This week, the Online News Association announced the finalists for its Online Journalism Awards, honoring excellence in digital journalism. Among them were nine investigative reports, many of which used multimedia tools to get behind the story with powerful visuals, databases and original documents.

Investigative, Large Site

> Unequal Justice |, The Dallas Morning News
Five-part series uses video, print and interactive features to probe why so many Dallas County murderers are on probation. Also nominated for the Knight Award for Public Service.

> Talking to the Taliban |
Provides a portrait of Taliban foot soldiers in their own words, based on interviews conducted by a single researcher with a video camera and standardized questionnaire. All 42 transcribed, raw videos are included in the six-part series, along with graphics, maps and discussions with reporter Graeme Smith. Also nominated in the Multimedia Feature, Large Site category.

> Inside the CIA’s Notorious “Black Sites” |, Mark Benjamin
The “first in-depth, first-person account from inside the secret U.S. prisons,” given by Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, a Yemeni held for 19 months without being charged.

> Big Phat Liar |
Print story unravels how “a federal inmate duped the Los Angeles Times, fabricated FBI reports, and linked Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs to 1994 ambush of Tupac Shakur.”

Investigative, Small Site

> Schools Promote Students Despite Widespread Failure |, Arizona Daily Star
Three-part series uses print and video storytelling to uncover social promotion of failing students in Tucson-area schools, then provides original documents and a database of local school performance to dig deeper.

> Blood and Money |, East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune
Traces the path of human smuggling from Mexico to Arizona using a three-part print series, videos in both Spanish and English, and interactive route maps.

> Coincidence or Cluster |, The Northwest (Ill.) Herald
Six-part series on the McCullom Lake brain cancer lawsuits and the stories behind them, told through videos, interactive maps and original documents gathered over a six-month investigation.

> The Permanent Republican Majority |, The Raw Story
Five-part investigation into the “architects and the execution of backroom Republican politics,” starting with the jailing of Don Siegelman, former Democratic governor of Alabama.

> ‘I Didn’t Do That Murder’: Lebrew Jones and the death of Micki Hall |, The Times Herald Record (Middletown, N.Y.)
Uses videos, graphics and original case files to investigate the 20-year-old murder case of a New York City prostitute, and the man who says he was wrongly convicted.

The winners will be announced at the 2008 ONA Conference Awards Banquet on Sept. 13 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C.

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