The winners of the third annual South African Weblog Awards – which included a gay and lesbian category for the first time – were announced last week at a ceremony at Cool Runnings in Fourways, Johannesburg.

The awards featured sixteen categories and winners were decided on by both the public and a panel of judges. According to the organisers, more than 5000 votes were received from the public.

Reluctant Nomad – written by a South African living in Amsterdam – scooped the award for Best Gay / Lesbian / Bi and Trans-sexual blog. Runners up in the category included:

Blog of the Year went to Tertia Albertyn’s personal weblog, So Close – an intimate account of her personal battle with infertility.

Popular local celebrity Steve Hofmeyr’s personal blog won Best New blog of the year and surprisingly Best Political blog by popular vote – showing that the entertainer’s reach has extended far into South Africa’s digital community.

Other new category winners included the Muso for Best Music weblog and The ZA Show for Best Podcast.

“All round, this year’s awards have overwhelmingly demonstrated the accelerated growth in popularity of independent publishing in South Africa, since the awards started three years ago”, said organisers in a statement.

The awards came under criticism recently when it was noted that some of the nominees were also on the judging panel. The organisers insisted that these nominees were not allowed to vote in their own categories.

Each category was judged by two panel bloggers (whose votes counted for 10% of the total score), an assigned ‘celebrity’ judge (30%) and the public vote (counting for 50% of the total).

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