The UK's best news websites will be excluded from the 2005 British Press Awards for the second year running.

Organisers have said that categories for best online news site and best online journalist attract too few entries, despite reporting a record number of entries for all other categories in the 2004 awards. They also claim that the standard of entries is not high enough.

"We have so many categories - 28 already - and we do review them every year," said event manager Andrea Hayes.

"But a high standard of award needs a high standard of entries and the category just hasn't generated sufficient response."

The British Press Awards is one of the UK's best established industry prizes and has been running for more than 30 years. High profile gongs include best political journalist, news photographer and national newspaper of the year.

Online journalists are eligible for the specialist writer category, a 'catch-all' award for journalists not eligible for other categories.

An indignant Pete Picton, editor of national newspaper site Sun Online, said: "Their comment that they haven't had a high enough standard of entries is slightly insulting."

"Virtually every newspaper now has a website and I don't understand why they are not included in these awards. News sites are very much a part of how the industry operates."

Previous winners of the award for best online news site included Guardian Unlimited, BBC News Online and the Sport Telegraph.

The award for best online journalist was only offered in 2001 and 2002, and went to Guardian media business correspondent Dan Milmo and Miroslav Filipovic from the Institute of War and Peace Reporting, respectively.

The withdrawal of these web journalism categories for the 2004 awards was last year described as 'myopic ' by Avril Williams, editorial director of Associated New Media.

She accused the organisers of being out of touch with readers' habits and said they were in danger of marginalising one of the most innovative areas of journalism.

The deadline for entries to the 2005 British Press Awards is the 7 January. Awards will be presented at the London Hilton hotel on Park Lane on 15 March 2005.

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