The best of the blogosphere was on display at the 2007 Best of the Blogs Awards -- The BOBs. A Belarusian photoblog earned the contest's top jury prize.
The winner of the Best Weblog is an amateur photographer
Alive in Baghdad won as the jury's Best Videoblog, Valour-IT took home the Best Weblog English award and Jotman received the prestigious Reporters Without Borders Award.
To choose the jury award winners, Deutsche Welle invited 15 bloggers and media experts from around the world to Berlin. In an all-day session on Wednesday, Nov. 14, the jury members decided the winners for The BOBs' 15 categories.
Worth a thousand words
Xenia Awimova, a 23-year-old aspiring photojournalist who lives and works in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, runs "Foto-Griffoneurei" ("Photo-Mania"). Her collections of photos chronicle her life and that of her home city.
"In Belarus there are not many independent newspapers or other platforms where people can express their opinions," Awimova said after being told of the award. "That is why a lot of young people write blogs."
Foto-Griffaneurei uses few words to makes its point
The site features a collection of Awimova's black-and-white photos with only a brief description of the picture. It was the simplicity and the beauty of the site that gave it its appeal, jury members said.
"With few words, this excellent blog succeeds in portraying the daily life of people in Belarus," said Christian Gramsch, program director of DW-WORLD.DE and DW-RADIO.
Foto-Griffoneurei narrowly squeaked past TechPresident, an American blog that tracks presidential candidates' use of the Internet and technology in their campaigns.
War in Iraq, war at home
Two blogs with different perspectives of the war in Iraq also won awards. Alive in Baghdad, a videoblog about the daily lives of Iraqis, received the jury's prize in the Best Videoblog category, and Valour-IT, a blog that raises money to buy laptops for injured soldiers, won the Best English Weblog award.
"It is great to get some recognition for your blog outside of the US," said Brian Conley, founder of Alive in Baghdad. "Any recognition we gets supports us and the interests of our Iraqi journalists."
Conley started Alive in Baghdad after going to the city in 2005. There he met Iraqi journalists who wanted the opportunity to tell the stories that were not being covered in the foreign media. Conley gave them the cameras, trained them how to use them and they have been producing films from all over Baghdad ever since.
The BOBs jury meeting took place in Berlin for the second year in a row
"Alive in Baghdad is an exceptional example of what people can do to help the world in a positive way with just a cheap camera and a laptop," said jury member Andrew Baron, the founder of the videoblog Rocketboom.
Inspired by Army Capt. Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss, a military blogger who was severely wounded in Iraq in 2005, Valour-IT uses the Web to raise money to provided injured soldiers with voice-controlled software and laptops.
"This site is truly outstanding in how it has expanded the use of blogging beyond what we are used to," Baron said.
Spotlight on Thailand and Myanmar
An anonymous blogger going by the name of Jotman won the 2007 Reporters Without Borders award. The blogger's coverage of the 2006 coup in Thailand and more recent reports from protests against the military junta in Myanmar, also known as Burma, made him stand out, jury members said.
Presented in cooperation with the human rights organization Reporters Without Borders, this award is given to Weblogs that take a strong stance for freedom of information and expression all over the world.
Award ceremony in Berlin
The Best of the Blogs 2007 came to an end on Thursday night with an awards ceremony at the Museum of Communication in Berlin. Thirty 30 awards were given out, including users'-choice awards.
Over 7,000 Weblogs were nominated for this year's competition, 1,500 more than last year.