Monday afternoon, the Online News Association (ONA) announced the finalists for this year’s installment of the professional journalism organization’s awards ceremony. To win one of these prized honors, you’ve got to be “pushing the envelope of innovation and excellence in digital storytelling and distribution,” the ONA says.

The topics of the news stories and commentary up for 2013 honors reflect much of the tragedy encountered by Americans over the past year, including Boston University News Service’s coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings in April, the wreckage Hurricane Sandy left behind according to the New York Times and Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s fantastic coverage of the three Ohio women found alive after years of imprisonment. Important reporting by the Texas Tribune, ESPN, Mother Jones and ProPublica found its way onto ONA’s list also, alongside lesser known niche projects like EarthFix, an environmental reporting venture based out of Oregon. And duh, the NYT’s “Snowfall” multimedia feature is in the running for an award, despite the semi-controversy surrounding what the legacy paper’s foray into experimental online storytelling meant, and implications for the future of Web journalism. Going to go ahead and call an early win for “Snowfall” under the large feature umbrella.

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