The winners of the Detusche Welle’s 2004 International Weblog Awards have been decided. The international jury honored Weblogs in 11 categories and over 60,000 users voted to award User Prizes in each of the categories.
"If we can't talk about people than we'll talk about dogs," said the jury prize winner in the Deutsche Welle International Weblog Awards 2004, the first international blog competition.
Deciding to honor "The Dog Newspaper" with the Best Weblog award from seven different languages was relatively easy for the Best of the Blogs -- the BOBs -- jury members. Put together with a collage style, the blog presents the unfair conditions suffered by dogs in China and Asia compared to the treatment of animals in the western world.
"The jury members saw the winning blog as a successful metaphor for the situation of people living in China and other nations," said Guido Baumhauer, online editor-in-chief at Deutsche Welle and BOBs organizer. "The blog is a good example of Weblogs bringing up an issue that is not tackled by the traditional media."
"The Weblog can be understood as a parable," Chinese jury member Mu Zimei (photo) confirmed. "The way dogs live is projected onto the lives of humans – dogs’ rights onto human rights."
The rest of the BOBs jury – which consisted of 10 representatives from seven languages – was convinced the "Dog Newspaper" best filled the tough criteria for the Best Weblog honors with its unique angle, its good use of design and well-written entries. It also won a second award for Best Journalistic Chinese blog.
The blog's creator, known only under his Internet name of the "Aggressive Little Snake," said he was pleased to hear the results.
"I did not expect to win the BOBs, there are probably a lot of other people who are surprised as well," said "Little Snake," whom sponsors will present with a top-of-the-line notebook computer. "I think my winning an award like this might encourage other bloggers."
English language winners
The jury's award for the Best Journalistic Blog in English went to the "Lessig Blog." Lawrence Lessig uses his Weblog to focus the public's attention on digital media matters and also mentions political and social issues. A law professor at Stanford University, Lessig was able to beat out stiff competition from some of the best-known blogs in the English language, such as "Talking Points Memo" and "Bloggerheads."
"Editor: Myself," a Weblog that examines the Iranian government's crack down on freedom of the press, won the English user award in the Best Journalistic blog category.
Large response in Latin America
The competition's global perspective is what set it apart from other blog contests and meant it could produce a better picture of the international blog scene, Baumhauer said at the end of a competition which included over 1,000 entries from around the world.
"The international jury was especially impressed with the numerous entries that came from Spain and Latin America, while interest from the English-speaking world was surprisingly low," he added.
The jury awarded the BOB in the Best Topic category to the Spanish Weblog "El Hombre Que Comía Diccionarios" (The Man Who Ate Reference Works). The blog's snippets of random knowledge function as a "metaphor for Internet culture," said well-known Spanish blogger and BOBs jury member Dr. José Luis Orihuela.
Many languages, many blogs
"The suggested blogs were of very high quality," reported BOBs jury member, DW-TV editor and German Weblog veteran Konstantin Klein. "Regular updates and innovative ideas were important criteria for me," he said of the tough jury process.
Klein’s interest and active personal involvement in the competition was shared by all the jury members, who knew they needed to take a long, hard look at the nominated Weblogs.
"What is a really good blog today can be a really bad blog tomorrow," said jury member Jörg Kantel (photo), who writes one of the German blogosphere's best-known blogs, "schockwellenreiter.de."
Judging blogs in seven different languages also presented a challenge for the jury members. They received editorial support from the editors at DW-WORLD.DE, the Deutsche Welle's multi-lingual Internet presence.
Over 60,000 online votes
In addition to the 11 jury awards (one for each category including seven language journalism awards and awards for best topic, design and innovation as well as best overall Weblog), 11 other BOBs were given out in the User Prizes.
The users' choice for Best Weblog award went to Brazilian blogging pioneer Nemo Nox's "Por um Punhado de Pixels" (For a Handful of Pixels).
There were some 67,000 votes cast in the online voting, said Holger Hank, editorial director at DW-WORLD. “That is a result we can be very happy with," he added.
"Our intention was to get in contact with the international Weblog community, and that certainly worked," Hank said. "Weblogs are an Internet format with a future."
The BOBs also have a future, according to Hank. "We're definitely planning to run the competition again in 2005!"