Digital media has mercilessly shoved its way to the forefront of the media industry these days. It’s on the tip of every CEO’s tongue, the top of every editor’s to-do list, and the topic of seemingly continuous coverage by print and online journalism vehicles alike. (Statistically-unreliable-but-relevant-nonetheless-numbers of the day: by typing “digital media” into Google News just now, I pulled up over 22,000 articles. When typing “digital media” into the Google Blog Search, I was bombarded with over 3 million. Aren’t we chatty?) So, since the official finalist list for ABM’s 2007 Jesse H. Neal Awards hit the wires this past Monday, it comes as no surprise that the digital categories have created the most discussion… and that, as the newest addition to the Neal Awards, the digital category guidelines can cause the most trouble.
In a post following the initial finalist announcement, Paul Conley notes his “surpris[e] and disappoint[ment]” to see eWeek included among the finalists for Best Web site, citing as his primary concern their ethically questionable use of intelliTXT links. (Rex Hammock agrees.) So now the deadly irony strikes: As Paul notes, the use of intelliTXT on eWeek directly goes against ABM’s own Code of Ethics. As the Neal Awards are an ABM program, this could lead one to logically assume such a violation would disqualify an entry... but one would be wrong. (And therein lies the rub.)
I am not sure whether the Neal judges ever saw the intelliTXT links—they review what is on the site on the day of judging (the “day of judging”… how ominous. How about “the day I start praying for vacation”?), and in order to know for sure, the Neal Committee will need to speak with eWeek. What I do know is that while the Neal screening tribunal disqualifies magazines for violations of the ethics code on unlabeled advertorial, etc., no such rules of ethical disqualifications exist for online submissions. Ludicrous sounding, I realize. But you can’t assume anything. (Especially with Awards that may garner their recipients large bonuses.) And with all of this discussion circling around ye ole InterWeb, I’m going to wager a guess that these rules may change next year. Just a guess.
(Note: as an employee of ABM, whose members populate the Neal finalist list, I can make no comment on the quality of specific entries or finalists. See no evil; hear no evil; speak no evil. I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.)
More Neal talk to come...
posted by Sara Sheadel