Welcome to Gambit's Best of New Orleans 2014
[Around the office we just call it BONO.]
Every year we try to change it up a bit, from adding and dropping some categories to the presentation of the winners. This year we've given over the entire issue to #BONO2014 (with the exception of listings); all the regular Gambit features will be back next week. We've also made it more visually appealing with bolder use of photography and new section openers throughout the paper.
Often we get questions about methodology, and I've tried to answer a few of those:
How do you pick the categories? We start working on Best of New Orleans in May, when we have a few meetings reviewing the issue from the year before, culling some categories and adding other ones. Some are topical and funny ("Best Place to Get Kale," "Best Prison Nickname for Ray Nagin") and some reflect our changing city and world ("Best Vape Shop").
How do you count all those ballots?
We couldn't do it without managing editor Kandace Graves, who has kept BONO on track for more than a decade via various platforms. Only ballots that are more than 50 percent complete are counted, and we have ways to weed out cheaters (and there are some with every issue). One big change we made this year was going strictly to online voting, which sped up the process considerably and kept us from having to hand-enter all those paper ballots that used to arrive daily at Gambit World HQ in Mid-City.
Are the results really real? Absolutely, and they reflect your tastes, not necessarily those of the staff. Some seem to remain the same year after year (after year, after year ... ), while others reflect changing times (in the 2004 edition, the top three winners in "Best Local Figure Who Should Run For President" were Ray Nagin, Bobby Jindal and David Vitter).
What's the biggest change this year? Without question, it's the dining categories. New Orleans has had so many restaurants — and so many different kinds of restaurants — open in the last few years that the choices in the dining field are more varied than ever, with lots of new names leaping onto the list.
One final note: Last year we teamed up with our television partner, WWL-TV, to present a Best of New Orleans TV special, hosted by Sheba Turk and Derek Kevra. Derek's gone, so this year we've got a new cohost: Gambit's special sections editor Missy Wilkinson. Tune in to see Sheba, Missy and some other Gambit staffers present "Best of New Orleans 2014" at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26 on WWL-TV.
And for all you voters who made it through the whole ballot: Well done. This is your Best of New Orleans.
• Bars & Entertainment
• Local Life
• Goods & Services