Online Oscars for the M&G

Khanyi Magubane

South African online newspaper pioneers the Mail & Guardian scooped three Honours at the recent 12th annual Webby Awards – regarded as the Oscars of the Internet – for the blogging platform Thought Leader and the News in Photos service.

Thought Leader was named an official honouree in the blogging section and the M&G online photo portal was named official honoree in both the Newspaper and the Best Use of Photography categories.

“We are honoured to have received recognition for the hard work that has gone into creating Thought Leader and News in Photos,” said Matthew Buckland, the newspaper’s online managing director “It is gratifying to be listed in the same company as some of the world’s great brands like New York Times, Washingtonpost.com, CNBC, CBS and others.”

Blog of the Year

Thought Leader also received recognition locally for its superior quality when it was recently named Blog of the Year at the South African Blog awards.

The Mail & Guardian Online’s social media strategy in 2007 was aggressive, with the development of both blogging aggregators and blogging platforms, Facebook applications and several other Web 2.0 initiatives,” said Vincent Maher, M&G Online strategist. “We wanted to be leaders in the blogging space and this recognition is confirmation that we’re on the right path.

Of the more than 8 000 entries submitted, fewer than 15% were chosen as official honourees. “This honour signifies an outstanding calibre of work. Congratulations to all of our Official Honouree selections!” reads the Webby Awards website.

The awards, presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, were established in 1996 and are currently the leading internationally recognised awards honouring excellence on the Internet. The 550 members of the academy include leading Web experts, business figures, visionaries and creative celebrities.

Each year awards are presented in four categories – Websites, Interactive Advertising, Online Film & Video and Mobile – with two honourees in each category. The Webby award is decided by a panel of judges made up of experts in the field while the People’s Voice award is determined by the online community.

The Mail & Guardian Online beat many South African newspapers by going online first, catching onto global trends early on. The online edition of the newspaper, the first internet-based news publication in Africa, was launched in 1994 and has since built up a notable reputation. In 2001, Forbes.com voted it one of the world top 175 websites.

Buckland said the Mail and Guardian Online are in a unique position, in that going online has not compromised its print readership. “It was the right move to go online at an early stage, it gave us a head-start. We are in a lucky position where we have a media company which is showing readership growth for both online and print editions.”

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