2009 NPPA Judges Hold High Standards in Turbulent Time

For one week, during a time of unprecedented change in the industry, 11 judges endured early mornings and late nights to evaluate excellence in photojournalism.

This year 3,700 journalists from 147 countries submitted more that 52,000 entries (still photographs, video and Web entries) for the Best of Photojournalism contest.

Fixing their eyes upon 11.5-foot-wide projection screens, they witnessed, vetted and honored new forms of photographic reporting as they set aside the turbulence in their news organizations and personal lives. At least six of the 11 judges faced uncertainty about their own jobs.

Their mission was, as Best of Photojournalism Committee Chair Harry Walker said, to "set new standards of photographic excellence." In still photography, they looked for photographic reporting that showed the time-honored "decisive moment." In online and multimedia presentations, they pushed new expectations for work that focused on the extended and interactive moments.

Web judges kept late nights to select winners in the audio slideshow, Web video and multimedia categories. They boldly withheld winners in a few categories rather than embracing the "good enough" attitude that has plagued online journalism.

Maurice Rivenbark of Poynter's St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times observed as judges discussed and debated projects and told him what makes award-winning work. Take a look at his peek inside the judging process.

2009 NPPA BOP Judging from Poynter Institute on Vimeo
Video by Maurice Rivenbark/St. Petersburg Times

  • Kenneth Irby

    Kenny founded Poynter's photojournalism program in 1995. He teaches in seminars and consults in areas of photojournalism, leadership, ethics and diversity.


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