Note to Readers: The Globe and Mail has returned an award it received from the Online News Association after learning that it was mistakenly entered in the incorrect category. It was brought to our attention that due to a misinterpretation of the entry instructions, the multimedia project Breaking Caste – which won for Best Feature, Medium at the Online Journalism Awards – had been submitted in the wrong size category. The Globe and Mail alerted the ONA, and has returned the award. The original online story about the award remains below.
A major multimedia project by The Globe and Mail on poverty and class in India has been honoured as one of the year's best pieces of digital journalism.
The in-depth series Breaking Caste was recognized as Best Feature, Medium at the Online News Association's annual awards Saturday evening in San Francisco, which recognized outstanding work from news organizations around the world.
The project examined the struggles of girls at the bottom of India's social order, even as the country emerges as a major player on the global stage. Through video, audio, photos and interactive graphics, the project told the story of the Prerna school in Bihar, India, which offers a remarkable and life-changing opportunity to "untouchable" girls to gain an education.
"The whole point of our Breaking Caste project is to start a conversation about one of the most hushed-up issues of the new India," said Stephanie Nolen, The Globe's India-based correspondent, who reported the project.
"For me, the most powerful thing about the Web project is that it allows us to show the girls of Prerna in their own drawings, their own words, their own photographs – and to share their voices, critically important voices that are almost never given space in the Indian media or anywhere else."
With support from The Globe's digital multimedia team, Ms. Nolen was able to take readers beyond a traditional newspaper story and into the lives of the students and workers at the school, so they could see them, hear them and talk with them.
Videographer Lana Slezic and photographer Candace Feit accompanied Ms. Nolen on her many trips to India's poorest state, Bihar. Their photos and videos helped paint a dynamic portrait of an ambitious goal to reshape life for the girls at the very bottom of the Hindu caste system.
The project resonated with Globe readers, who tweeted their support for the school and connected with ways to get involved.
"To create a rich, multimedia experience around the lives of a group of disenfranchised girls in a remote village requires true teamwork," said Jill Borra, The Globe's executive editor, who was in San Francisco to accept the award. "This award recognizes a terrific collaboration between Stephanie and our photographers, videographers, community editors and multimedia team to bring light to an extraordinary story."
The Globe had also been nominated for an award under the Explanatory Reporting, Medium category for The Immigrant Answer, a series that took a 360-degree look at immigration to Canada – including why Canada needs to open its doors to more immigrants to ensure future prosperity and how Canada must jockey with other countries to attract the best and brightest in a competitive international market. Joe Friesen was lead reporter on the project.
The Online News Association honours winning projects for "pushing the envelope of innovation and excellence in digital storytelling and distribution."