international story. She also followed-up the next day with a detailed report. Pamela’s nose for news, and her incredible ability to convey information quickly and concisely has earned her a permanent place in DigitalJournal.com’s Hall of Fame and recognition from readers around the world. Congratulations Pamela for showing the true merits of citizen journalism.

Cynthia T. Wins Community-Building Award

A news community would not be a community without the efforts of its loyal citizens. When asked who best promotes the sense of community and friendship, the hands-down winner was Cynthia T. A member of DigitalJournal.com since Dec. 23, 2006, Cythia has come to be known as “Mom” for her unmatched ability to make everyone feel like part of the family. One of the most devoted members, Cynthia was completely new to citizen journalism (and new to the Internet for the most part) when she joined the site and has since grown to be a citizen journalist and community leader extraordinaire. Congrats to Cynthia for being an integral part to the community and passing on your wisdom and well wishes to the countless readers and members who have come to know you as the matriarch of DigitalJournal.com.
A special hat tip goes out to Debra Myers who was mentioned numerous times as well.

Lensman67 Wins Master Debater Award

The title of this award is meant to make you uncomfortable and toe the line of taboo, just as any star debater should do. When asked who was the star (or master) debater on DigitalJournal.com, the honour was almost unanimously given to Lensman67. Joining DigitalJournal.com on March 30, 2007, Lensman67 has controversy follow him around as though it were a shadow. But when asked to get in the heart of battle, Lensman67 has proven time and time again he can debate like a master. Be it a debate on religion, science or politics (one of his favourites), Lensman67 is one of the most active members of DigitalJournal.com and has participated in dozens of very heated debates that span many hundreds of comments. This nomination as master debater shows what the community really thinks of Lensman67: He can walk the walk just as well as he can talk the talk. Congrats Lensman67 on being the master of your domain.

The Intangibles & the Fun Facts

There are countless people who have helped make DigitalJournal.com what it is today, so David Silverberg and I have created a fun section of commentary for all the DJ diehards:
Best Profile Name: momentsintime. It's mysterious, it's intriguing and it sums up what citizen reporters do on DigitalJournal.com — capture those precious moments in time that other media may have forgot or simply ignored. Plus, you can short-form her name to "moments" or "mom" or even the ultra-cool "time."
Best Bio: Bart B. Van Bockstaele. If you want to let readers know who you are, fill your bio with the kind of details Bart included. Now you know he speaks Dutch, loves kimono dressing, and works as a computer programmer. Too much info? No way! Just the right amount to get a sense of the man behind the posts.
Best Avatar: Nathalie C. Something about a hyper-neon pic of the Earth says, "Worldly." And Nathalie C's journalism reflects her avatar, especially the filled-in red area: She pens many articles about North America, especially Canada.
Best Use of Alliteration in a Headline: Pamela Jean. First there was "Penis Penetrating Pipe Poses Problem For Perpetrator." Then another phallic story with, "Penis Pounced Upon As Pissing Pedestrian Piddles Through Peephole." Pamela deserves kudos for being so alliterative. We also find it a little bit funny her top two headlines both discussed male genitalia.
Best Consumer Watchdog: Bob Ewing. Whether it was beef recalls or product recalls, perma, um, I mean Bob, had our back. A special nod also goes out to patxxoo who also kept readers informed on items that are killing us. It's nice to have our very own specialists hounding the nefarious companies.
Best Commenter Who Isn’t a Citizen Journalist (Yet): With a name like Helena Handbasket, it’s hard not to notice her. This citizen is by far one of the most active readers of Digital Journal and has peppered the site with wit, charm and the odd statement that incites debate. Amazing reader loyalty, and we don’t even pay her.

Digital Journal Staff’s (not serious) 2008 Resolutions

(1.) Change the “report abuse” button to read “Deal with your own problems” and program it to send the person hitting the button 3,587 emails. And then 487 more emails 10 minutes later to ask why nothing was done about the reported abuse.
(2.) Challenge Bob Ewing (permafrog) to write more than one-line comments. Also, find out how he stays so calm and friendly all the time, because nothing seems to bother him.
(3.) Give Wanderlaugh a full-access pass to News Corp headquarters. Might as well, since it seems he's got enough knowledge about Rupert Murdoch's operations to scare Fox News reporters out of their jammies.
(4.) Convince lensman67 to stop writing recipes. We’ve gone through too many keyboards as a result of saliva dripping unceremoniously on to the desk top.
(5.) Buy cgull some sleeping pills so he can rest for once. Does this guy even take a nap? No, seriously. Does anyone know?
(6.) Find out what atroxodisse means. And why that CJ is named that. And why it doesn't roll off the tongue like it should. Maybe it's a swear word in Martian?
(7.) Smooth out debates between Democrats and Republicans on DigitalJournal.com by proving both parties are equally untrustworthy. While we're at it, get Lensman67 to vote Republican and Susan Duclos, Snooper, LewWaters and Cyber Pastor to say they love Hillary Clinton. Scratch that -- hell would freeze over before that happened =)
(8.) Find out if PTBartman is in fact the real Don Imus. Nobody could think that highly of a shock jock (we're joking, of course).
(9.) Get S.H. Mills to reveal those to mysterious characters in her name. She started as Lady Justice and is slowly revealing her real name, but the S.H. still means shh. She is hiding something, or she wants to be remembered as an acronym like D. H. Lawrence or J.D. Salinger.
(10.) Get pajamadeen to change her name. It makes us want to sleep in.

Bonus!

This is the first article in a two-part series. To see DigitalJournal.com's top stories of 2007, check out part two in this series. There, we discuss the highest-rated citizen journalist articles this year and take you behind the stats to show you the top stories each month, and who wrote them.
Also, stay tuned throughout the whole video above for a short blooper reel and credits to the many people who help make DigitalJournal.com what it is today.