The Atlanta Jewish Times once again won Best Website at the American Jewish Press Association conference as part of the 42nd annual Simon Rockower Awards ceremony held July 11 at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
According to the judges’ report: “The Atlanta Jewish Times has a polished, modern website. It is easy to navigate and follows many principles of good web design. Its social media, newsletter, and subscription links are displayed at the top, as they should be. Its latest news section includes timestamps, which is important for showing that the site is fresh. The events section includes two types of formats to attract reader interest.”
As the judging period took place shortly after Passover, the version of the website that was judged included the AJT’s popular annual community and staff Passover messages. As such, the judges also commented on how the section of Passover messages from community members “helps connect readers to familiar faces and names.”
It’s relevant to note that most of the award categories included divisions based on the publications’ subscription totals, so that publications of relatively equal size can squarely compete against one another. However, the Best Website category included no divisions, as all eligible AJPA publications competed against one another, with the AJT’s website taking first place.
Associate editor Sasha Heller said, “We challenged ourselves last year to take an already great website and make it better. Now, the challenge is to repeat.”
Heller continued, “Having a viable website in today’s industry is essential for any publication. And it’s one of the reasons the AJT is successful…the website is just one part of our media footprint, along with our print editions, AJT Connector, Jewish Time podcasts, newsletters, and social media presence.”
Heller added that he feels the AJT’s site is popular because its sleek, modular design is tailored for mobile devices, but the user interface also works well on desktop computers. “It’s the best of both worlds and that’s important because roughly half of our website traffic comes from smartphones and tablets and half from desktop systems.”
AJT freelancers Jan Jaben-Eilon and Dave Schechter also won personal awards for their local reporting and editorial selections.
Jaben-Eilon won second place for The Boris Smolar Award for Excellence in Enterprise or Investigative Reporting (Division A: Weekly and Biweekly Newspapers) for her series of articles covering local antisemitic acts and Holocaust education, including:
• Incident at Cobb School Horrifies Jewish Community
• East Side Elementary’s New Logo Disturbs Community
• Cobb Middle School Students Get Holocaust Lesson
“It is always nice to be recognized for the hard work we do on stories we care about,” said Jaben-Eilon.
Schechter won second place for Best Freelancer, with no specification for division, as all AJPA freelancers competed together in the same category. Schechter won his award for the following three articles:
• An Iowa farm girl’s pen pal was Anne Frank. A tiny museum remembers their brief correspondence – published by Jewish Telegraphic Agency
• The Southern Israelite and the Holocaust
• Ukraine and Jewish Ties That Bind
The judges included comments for Schechter’s selections, noting: “Impressive range, from Iowa farm fields to Ukraine and the depths of his own paper’s archives, each story has a lovely narrative flow but with purpose and empathy.”
Additionally, Schechter’s article on Anne Frank’s pen pal also received second place for the category of North American Jewish History.
Schechter said, “Recognition by the American Jewish Press Association, through its Rockower Awards, is appreciated. My thanks to the Atlanta Jewish Times and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency for publishing the articles that were honored.”
“Atlanta Jewish Times was named ‘Best Newspaper’ and now we get to add ‘Best Website’ to our first-place awards from the American Jewish Press Association because we work hard,” said Kaylene Ladinsky, AJT’s editor and managing publisher. “We love our community and want to serve up the very best to our readers and visitors with everything we publish. I couldn’t be prouder of our staff and freelance team that makes it happen every day. They are the best, so it’s only natural that the AJT is ‘best’, too.”