8.26.2007

SND.ies: Judges jockey, hammer out final positions

In the last hour of the SND.ies judging Saturday evening, Laura Ruel, the competition coordinator, led the group of judges as they gave their final cases for the entries they thought should be given higher or lower awards. Nothing was set in stone until the very last minute, when the judges agreed they were happy with their decisions.

The judges had their own particular specialties and interests and each contributed to the discussion accordingly. For instance, Joe Weiss of Soundslides offered his expertise when the group assessed the technical aspects of a piece, while Jim Webb of NationalGeographic.com stressed the usability of the sites. Ruel was especially pleased with the make-up of the group, saying it was one of the most congenial panel of judges yet.

However, the debate continued past gold, silver or bronze. The judges also discussed the criteria used to rate the entries. Does aesthetic presentation trump news value? Is innovation valued more than the piece's journalism? And what exactly makes a certain piece more innovative than the next? Does it need to be an industry trendsetter?

The judges are instructed to use five criteria to judge the entries: news value, information editing, information architecture, aesthetic presentation and innovation. As a student and chapter president, I know I'm lucky to be a fly on the wall during this discussion. It's not the kind of experience you get from a classroom, yet I know the comments I've heard today will influence the choices I make in my work from now on.

Ashley Zammitt
SND UNC-CH Chapter President
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
School of Journalism and Mass Communication

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