Well, that was fun. Two weeks of voting for the annual Paper Trail awards prompted some interesting results but no real surprises in terms of winners. The closest vote came for the Best Alternative Media Outlet, where some voiced concerns over the inclusion of the blog Club Trillion, a popular journal kept by Ohio State basketball player Mark Titus. I'm not here to argue those points—we'll cross that bridge next time around if we must. Instead, I'm here to deliver the goods.
Here are the winners:
Story of the Year: College graduates find a miserable job market. I can't say I'm shocked. My Facebook news feed is full of 2008 and 2009 college graduates begging for jobs, as if their fellow jobless friends could help them. This story didn't get a majority of the votes, but the 39.5 percent was more than 11 percentage points higher than the second-place topic, which was the technological revolution hitting high gear. Here's to hoping 2010 is kinder to job-seeking graduates.
Nonstory of the Year: Balloon boy. As I said in the poll, I have no idea how balloon boy could possibly connect to the usual topics of Paper Trail, but I couldn't keep it off the list. This (non)story gripped the nation, and I remember seeing people here at U.S. News offices dropping what they were doing to follow the coverage. Balloon boy got 57.9 percent of the vote. The next closest option was the overhyped H1N1 flu return this fall, which got 21 percent of the vote. And yet, for all of its nonstoryness (I know this is not a real word, but it just feels right, doesn't it?), I couldn't stop watching when Larry King interviewed Richard Heene on Larry King Live. (Oh, and admit it, you really wanted to see Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger emerge from the balloon when it safely landed, didn't you? I know I did.)
Newsmaker of the Year: Barack Obama. I really thought Tiger Woods, Bernie Madoff, and Twitter founders Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams would come closer to Obama now that he's been president for nearly a year, but they never stood a chance. Obama won the category with 56.8 percent of the vote. Tiger and the Twitter guys each got about 9 percent, while Bernie Madoff got a quarter of the vote.
Alternative Media Outlet of the Year: Onward State. Easily the most hotly contested award, this category gets a lot of attention. I will say this: If you really want to see sites like the University of Nonsensical Happenings or The Bwog up for awards, then nominate them when we ask for nominations. Otherwise, they don't get on the list. It's that simple. Now, Onward State got 49 percent of the vote, edging out Club Trillion by less than 4 percentage points for its second consecutive victory. Face it, Onward State is to alternative student media outlets what Ohio State football is to the Big Ten.
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