Awards reveal a few surprises

The 2010 Online Journalism Awards recognized journalists for their compelling pieces this year. General Excellence in Online Journalism award winners included Msnbc.comCalifornia Watch and the Center for Investigative ReportingThe Texas TribuneThe Las Vegas Sun and the Greenspun Media GroupLa Nacion and OWNI.

Hari Sreenivasan of PBS NewsHour emceed the awards ceremony. The award for Community Collaboration went to West Seattle Blog. Since its inception five years ago West Seattle Blog has been a major source of news for its neighbors, delivering current and comprehensive community news coverage. Self-coined as “West Seattle’s only 24/7 news source,” the site that began soley as a blog now provides breaking news stories and emergency updates for the community.

“The community has really participated in setting the agenda for the news we create,” said Tracy Record, the site’s editor, co-publisher and founder. “We encourage our readers to text, tweet, send emails and post on our Facebook wall when they have news,” said Record.

West Seattle Blog has one of the largest Twitter followings in Seattle for @westseattleblog, with more than 8,200 followers. More than 5,000 people have subscribed to its Facebook page since West Seattle Blog hit the social networking scene three years ago. The site accepts tips for potential news stories and even gets articles and pictures from readers.

“In my opinion, 2010 will be remembered as the year that grassroots independent news sites took off,” said CEO and founder of Lisa Williams, one of the Online Journalism Awards judges.

Solo win for Berkeley grad Martin Ricard

A Seed is Forever, created by Martin Ricard, won the student award for Multimedia Feature Presentation. Ricard received his master’s degree from the UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism in May. Ricard spent 10 days in Sierra Leone focusing on youth and their attitudes toward agriculture since the country’s civil war ended in 2002. Multimedia journalist Ricard is editor of the San Bruno, Calif., division of

“Everyone knows about Sierra Leone because of [the film] Blood Diamond, but now that diamonds are at a decline,” he said, “youth are looking toward agriculture to revolutionize the country and to revolutionize their own lives.”

Partnerships pay off for ProPublica, Times-Picayune and Frontline

The Gannett Foundation Award for Innovative Investigative Journalism, Small Site, went to ProPublica, the New Orleans Times-Picayune and Frontline for Law and Disorder. Since receiving the 2009 Online Journalism Award for General Excellence from the Gannett Foundation, Mike Webb, ProPublica’s director of communications,  said the site has expanded to do more complex partnerships.

“Being received by your peers is as high an honor as you can get,” said Webb. “We want to keep doing great investigations that really have meaning and impact lives.”

Complete list of award winners available here.