Being a frequent loud-mouthed critic of Salem's newspaper, the Statesman Journal -- hey, I've got to spend my retired years doing something fun -- naturally my eye was caught by today's story, "SJ wins top awards for web excellence."
The Statesman Journal digital staff won first place for Best Overall Website and Best Web Design.
Actually, the Statesman Journal web site sucks. At least in comparison to truly well-designed sites like the New York Times, a point I was pleased to make back in 2014 with "Ugh! My review of new Statesman Journal web site."
I had high hopes for the supposed newly-local freshly-designed Salem Statesman Journal web site. But my first impression of it was Ugh! Subsequent impressions haven't been any better.
...So now our local newspaper's web site looks almost exactly like USA Today and most other Gannett papers. Which would be OK, though disturbingly uncreative, if the corporate site design was so marvelous it begged to be duplicated.
However, it isn't.
Yes, the Statesman Journal digital staff had exactly nothing to do with the design of the SJ web site.
Like I said in the earlier post, it is virtually (or maybe exactly) identical to the design of every other Gannett newspaper, including USA Today, as shown below.
Thus we've got a so-called "community" newspaper whose web site is a clone of the Gannett design that is mandated to be used by the Statesman Journal's corporate masters.
But Woo-hoo! -- the site got two first place awards from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association in the large newspaper category. Which is rather misleadingly described in today's We're So Cool Statesman Journal story.
The Statesman's awards came in the category for large daily newspapers, which includes The Oregonian and the Eugene Register Guard.
Actually, that category not only includes the Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, and Salem Statesman Journal, that is everybody in the large daily category.
(I'm pretty certain of this, since the cutoff is 25,000 circulation, and the Statesman Journal just barely qualifies at 27,000 or so, having lost 41% of its subscribers over the past eight years, and there aren't any Oregon cities close to the size of Portland, Eugene, and Salem.)
So like kids at camp who get a ribbon after a canoe race because everyone's a winner, this is how awards are liberally awarded by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association.
The Oregonian, Register Guard, and Statesman Journal all get a win, place, or show in the large newspaper category! Hey, the Statesman Journal proudly proclaims, we got fourteen second and third place awards along with the two first place awards... out of three competitors.
Again, everybody's a winner.
Over on the Register-Guard web site, Eugene's newspaper is touting how it won 25 awards (compared to 16 for the Statesman Journal) and 7 first place awards (compared to 2 for the Statesman Journal -- which weren't really deserved, since the paper's web site wasn't designed locally).
Probably because the Oregonian knows that it rules Oregon's newspaper world, I wasn't able to find a story about how many awards Portland's paper won. After all, LeBron James doesn't get all excited about slam-dunking over a rookie defender.
[Update: As I suspected, it turns out that the Oregonian won 17 first place awards and 34 awards overall. So the Statesman Journal was third out of three, award-wise.]
Overall, somehow the Statesman Journal beat out the Register Guard for second in the "general excellence" award in the large newspaper category.
The Statesman Journal won more than a dozen awards, including second-place for general excellence, at the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association annual Best Newspaper contest this week in Lincoln City.
...The Oregonian took first place in the general excellence category. The Register Guard took third.
Out of three. But hey, the Statesman Journal coming in second in a three person race is what it is.
I'm just kind of perplexed how the Register Guard could win many more journalism awards overall than the Statesman Journal did, and also many more first place awards, yet still beat out Salem's paper in the general excellence category.
I'll stand by my scathing criticisms of the Statesman Journal. Which include...
Maybe it's time for the Statesman Journal to die
The Statesman Journal newspaper is failing Salem
The Statesman Journal is trying to trick Salem
Salem Statesman Journal hit with journalistic ethics complaints
[Update: I forgot to mention an award I want to give to the Oregonian: Best (And Probably Only) Newspaper With a Marijuana-Plant Growing Web Cam Plus Regular Updates on the Progress of the Little Cannabis Sprouts.
On the non-award side, I detest the Oregonian's web site even more than the Statesman Journal's. The Oregonian should go to a middle school computer class and ask the kids to design a web site for the newspaper. For sure they'd come up with something better than the bizarrely incomprehensible layout of the Oregonian's current site.]