The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association announced Dec. 31 that the Web site courier-journal.com of the Louisville Courier-Journal has won the 2008 Media Eclipse Award in the Audio and Multi-Media Internet category for its three-part series on injuries to racehorses, which appeared on its site from Aug. 16-18, 2008.
Following the fatal injury to Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby, The Courier-Journal initiated an investigative examination of horse racing safety, incorporating multiple platforms of audio, video, print, interactive graphics and still photography on courier-journal.com. Titled “Tragedy on the Track,” the series explored genetic research and breeding, track surfaces and performance enhancing medication.
The print pieces were supported by videos, which included a comparison of Thoroughbreds making foot impact on a dirt track and synthetic surfaces; and a demonstration by blacksmith Steve Norman focusing on the differences between flat horse shoes and controversial toe grabs.
“After the deaths of Barbaro and then Eight Belles and the industry and public reaction to them, it was obvious that we needed to take another look at the issue of breakdowns,” said Courier-Journal Sports Editor Harry Bryan.
"It was a real team effort, but it was especially important that our editor, Bennie Ivory, recognized not only the significance of the issue but also the possibilities that the internet provided in conveying the story. He provided us with the time and the resources to get the job done right. The tools of the Internet enabled us to tell the story far more effectively than in previous efforts.”
The principal writers were Jennie Rees, Andrew Wolfson and Greg Hall, with Scott Utterback, videographer and Steve Reed, graphic artist. Other editors involved in the project were John Mura, the multi-media manager of the site, along with Kim Kolarik, new media editor, managing editor Ben Post and First Amendment manager Jean Porter. The site may be viewed at http://www.courier-journal.com/horse.
Honorable mention in the Audio and Multi-Media Internet category went to The New York Times website, nytimes.com, The Rail, for its Kentucky Derby multi-media coverage, which was created by Joe Drape, Bob Goetz, Peter Blair and Melissa Hoppert. The Louisville Courier-Journal also received an honorable mention on courier-journal.com for its Derby week coverage.
Judges for the Audio/Multi Media Internet category were: Brian Horton of Associated Press Broadcast; Mike Kane, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and Mike Farrell, racing journalist and former UPI Radio Reporter.
The Eclipse Awards are presented by the NTRA, National Turf Writers Association (NTWA) and Daily Racing Form. Eclipse Awards are bestowed upon horses and individuals whose outstanding achievements have earned them the title of Champion in their respective categories. Awards also are given to recognize members of the media for outstanding coverage of Thoroughbred racing.
The 38th Annual Eclipse Awards will be held on Monday, Jan. 26, 2009 at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach in Miami Beach, Fla.