Some congratulations are in order ... and some disdain as well. But let's start with the positives.
American Business Media has released the finalists for its Jesse Neal Business Journalism awards. The Neal awards are among the more prestigious prizes in our industry. And it shouldn't come as a surprise that some of the best publications in our our industry -- Computerworld, CFO and Editor & Publisher, for example -- are among the finalists.
You can take a look at the full list on this pdf.
But when you read that list of finalists, you may find you are as surprised and disappointed as I am to see that eWeek is a finalist for Best Web Site.
Just yesterday I pointed out that eWeek is in violation of ABM's ethics guidelines. And it's beyond me why the screening judges at ABM would think that a site that embarrasses the entire world of B2B journalism should be considered a symbol of what is best in B2B journalism.
And it's not just the ethical failings that should have ruled out eWeek. The simple truth is that Ziff Davis' eWeek.com has other problems as well.
Take a look. Notice the incredibly slow load time. Try to make it to the bottom of the text-filled monstrosity of a home page without your eyes bleeding. This is the sort of site that must give Jakob Nielsen nightmares.
eWeek is also a functional mess. As I write this piece, I see that the link on the home page that is supposed to take me to a blog post about "the Ballmer Era," instead takes me to a slide show about Microsoft Vista.
The thing that is truly saddest about these shortcomings is that much of eWeek is actually quite good. The site does have some of the things that make for compelling online content -- the blogs and slideshows mentioned above, as well as feedback functions on article pages.
But all that is good about eWeek is overshadowed by the fact that the site is ugly, performs poorly and is tainted by unethical behavior.
(It's worth noting that one of the other finalists for Best Web site is Forbes, where the staff has fought and won a battle against IntelliTXT links.)
So what explains the appearance of eWeek on the ABM list of finalists?
Perhaps the screening judges are unaware of the IntelliTXT problem. Or perhaps the IntelliTXT links began to appear after the judges made their selections (I'm unsure when they first appeared. I became aware of them last week.) That would certainly make more sense than the alternative explanation: that the judges are unfamiliar with best practices in online design and editorial.
Speaking of best practices, Prescott Shibles says the reason three publications in the Prism stable are among the nominees is because they "all focus on editorial integrity." And interestingly, Shibles says that strengthening the line between editorial and advertising has enhanced revenue, not hurt it.
To take a look at ABM's Editorial Code of Ethics, read this pdf file. Make note that ABM is about as clear as can be on the subject of IntelliTXT ads in editorial copy. "Hypertext links that appear within the editorial content of a site, including those within graphics, must be solely at the discretion of the editors. Links within editorial should never be paid for by advertisers."
To read what I thought of last year's winners of the Neal Awards, click here.
And finally, if someone you work with someone who represents the best in B2B ethics, make sure you nominate them for the Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity. The deadline is Feb. 1.
tags: journalism, b2b, media, trade press, magazines, newsletters, business media, advertising, journalism ethics