Judging

About the DPA Judging Process

The 2019 Digital Publishing Awards consist of 23 categories which are each judged by a three-member jury of peers in the digital publishing industry. Juries are selected to maximize the diversity of judges’ expertise and perspectives—such as writing, editing, design, digital development and other criteria pertinent to the category—to encourage a well-rounded and deliberative judging process. In categories that receive entries in both French and English, at least one member of the jury is francophone bilingual. An individual may not serve as a judge if they played any role in the editorial process of a submission entered in the category, or if they are (or were, during the awards year) a staff member of a publication entered in the category. 

As part of our commitment to transparency, we have published specific judging criteria for each category, so that submitters understand the measures by which the judges consider each submission.

Each jury considers and interprets the submissions relative to the category definition and criteria. Judges have 3-5 weeks to review the submissions individually and submit scores on each, and then gather by conference call, moderated by a DPA facilitator, to deliberate and decide on the shortlist of finalists and the Gold and Silver winners.

Supporting our Judges

Judges in all categories receive a “survival guide” which is a written explanation of how the judging process works. Staff will be available to answer any questions along the way. 

Conflict of Interest
A person shall be considered ineligible to judge in a category if she or he:

  • Is entered as a writer, editor or other contributor or creator in the category;
  • Worked on staff, during the awards year, of a publication entered in the category;
  • Is the is the subject of an article entered or has a close association with the writer or creator entered in the category;
  • Is a regular contributor to a publication entered in the category.

In the case of a conflict of interest, judges may be moved to a different jury to resolve the conflict, or may be asked to withdraw. 

Category Review
Honouring our commitment to reflect evolving methods of presentation and publication of content, the NMAF will review its categories on an annual basis. Stakeholders from the industry are asked to provide feedback on the clarity of category description, the relevancy of the current roster of awards and to note any areas of content and creation that are not included. The bottom 20 per cent of categories, in terms of the number of applicants, will be reviewed annually to ensure their ongoing viability to the Foundation and relevance to the industry.

 

Specific judging criteria for each category

 

1. Best Digital Editorial Package
Honours the outstanding and collaborative work of an editorial team—editors and content creators—in creating an original series of related or thematic editorial content that best serves its intended audience by maximizing the potential of digital publishing. The quality of the storytelling as well as the value to readers will be judged. There is no cash prize with this award.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Digital Editorial Package:

  • Overall quality of writing and reporting, including style and creativity;
  • Overall quality of the packaging and presentation of written, visual, interactive and/or multimedia content;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the package engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the editorial package.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Other Contributor(s)

 

2. Best Column
Honours the online-only recurring column that best serves its intended audience through commentary, opinion, visual, audio, and/or interactive elements. This award recognizes the body of a work of a single columnist. This award includes a cash prize of $500.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Column:

  • Overall quality of writing and reporting, including style and creativity;
  • Overall quality of the presentation of written, visual, interactive and/or multimedia content;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the column engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the column.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

3. Best News Coverage (Small Newsroom)
Honours excellence in news reporting of a single topic or event based on the enterprise and skill of the reporter or team of reporters, including insightful analysis and compelling narrative. This award will go to the digital publication that best serves its audience through timely, original reporting on any single topic or event of local, provincial, national or international significance. This category is intended for small, local publications with an editorial staff (digital and print if applicable) of less than 10 members. There is no cash prize with this award.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best News Coverage:

  • Overall quality of writing and reporting;
  • Overall quality of the presentation of written, visual, interactive and/or multimedia content;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the news coverage engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the news coverage.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Other Contributor(s).

4. Best News Coverage
Honours excellence in news reporting of a single topic or event based on the enterprise and skill of the reporter or team of reporters, including insightful analysis and compelling narrative. This award will go to the digital publication that best serves its audience through timely, original reporting on any single topic or event of local, provincial, national or international significance. There is no cash prize with this award.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best News Coverage:

  • Overall quality of writing and reporting;
  • Overall quality of the presentation of written, visual, interactive and/or multimedia content;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the news coverage engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the news coverage.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

5. Best Feature Article: Short
Honours the best short feature story (maximum 1500 words) in terms of the overall quality of writing, including but not limited to reporting, personal essays, criticism, reviews and other non-fiction genres. The feature must have been written for a digital platform. This award includes a cash prize of $500.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Feature Article:

  • Overall quality of the presentation of written, visual, interactive and/or multimedia content;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the feature engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall quality of writing and reporting, including style and creativity;
  • Overall impact of the feature story.

NOTE: A story should not be judged solely on the quality of writing, but on ALL elements of the storytelling including the digital components.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Other Contributor(s).

6. Best Feature Article: Long
Honours the best long feature story (minimum 1500 words) in terms of the overall quality of writing, including but not limited to reporting, personal essays, criticism, reviews and other non-fiction genres. The feature must have been written for a digital platform. This award includes a cash prize of $500.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Feature Article:

  • Overall quality of the presentation of written, visual, interactive and/or multimedia content;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the feature engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall quality of writing and reporting, including style and creativity;
  • Overall impact of the feature story.

NOTE: A story should not be judged solely on the quality of writing, but on ALL elements of the storytelling including the digital components.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

7. Fiction
Honours a work of short fiction first published by the publication. The story must have been written for a digital platform. This award includes a cash prize of $500.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Fiction:

  • Overall quality of the storytelling, including style and creativity;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the story engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the story.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

8. Best Personal Essay
Honours the best overall story in which the writer’s perspective and/or personal experience is the main focus. The personal essay must have been written for a digital platform. This award includes a cash prize of $500.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Feature Article:

  • Overall quality of the storytelling, including style and creativity;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the feature engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the feature story.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

9. Best Arts & Culture Storytelling
Honours the best overall story dealing with issues or subjects of arts, culture or entertainment, including essays, reviews, reporting and/or literary journalism. The story must have been written for a digital platform. This award includes a cash prize of $500.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Arts & Culture:

  • Overall quality of the storytelling, including style and creativity;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the feature engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the feature story.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

10. Best Science and Technology Storytelling
Honours the best overall story dealing with issues or subjects of science or technology, including investigative reporting, analysis and/or profiles. The story must have been written for a digital platform. This award includes a cash prize of $500.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Science and Technology Story:

  • Overall quality of writing and reporting, including style and creativity;
  • Overall quality of the presentation of written, visual, interactive and/or multimedia content. 
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the article engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the article.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Other Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

11. Best Service Feature
Honours the best digital service journalism feature story that focuses on topics such as travel, recreation and lifestyle (including beauty and fashion, food, sports, hobbies, design and décor), careers and personal finance, education, or family and health, with an emphasis on excellence in writing, reporting, and packaging of content. Entries may consist partially of repurposed content but must have been created and designed specifically for a digital platform. This award includes a cash prize of $500.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Service Feature:

  • Overall quality of writing and reporting, including style and creativity;
  • Overall quality of the presentation of written, visual, interactive and/or multimedia content. 
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the feature engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact of the feature story.

This category rewards: Writer(s); Editor(s); Photographer(s); Art Director(s); Designer(s); Other Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

12. Best Online Video: Short
Honours creative excellence in the production of a video by a digital publisher that is less than three (3) minutes in length. The video must have been produced for a digital platform. There is no cash prize with this award.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Online Video:

  • Overall quality of video production, including videography and video editing;
  • Overall quality of the video content, reporting;
  • Overall impact of the video: How successfully does the subject matter engage its intended audience?

Note: The length of the video should not be a primary consideration in evaluating the overall excellence of the video.

This category rewards: Reporter(s); Video Producer(s); Video Editor(s); Videographer(s); Director(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

13. Best Online Video: Feature
Honours creative excellence in the production of a video by a digital publisher that is between three and longer than five (5) minutes in length. The video must have been produced for a digital platform. There is no cash prize with this award. *Videos that up to 5:30 minutes in length may be entered in this category OR in the Mini-doc category. However, the same video cannot be entered in both categories. Submitters must determine which category is best suited for the video submitted. There is no cash prize with this award.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Online Video:

  • Overall quality of video production, including videography and video editing;
  • Overall quality of the video content, reporting;
  • Overall impact of the video: How successfully does the subject matter engage its intended audience?

Note: The length of the video should not be a primary consideration in evaluating the overall excellence of the video.

This category rewards: Reporter(s); Video Producer(s); Video Editor(s); Videographer(s); Director(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

14. Best Online Video: Mini-Doc
Honours creative excellence in the production of a video by a digital publisher that is longer than five (5) minutes in length. The video must have been produced for a digital platform. There is no cash prize with this award.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Online Video:

  • Overall quality of video production, including videography and video editing;
  • Overall quality of the video content, reporting;
  • Overall impact of the video: How successfully does the subject matter engage its intended audience?

This category rewards: Reporter(s); Video Producer(s); Video Editor(s); Videographer(s); Director(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

15. Best Podcast
Honours the podcast series that best serves its intended audience. The originality of the theme and the quality of production will be judged, as well as creative use of the podcasting or audio medium. Submissions must consist of 3 episodes. There is no cash prize with this award.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Podcast Series:

  • Overall quality of the audio production, including mixing and editing;
  • Overall quality of the audio content, including reporting;
  • Overall impact of the podcast: How successfully does the subject matter engage its intended audience?

Note: The length of the podcast should not be a primary consideration in evaluating the overall excellence of the podcast series.

 

16. Best Digital Design
Honours the digital publication with the most successful and original overall combination of visual and graphic design elements with functionality and user experience. Submissions may include, but not limited to: entire websites, micro-sites, tablet editions, mobile apps and one-off projects of any kind. This award includes a cash prize of $500.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Digital Design:

  • Overall quality of the design elements, including design architecture and integration of written visual, graphic-design, multimedia and other elements;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the design contribute to a successful presentation of content and engage the publication’s intended audience?
  • Overall impact of the design as a whole, including design innovation.

Note: Conformity to the latest trends in visual style is not a criterion. Judges are requested to consciously avoid a faddish sensibility. Aesthetic concerns must be balanced with the practical.

This category rewards: Digital Designer(s); Digital Developer(s); Graphic Designer(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

17. Best Photo Storytelling
Honours outstanding use of photography to tell a story, including photojournalism, photo essay, photo galleries, conceptual photography and photo-illustration. Entries must consist of a series of photographs commissioned by the publication and/or brand. Partially repurposed content is eligible, but entries must have been created and designed specifically for a digital platform. This award includes a cash prize of $500.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Photo Storytelling:

  • Overall quality of the photography and the art direction;
  • Overall quality of the presentation of visual, interactive and/or multimedia content;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the publication’s photo storytelling engage the intended audience?
  • Overall impact of the photo storytelling.

Note: The quality of the text (if applicable) should not be a primary consideration in evaluating the overall excellence of Best Photo Storytelling.

This category rewards: Content Creator(s); Publisher(s); Editor(s); Digital Developer(s); Digital Designer(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

18. Best Social Storytelling
Honours the digital publication that best tells a story using one or more social-media platforms. Storytelling elements may include but are not limited to text, audio, video, photographs, illustrations, infographics, and design elements. There is no cash prize with this award.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Social Storytelling:

  • Overall quality of the social storytelling content and design elements;
  • Innovation and creativity in the development, deployment and/or design of social storytelling elements;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the publication’s social storytelling engage the intended audience?
  • Overall impact of the social storytelling.

This category rewards: Content Creator(s); Publisher(s); Editor(s); Digital Developer(s); Digital Designer(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

19. Best Editorial Newsletter *NEW
Honours the outstanding work of an individual or editorial team in creating original and engaging content via a regular email series that best serves its intended audience by maximizing the potential of digital publishing. Digital elements may include but are not limited to text, audio, photographs, illustrations, infographics, and visual elements. Newsletters must be designed specifically for the email platform. They should feature original content and not simply a reproduction of the publication’s website.

This award recognizes email content which is editorial in nature. The newsletter can make use of reporting done for the publication’s other properties. Emails created for marketing or promotional purposes, or for the sole or main purpose of providing readers with links to the publication’s website content, should not be submitted for this category.

The quality of the content as well as the value to readers will be judged. There is no cash prize with this award.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Best Newsletter:

  • Overall quality of the content and the design elements, relevance of the theme;
  • Successful integration of written visual, graphic-design, and other elements;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the publication’s newsletter series engage the intended audience?
  • Overall impact of the newsletter series.

This category rewards: Content Creator(s); Publisher(s); Editor(s); Digital Developer(s); Digital Designer(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

20. Innovation in Digital Storytelling
Honours an innovative digital creation, project or concept (a user-facing tool, an application, a presentation of data, etc.), or an innovation in a project that leverages data-driven technology or design (graphics, trend analyses, interactive tools) to enhance the storytelling, the audience engagement and/or experience. There is no cash prize with this award.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Innovation in Digital Storytelling:

  • Overall quality of the content elements;
  • Innovation and creativity in the development, deployment and/or concept of digital feature;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the innovation engage the publication’s intended audience?
  • Overall impact of the innovation.

This category rewards: Publisher(s); Editor(s); Content Creator(s); Digital Developer(s); Digital Designer(s); Other Contributor(s).

 

21. Emerging Excellence Award
Honours an individual whose early work in Canadian digital publishing shows the highest degree of craft and promise. This award may recognize a writer, visual creator, designer, developer, publisher or other young professional who has demonstrated excellence and potential in one or more areas of Canadian digital publishing. This award is open to any individual under the age of 30. Nominations for this award should come from one or more colleagues or mentors of the individual. There is no cash prize with this award.

Judging Criteria: The jury should consider the following criteria in evaluating the Emerging Excellence Award:

  • Quality & Creativity: How successfully does the candidate’s professional work demonstrate a commitment to creative and high-quality digital journalism or content creation?
  • Impact: How successfully has the candidate made a positive impact on their work environment, colleagues, and/or Canadian digital publishing?
  • Potential: How successfully do the candidate’s achievements to date demonstrate the potential for future success in digital publishing?

This category may reward: Publisher; Editor; Writer; Visual Creator; Digital Content Creator; Digital Developer; Digital Designer.

The entry fee for this award is $25.

 

22. Digital Publishing Leadership Award
Honours an individual whose career contributions to Canadian digital publishing deserve recognition and celebration. This award may recognize a writer, visual creator, designer, developer, publisher or other digital publishing professional who has demonstrated leadership, inspiration, creativity and achievement in one or more areas of Canadian digital publishing. Nominations for this award should come from three or more colleagues of the individual. There is no cash prize with this award.

Judging Process: The jury for this award will be comprised of members of the NMAF Board of Directors and senior members of the Canadian digital publishing industry, who will consider all applicants and vote on the winner. Candidates not selected will remain under consideration for two additional years. The jury will consider 4 main criteria pertaining to each candidate:

  • Quality & Creativity: How successfully do the candidate’s professional achievements demonstrate a commitment to creative and high-quality digital journalism?
  • Impact: How successfully has the candidate made a positive impact on their work environment, colleagues, and Canadian digital publishing?
  • Leadership: How successfully has the candidate demonstrated a commitment to fostering development and innovation in Canadian digital publishing, and to inspiring their colleagues toward achieving excellence?

This category may reward: Publisher; Editor; Writer; Visual Creator; Digital Content Creator; Digital Developer; Digital Designer.

The entry fee for this award is $25.

 

23. General Excellence in Digital Publishing : Small, Medium and Large Publications

Honours the publications that most successfully fulfill their editorial mandate, represent the highest journalistic standards, and effectively serve their intended audience by maximizing the possibilities afforded by the medium of digital publishing. Three awards for General Excellence will be presented, based on the size* of the publications (small; medium; and large).  Eligible publications include online-only as well as digital properties of magazines, newspapers, broadcasters and B2B publications. There is no cash prize with this award.

*Each publication submitting for General Excellence are asked to provide specific information and data (see Submission Requirements for details). The breakdown between small, medium and large publications will be determined based on the entries received, to ensure a fair competition between participants in each division.

Judging Criteria: Judges should consider the following criteria in evaluating Digital Publication of the Year:

  • Overall quality of the content and design elements;
  • Innovation and creativity in the development, deployment and/or design of digital content and elements;
  • Functionality & user experience: How successfully does the publication engage its intended audience through the digital medium?
  • Overall impact: How successfully does the publication deliver on its editorial mandate and maximize the possibilities of digital publishing?

This category rewards: Publisher(s); Editor(s); Digital Developer(s); Digital Designer(s); Other Contributor(s).