British web publishers are showing signs of optimism, according to editor Rafat Ali.

Speaking after this week's Association of Online Publishers (AOP) awards ceremony in London, Mr Ali said that the atmosphere had been electric.

"I think the industry needs an award, if only as a release valve at times. Yesterday was one of those days," he told dotJournalism.

"The optimism is back, I have to say."

Around 430 web publishers attended the 2003 awards on 14 October at the Millennium Mayfair Hotel in London. The ceremony concluded the association's annual conference and the evening was hosted by stand-up comic Sean Meo.

Seventeen awards were presented in total including design, sales and online service. AOP chairman Bill Murray presented a special award to in acknowledgement of their achievement in developing a successful paid subscripton model.

Guardian Unlimited, Reuters and MaximMagazine all scooped prizes for during the evening, but some smaller publications were also rewarded.

Mr Ali said that Runner’s World, which won the award for best new launch consumer site, was the most deserving winner - mostly due to the dedication of online editor Sean Fishpool.

"The site has a chance to capitalise on a very loyal community - and it is doing just that," said Mr Ali, who was also one of the award's judges.

"The great thing is that they are constantly looking to implement new ideas and tools with the small team they have."

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