12 years Grimme Online Award, 12 years at the pulse of online media trends: Since 2007 Prof Michael Schwertel, Professor of Media Management at the Cologne Business School, is a member of the nomination committee and the jury for the Grimme Online Award. He has already discovered many talents of online journalism. In the course of the current competition we interviewed him about his work and the role of his own taste in the nomination commission and how he transfers the knowledge in teaching.
CBS: You have already been a member of the Grimme Online Award Nomination Commission for several years. What is the significance of the award for Internet journalism?
Prof Michael Schwertel: You could call it the Oscar of online journalism. His independence distinguishes him: The Grimme Institute ensures the neutrality of the competition process, but it has no influence on the vote within the jury. The only thing that counts is the quality of the journalistic contribution.
CBS: What criteria do you use to evaluate the proposals submitted?
Prof Michael Schwertel: The contributions must come from German-speaking countries, must not contain any advertising content or be produced by the members of the commission. Lone fighters with passion have just as good chances as a large content team. The contributions should have a certain standard of the user interface or an appealing layout. However, professionalism is not our top priority, but the passion for good content!
CBS: What role does the taste of the commission members’ play?
Prof Michael Schwertel: Your own taste plays no role in the nomination process. I always come across contributions that I probably wouldn’t have watched at home. However, it is often precisely these contributions that surprise me the most. Each entry is also discussed within our jury of journalists and media scientists, so each of the more than 1.000 suggestions on average are jointly evaluated.
CBS: How do you work on online journalism in class?
Prof Michael Schwertel: As a jury member of the Nomination Commission, I get a good overview of media trends on the Internet every year. I present this “knowledge advantage” to my students in class and use the newly discovered formats to discuss what constitutes “quality characteristics of media”. In the seminar, for example, we analyze the quality differences between YouTube videos and Netflix series and record what these consist of. Class units on digital storytelling and cross-media management will also be discussed in the courses using current examples.
CBS: What role does online journalism play in the new specialisations of the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs “General Management” and “International Business”?
Prof Michael Schwertel: Online journalism and digital storytelling are part of the seminar “Digital Marketing”, which was thematically included in each of the four specialisations. In general, students can use digital storytelling to learn how to build up a recipient relationship with a brand through gripping stories. This knowledge is indispensable for a position in marketing, public relations, but also as a bridge between the individual departments of a company.
CBS: Thank you for the interview!
Proposals for the Grimme Online Award 2019 can be submitted until March 1st, 2019. More information can be found at: https://www.grimme-online-award.de/2019/nutzerformular/