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What it meant to win: ‘Best New Site’ honoree Travis Hay of ‘Guerrilla Candy’

— by board member Melissa Dahl

Travis Hay

Editor and producer Travis Hay won Best New Site in SPJ’s Excellence in Journalism regional contest last year for his Seattle-area music news website, Guerilla Candy. As an independent journalist, Hay was particularly excited to win a prestigious prize from a traditional journalism organization like SPJ.

“SPJ has some amazing online categories now,” Hay said, adding that a stamp of approval from SPJ can play a part in helping independent journalists like him to “shed the stigma of bloggers being tabloid journalists, as opposed to someone who can operate a legitimate website and operate as a journalist.”

Here, he chats with SPJ about what winning Best New Site meant to him.

Have work you’d like to see recognized by your peers? Check out this year’s contest and submit your entries today!

Q: What made you decide to enter the Excellence in Journalism contest?

A: “I’ve been an SPJ member, I support SPJ and I know the money goes to a good cause. And I like being recognized by my peers; it’s nice to be acknowledged and recognized.

But also, for what I do, operating a music blogging website, [the award] kind of distinguishes me a little bit from my peers. It’s something that a lot of other sites might not be aware of, or they might not consider themselves to be eligible for. (Editor’s note: You probably are eligible!)

Music news site Guerrilla Candy beat out the competition in last year's 2010 SPJ Excellence in Journalism contest to take top prize as "Best New Site" in the region.

Q: You’re an independent journalist who last year won a prestigious, traditional journalism award. What did that mean to you, personally?

A: “Out of the awards I’ve won, it’s definitely the one I’m most proud of. I started the website from the ground up. [The site] still says I won that award — it’s one of the first things you see on the site.

Q: What do you think all of this might say about how the industry is changing?

A: Journalism, to me, is about telling stories, and chronicling history — and currently there’s so much change in the industry as far as what consists of a news website. It’s tricky to say that there’s any one direction that journalism is going, but it’s nice to see that an organization like SPJ is recognizing the efforts of non-traditional media.

See a list of all of last year’s regional Excellence in Journalism winners.

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