BYU's NewsNet returning 2 national Web page awards

Christi C. Babbitt
The Daily Herald

May 31, 2003

BYU's student news organization is returning two national awards for its Web page after learning that students replicated material for the page's design from another Internet site.

NewsNet won a first-place award for Web page design in a competition sponsored by the University of Missouri chapter of the Society of Newspaper Design and a second-place award for best college newspaper online service in a competition sponsored by the national communication trade publication Editor & Publisher.

The awards were given based on a design by two undergraduate communications students who approached NewsNet staff in early March and received permission to redesign the NewsNet Web site. The redesign was completed and the design entered in the two contests in approximately mid-April, said Jim Kelly, NewsNet general manager.

On April 28, an e-mail was sent by a BYU student to a general mailbox at NewsNet expressing concern that portions of the new Web page design had been copied from, a Web-building instruction site.

"When we were notified that there were these concerns, we immediately started to make changes on the site," Kelly said. The two students, whose names were not released, were contacted by NewsNet and the allegation verified. One student graduated in April; the other is a returning student.

"What the students did is wrong, and we apologize to the two contest sponsors and the owners of," Kelly said. Design elements used from included "graphics, table definitions and a similar color palette," he said.

NewsNet was notified before the allegation surfaced that it was a finalist in the Editor & Publisher contest. When the issue arose, a decision was made to take no action because that award was based on content, not design, Kelly said. The Editor & Publisher award was received about two weeks ago.

No formal notification was ever given to NewsNet of the other first-place award; a NewsNet staff member found notification of it on the Web and Kelly learned of it Thursday afternoon.

"When we had concluded that we had won first place in this national competition for a design category, we made the decision to return both awards," Kelly said. "In hooking both (awards) together, we wanted to make sure that there was no perception that we had tried to compete at a national level with material that wasn't ours."

Copyright 2003