The worst for last?
No journalism is easy, but news writing might be the hardest. Even an hour-long video has only a fraction of the words and sources in a solid news story.
So for Kunkel Award’s fifth and final category, our three judges harshly assessed even the best of the 116 entries.
No one was spared – from Breitbart’s Exposed: The Secret Mailing List of the Gaming Journalism Elite (“I have no idea what got exposed or why it matters, because no one’s telling me how or why”) to Kotaku’s How Binding of Isaac Fans Ended Up Digging Holes in Santa Ana, California (“A fun blow-by-blow of a sort of digital scavenger hunt, but Christ, I hate the top of almost every one of these Kotaku stories. Get. To. The. Point.”)
Below are the eight finalists for Excellence in News Reporting, in no particular order and with comments from two judges per finalist. All three judges will review any comments below, elsewhere online, and submitted here. Then it’s time to pick the winners and see what happens.
(By the way, “lede” is journo-jargon for the first sentence or two of a story, and “graf” is short for paragraph. Don’t even get me started on the double entendre of other terminology.)
- “Heavy on sourcing, which is good, but light on bringing it together and telling me why all this matters. Specifically, the tweet in the lede isn’t explained for graf after graf. Tell me why I should care or I won’t.”
- “Interesting analysis. I love the sourcing. The headline is terribly broad, though, and it sometimes veers into editorializing. I’m not sure this category was the best fit.”
- “Clear. Timely. Well-sourced. Kinda boring beginning and a very dry thesis, but it’s an important story. That said, it’s a product announcement. Award worthy?”
- “The premise of this article, ‘microgames,’ is probably the stupidest thing I’ve read in this category. But the writing itself is solid, the quotes are mostly helpful and relevant, and the sourcing is good.”
- “Finally! News happens, reporter jumps into the mud and reports how deep it is. Detail, pizzazz, interest, and of course journalism.”
- “A bit squishy, but news you can use with a step-by-step. I like that.”
- “This isn’t news. It’s a feature. And it’s got all kinds of stuff that make me want to read it: original sourcing, interesting and untapped info, a good lede.”
- “I really love this story, the details and interviews are amazing, and this is so much more important (and carries so much more human interest) than the slew of GamerGate submissions. I think it would have done far better in the feature category, or an explanatory category if we had one. But I’m willing to consider it as ‘in-depth news’ because it’s definitely not opinion and the reporting is there.”
- “I’m pretty sure this is an important story, but why did the writer take so long to tell me so? Such a long-winded intro about nothing that matters as much as what comes at its end. Pair with all anonymous sources and I’m disappointed by the time I’m supposed to be engaged. Still, I guess a 13-month investigation is worth something.”
- “Badly needs better editing. This should’ve been so much cooler than it turned out – and it’s kind of a theme with Kotaku submissions. Instead of balancing the juicy stuff with the backstory, we have to wade through all the backstory before getting to all the hard investigative work. Frustrating.”
- “Interesting. Good lede, good background. But where’s a human source? Something other than information. I mean, we’re talking about porn. Porn’s about people, but this story apparently isn’t. Still interesting, though.”
- “Interested, but can’t find the news and don’t understand why the people teased in the headline aren’t interviewed. First quote is hundreds of words – and six videos/pictures – deep. So it reads more like, ‘Hey guys, check out this kinky shit’ until pretty far into the story. Great for horny teenagers, not great for anyone looking for some kind of psychology or big picture.”
- “Whoa. Heavy stuff. I’d be into this kind of journalism on the regular.”
- “My biggest issue is how dense this is. I want more section breaks and maybe some internal summary. The ones it has now do that, fortunately – but it’s still a slog.”
- “Powerful stuff, but man, does it take its time getting to the point. Sourcing the news channel so heavily is a sure way to bore me. I don’t want to read through all that. Just tell me what happened and link me to it so I can read deeper if I want to.”
- “Good reporting. Love the outreach to the station, the anonymous source, and the attempt to thoroughly document how the original story unfolded. It does get bogged down, a little repetitive, and focuses on some irrelevant details, but all that’s forgivable for the shoe leather here.”
Coming soon: The winners of the 2015 Kunkel Awards.
Unfettered access to those in power, a push for government transparency and a vigorous defense of the First Amendment are perhaps more important now than ever before. Join us as we fight for the public’s right to know as an SPJ Supporter. Or, if you’re a journalist, we welcome you to stand with us as a Professional, Student or Retired Member.