Reforming The Webby Awards

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I’m not griping about Tuesday night’s Webby Awards simply because MotherJones.com, winner of 2005 and 2006 Webbys for Best Political Blog, wasn’t even nominated this year. I’m griping because I don’t think that the awards show is headed in the right direction.

First, it’s not televised. The result is that awards nominees don’t get the same attention that Broadway performers (at the Tonys) or even sound technicians (at the Oscars) do. Why can’t web awards be a full-fledged red carpet event? With Tim Gunn tactfully commenting on Arianna Huffington’s poor taste in dress, or kooky Joan Rivers telling Kevin Drum that his wife looks great, even though he has actually brought his cat Domino as his date?

In its infancy, it was nice that Webby Award winners were limited to five word speeches. But now that so many winners are among the world’s best and brightest, I think we’d all like to hear what they have to say in more than 1/3 of a haiku.

As for the award categories themselves, they need to be reformed. Individual bloggers, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and other talented people don’t get the recognition they deserve by way of the Webby’s current list of 70 generalized categories.

And while Mother Jones has clearly reaped the benefits of winning these awards, the fact that they are “pay to play” makes it such that some web sites never get the recognition they deserve.

Maybe it’s up to someone else to start a new system of web-based awards. How would one go about doing this? Easy: First give the awards more visibility and hype than the Webbys, then give the winners a higher karat statuette.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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