NEW YORK - Though Roger Ebert lost his ability to speak after surgery for cancer, he has found a new and powerful voice online. The film critic was chosen as person of the year by the Webby Awards.
The 13th annual Webbys, which celebrate Internet achievement, were announced Tuesday by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a 550-member group of Web experts.
Ebert was singled out for "raising the bar for online journalism" with his blog on the Chicago Sun-Times' website. He is also an avid Twitterer and is planning a new movie-review TV program that he says will have a strong presence online.
The Webbys also honoured the rock band OK Go, famous for their viral music videos, as video artist of the year. Amy Poehler, former "Saturday Night Live" cast member and star of NBC's "Parks & Recreation," was chosen as actress of the year for her online series "Smart Girls at the Party."
The honoree for lifetime achievement went to Vinton Cerf, one of the Internet's founding fathers who pioneered its communications technology at Stanford University. He is currently "chief Internet evangelist" for Google.
The Webbys have long been famous for their short speeches, which are limited to five words. (Al Gore, accepting his lifetime achievement award, said: "Please don't recount this vote.") This year's winners will accept their awards June 14 in New York at a ceremony hosted by B.J. Novak of "The Office."
Aside from the special achievement awards, the Webbys also honour a variety of categories, each of which includes a winner picked by the academy and one picked by public voting (though the two often arrive at the same choice).
In those categories, the top winners were College Humor and The New York Times, each with five awards, including awards from both the academy and the public.
Viral video of the year went to the Muppets' cover of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" (video is below). The best mash-up or remix video went to "Auto-tune the News" from BarelyPolitical.com.
Jim Carrey's official website won for best celebrity or fan website. Filmmaker David Lynch's "Interview Project" won for best documentary series.
Lisa Kudrow's Web series, "Web Therapy," won for best comedy series, though the "people's choice" Webby in that category went to "Jake and Amir," the College Humor series.
The website for the Make it Right Foundation, the non-profit founded by Brad Pitt, was awarded the Webby for best activist website. Isabella Rossellini won for best individual performance in her "Green Porno" videos for the Sundance Channel.
Twitter won for best social networking; Foursquare won for mobile social networking; and Hulu won for broadband.
Frequent Webby honorees TheOnion.com and ColbertNation.com also were winners. The website for the satirical newspaper The Onion won for best humour, while the official site of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" won for best TV website.
A full list of winners can be found at WebbyAwards.com.