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Winners of The Drum Awards for Online Media announced for 2021

Mixmag took home this year's top honour, as well as two individual category wins.

The 2021 results of The Drum Awards for Online Media have been announced, with Mixmag taking home top honours. Channel4, Pink News, Belfast Live, Aljazeera and RT Channel are also among this year’s winners.

The Drum Awards for Online Media honour original, clever and thought-provoking work, as well as the online platforms that make it possible to share those stories. With misinformation a growing concern, and insightful coverage of social, political and public health issues as important as they have every been, this competition looks to celebrate the best in the business.

Anna Doble, digital editor of the BBC World Service English, was the chair of this year’s jury, a diverse group of experts including editors, reporters and senior figures from Bloomberg, Reuters, CNN, Gay Times, Wired UK and Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.

The Drum is proud to present these awards with the support of PA Media and the Journalists’ Charity.

If you missed the virtual ceremony, you can now catch up below, as well as reading about some of the winning work.

Grand Prix - Website of the Year

Winner: Mixmag

Mixmag’s coverage hit two of the biggest touchstones of the last year, proving that art and culture are inseparable from the social issues that shape important journalism. Their two wins this year both draw on the magazine’s unique standing as the world’s oldest dance music and club culture publisher to tackle vital social issues.

Editorial Campaign of the Year

Last year, George Floyd’s death reignited the Black Lives Matter movement in a new and global way. As the expert on dance music and the associated culture, the team at Mixmag understands how the work of Black artists and creatives forms the bedrock of music, art and fashion,

The magazine’s 18-35 audience is one that particularly demands authenticity. The team needed to create an editorial campaign in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, supporting the movement within the context of their specialist subjects: dance music, club culture and the wider music industry.

Setting out to educate the Mixmag audience on the Black roots of dance music and the challenges faced by Black people working in the music industry, it also brought the music community together to celebrate the work of Black artists and musicians. Co-ordinated by just two full-time members of staff with a modest budget of £6000, it achieved incredible organic reach and began conversation that will hold the industry to account for years to come.

What the judges said: We agreed this was an outstanding entry. The campaign wasn’t just a nod to a movement; it actually engaged a community and started conversations. It was powerful and delivered impressive engagement/traffic, and even effected change within their own organisation. A winner in every sense.

Best Campaigning / Investigative Journalism

The arrest of superstar DJ Erick Morillo sent shockwaves through the music industry when he was charged with sexual battery. Mixmag's exclusive investigation, published six weeks later, uncovered a 30-year history of harrasment and abuse. It was followed by a campaign of interviews with female veterans of the music industry, including Kristen Knight, the woman who first reported Morillo to the police.

In a unique position to both comment on, and help shape dance, music culture, the magazine has long fought against sexual harassment and gender discrimination, in the music industry as well as on dancefloors. The investigation prompted the Association For Electronic Music to release an industry wide Code Of Conduct to combat sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Mixmag’s Managing Director Nick Stevenson said the Morillo investigation was very much in the public interest of its audience, as well as the music industry that Mixmag represents. While it may not have the same infrastructure or budget as mainstream media outlets, he believes it is an editorial platform that does not shy away from telling the truth.

What the judges said: An important story that was sensitively handled. It connected powerfully with the reader through the first-person testimony. The nature of the story telling was authentic and the simplicity of how it was structured made it a compelling read. It captured the nuance around sexual assault and predatory behaviour. The pace and turnaround of the story from blog post to fully fledged investigation was also impressive.

Chair Award / Best Pivot Initiative

Winner: First Create The Media

Work: The Zoe Covid Symptom Study: how an app built in a weekend shaped the UK’s response to Covid-19.

In February 2020, Zoe was a health science startup focusing on precision nutrition. A month later, the Zoe Covid Symptom Study app - built by the development team over a weekend – was the biggest community-led Covid-19 study in the world.

Since then, more than 4.5 million contributors in the UK, US and Sweden have collectively logged more than 285m daily health reports, more than 3.4 million tests and 350,000 vaccines. The app allowed health bodies to monitor the spread of Covid-19 and understand this new disease. It has recruited tens of thousands of people for clinical trials of treatments and vaccines, and supported a schools monitoring programme to keep children and staff safe.

By giving app contributors well-explained scientific and health information, Zoe has built an app, brand and content stream that shaped the course of the pandemic: changing medical guidance, informing the public, driving the news agenda and saving lives.

What the Chair said: In a news year like no other, this entry did something really remarkable, both technologically and in terms of its direct impact on our lives and health. This innovation helped build not only better understanding of the pandemic, it also gave millions of people a daily ritual during lockdown. It also allowed 3.4 million people to get tested.

Commercial Campaign of the Year

Winner: Channel 4

Campaign: 4Studio and The Body Shop: Unseen Kingdoms

How can a brand authentically shine a light on female homelessness in the UK? That was the challenge given to 4Studio by The Body Shop, who tasked the team with creating a social branded content series to highlight their Christmas charity partnership with End Youth Homelessness, a nationwide movement of local charities.

In partnership with TCO London, they created Unseen Kingdoms, a short form online series exploring the impact homelessness has on young women, using spoken-word poetry as a storytelling tool.

The Body Shop’s first ever Christmas TV commercial was included as part of the campaign, sitting alongside the flm series. This collaboration led to incredible results for the brand: the social series attracted over 2m views and 22,000 engagements. It made a real connetion with viewers: the video‘s comments section brims with people sharing personal stories of their own experience of homelessness.

What the judges said: The messaging was compelling, focused on female homelessness and hygiene poverty – both very important issues. The work was shot and edited beautifully, the storytelling was unique. Focused on strong, empowered women, it was both engaging and emotional.

Technical Innovation of the Year

Winner: RT Channel

Work: Lessons of Auschwitz: VR tribute by school students

The Auschwitz concentration camp remains a painful memorial, a testament to the indescribable cruelty of the Holocaust. ‘Lessons of Auschwitz‘ was born from a comprehensive multi-stage six-month production. Using XR film technology, it unites history, the personal emotions of visiting teenagers, music and innovative immersive tech to create powerful, moving art that sustains historical memory in a digital world.

The team arranged for nine Russian students to visit Auschwitz and learn about the holocaust. The teenagers later used Tilt Brush to draw 3D images and were filmed with volumetric video - a technique capturing three-dimensional space, allowing the images to be transformed directly into 3D where they would later react to sound waves.

Since the start of the project, it has generated more than 35 million impressions, 250,000 engagements, over 50,000 followers, 4,000,000 video views (800,000 minutes of watch time) and 200 publications in media.

What the judges said: Phenomenal creative direction and application of technology which emotionally connects with people. The educational value of ‘Lessons of Auschwitz‘ is hard to put into words. This project did something new with a topic that has been covered extensively. It created a way for the story and legacy to live on and reach new generations.

The full list of winners and highly commended entries can be found on the website for The Drum Awards for Online Media.