Online News Association Awards KBIA-FM Its Top Award for Excellence

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Judges Call the Station ‘a Real Standout’

Los Angeles (Sept. 28, 2015) — KBIA-FM has won the General Excellence in Online Journalism award in the small market category in the 2015 Online News Association‘s Online Journalism Awards. Dean of the Missouri School of Journalism David Kurpius and Director of the Futures Lab in the Reynolds Journalism Institute Mike McKean accepted the award on KBIA’s behalf. KBIA took home a monetary prize, courtesy of the Gannett Foundation.

The award was one of three presented for General Excellence. The Washington Post won in the large market category; Quartz, medium market category.

KBIA, mid-Missouri’s NPR-member station, is a learning lab for Missouri journalism students who produce stories with audio, video and text for the website while also producing traditional radio newscasts. KBIA’s website has won the regional Edward R. Murrow Award for best small market radio news website the last three years in a row, and also won the national Murrow in 2014.

The award was announced at a banquet in Los Angeles on Sept. 26 at the end of the 15th annual ONA conference. Stephen Thompson, a writer/editor for NPR Music, was one of the hosts of the event. In presenting the award, he read this note from the judges:

“The judges were impressed that a tiny newsroom staffed largely with college students had such a thoughtful and sophisticated website, from data journalism to crowdsourcing to long-form feature storytelling, this site punched way above its weight. In a category full of excellent entrants, this was a real standout.”

David Kurpius and Mike McKean

Dean David Kurpius (left) and Director of the Futures Lab Mike McKean accept the General Excellence in Online Journalism award on KBIA’s behalf at a banquet in Los Angeles, Sept. 26. Photo: Online News Association.

KBIA’s entry included special projects like “Here Say,” “Access Missouri,” “Shortage in Rich Land,” “Heartland, Missouri,” and “Exploring the Paths of Missouri’s Special Education.” The entry also referenced the fact that KBIA was one of the first stations in the country to adopt NPR Digital Services’ responsive design on its website last year.

This is the first time KBIA has been honored in the Online Journalism Awards competition. The general excellence category honors an ongoing publication/app that successfully fulfills its editorial mission, effectively serves its audience, maximizes the use of digital tools and platforms, and represents the highest journalistic standards. Entries will be judged on quality of journalism, use of social tools, creative use of the medium and platform, user interface and interactivity.

Other finalists in the “General Excellence in Online Journalism – Small” category included the Texas Tribune, the MinnPost and the Honolulu Civil Beat.

“Awards like this one aren’t won overnight, or even in a year,” said Ryan Famuliner, KBIA’s news director and assistant professor. “This also goes back to efforts by former newsroom leaders to make our digital presence a priority. There are many current and former KBIA staff, students and faculty who had a hand in the award.” Mike Dunn serves as KBIA’s general manager.

KBIA Staff Sept. 2015

KBIA staff celebrate after winning the General Excellence award from the Online News Association. From left: Nathan Lawrence, Michaela Tucker, Emerald O’Brien, Ryan Famuliner, Bram Sable-Smith, Kristofor Husted, James Gordon, Sara Shahriari, Rebecca Smith.

This adds to a long list of honors for KBIA this award season, including one national and five regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, a Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, three first place awards in the national Radio Television Digital News Directors competition, first place in the national audio competition in the Religion Newswriters Association contest, five Missouri Broadcasters Association Awards, the Missouri Public Health Association Media Award, and runner up in the national Missouri Review Miller Audio Contest. A student reporter at KBIA also placed in the top 10 of the national Hearst Journalism Awards Competition.

ONA is the world’s largest association of online journalists. A group of 60 industry-leading journalists and new media professionals from independent, community, nonprofit, major media, start-up and international news sites reviewed the entries and selected the winners.

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