By Jorge Rojas

APSE First Vice President

Contest chair: Jorge Rojas of The Athletic
jorgerojas1033@gmail.com
954-328-5584
Contest email: apsecontest@gmail.com

ALL questions, issues, alerts, and any other needed communication before, during, and after the contest should be directed to Jorge at the above contact information

CONTEST DEADLINE

  • All Entry Keys — Section, Writing and Digital — are due on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, at 11:59 p.m.

JUDGING

GENERAL RULES

  • Any APSE member that has paid its 2021 dues can enter the contest.
  • If you haven’t paid your 2021 APSE dues, there’s still time to pay them and become eligible to enter APSE’s annual contests. Sign up here: https://www.apsportseditors.com/become-an-apse-member/
  • To enter, you must have a Google account. You’ll need this both to submit entries and to judge come February.
  • For writing entries, we will once again use story links from websites. This means if you have a paywall you need to provide us with a contest username and password (on your entry key), good through March 31, 2022. It also means you will no longer need to copy, paste, glue, redact, etc. Don’t worry, if for some reason you are unable to provide links to your website, we will provide alternate instructions (although it will involve some copying, pasting, mailing, etc.).
  • Each organization will be placed into a division based on size. Though the number of entrants in a caegory won’t be exact, the largest 25 percent of organizations will be in the A Division, the next-largest 25 percent in the B Division, the third-largest 25 percent in the C Division, and the smallest 25 percent in the D Division. That information is provided at the bottom of these instructions. Your organization’s size is based on the circulation or online numbers you provided when you paid dues.
  • This year, the Triple Crown and Grand Slam categories are changing in an effort to be less print-centric. The Triple Crown categories will be Print (Daily Top 10 or Sunday Top 10), Digital (Top 10) and Long Features (Top 10). To be recognized for the Grand Slam, your publication will need to add a Top 10 in the revamped Projects category (which will allow Special Section material to be entered).
  • Try to follow the protocols. Entries that do not adhere to the rules may be disqualified.
  • With the exception of Beat Writing, no article may be entered in more than one writing category.
  • There is a limit of one entry per writer per category, although a writer may be entered in the same category a second time (and only a second time) if he/she is a member of a team (two or more writers) entry. A single team may not be entered twice. 
  • Editors from newspaper chains will be asked to declare which reporters “belong” to which publications. For example, if Steve Wiseman covers Duke and the ACC for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer, the presiding editor should identify which publication he represents (probably Durham). Likewise, stories with multiple writers on a byline must be entered in the highest division. If Wiseman and Scott Fowler share a dual byline, the story must be entered by the Charlotte Observer. This does not apply to contributing taglines. Editors are on their honor here. Please make time to provide a list of where writers who appear in mutliple publications belong by the entry deadline.
  • We will allow dual bylines by writers of different organizations in the single-story categories of Breaking News, Long and Short Features, Explanatory and Game Stories. APSE will recognize both writers if the story finishes in the Top 10, but the home publication (with presumably the home editor) will be listed as the winner and take the prize (plaque/certificate). A maximum of two writers and a maximum of two publications are permitted. If the writers are from different divisions, the article must be entered in the highest category. Here’s an example of how it might look on the Top 10 list: Joe Guillen and Mark Alesia, Detroit Free Press (with Indianapolis Star)   
  • Items entered in the Projects category cannot be entered in another writing category, with the exception of a single story in Beat Writing. You have to choose.
  • Special sections that include content from network and sister publications, including those from those in larger circulation divisions, may be entered in C and D, but judges will place a premium on local/staff content. They will have the discretion to determine how much staff impact the section has — as well as how it was constructed — and grade the entry accordingly.  
  • You cannot enter the same material as a project and as a special section. Again, you have to choose.
  • Please do what you can to avoid waiting until the last minute before the entry deadline so that any questions you may have can be answered swiftly and allow you to submit a clean Entry Key.

NEWSPAPER/WEBSITE DIVISIONS

  • Entries will be judged by division: For news organizations with daily print products, this is determined by average daily circulation; for website-only news organizations, this is determined by unique monthly visitors:
  • All contest entries must be made in the same division. Editors wanting to compete in a larger division must notify Jorge before submitting entries. Those “playing up” will be required to pay the higher dues for the higher division.
  • When one staff publishes sports sections for several papers, they are considered one paper for APSE purposes. To enter individually, these papers need to pay dues individually. Questions on your organization and how it fits in should be directed to APSE president Gary Potosky.
  • When one staff publishes sports sections for several papers, dues must have been paid accordingly, with the combined circulation determining the divisions. If you didn’t follow this procedure when you paid dues, your contest entries are subject to disqualification.

ENTRY KEYS

  • Please use the Entry Key forms provided in your Google folder. 
  • Here is an example of a blank entry key for the Writing/Photo contest: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HiCKYR3LNoWfflzK0rmSBRoHVULsuA_e3g6l069PmxU/edit 
  • It is essential that all entry keys are turned in with full and complete information on the authors of the work – names will not be allowed to be added after the winners have been revealed.
  • If you have an entry with multiple authors, keep the list of names at five or fewer. For entries with more than five names, use “Staff.”
  • Include your organization’s name as you would like it to appear on a winner’s plaque or in a news story (for example, The New York Times rather than just New York Times).
  • Again, please be thorough. Once results have been published, changes need to be made on at least five platforms, including the awards banquet program and for any plaques or certificates.
  • Create cover letters for categories that need them. Place these in the “Cover Letters” subfolder inside your Google folder. A link with instructions on how to do cover letter will be published and provided here in the coming days.
  • Copy the cover letter links and paste them in the correct place on your entry form.
  • Double-check everything. Is all the information on your entry key correct (authors, headlines, etc.)? Do your links all work? Is your contest username/password valid? Are your cover letters there and have their advanced options been changed so judges can read them?
  • Change the “Status of Entry” at the top of the page to “Completed”
  • Notify Jorge that your entry is completed and ready to go.

COVER LETTERS

  • Cover Letters will be accepted for these contests: Breaking News, Beat Writing and Investigative
  • Cover Letters are not allowed for these contests: Column Writing, Long Feature Writing, Short Feature Writing, Explanatory, Event Coverage or Projects.
  • Cover letters do not have a specific format but should be no longer than three paragraphs (and less than a page). However, they may only include what is not apparent in the content itself. Judges will disregard all other cover letter content (for example: please refrain from sales pitches, cheerleading, and general commentary about the entrant)
  • For Beat Writing specifically, the cover letter should but does not have to describe the writer’s beat description → is the writer on that beat every day, or occasionally, such as Triple Crown and big national races, tennis slams, golf majors, etc. Judges can weigh this factor so that entries from writers who cover a beat every day are not at a disadvantage.
  • Beat Writing cover letter must include an explanation if the breaking news entry has more than one byline.

COVER LETTER TEMPLATE

  • News organization: 
  • Contest: 
  • Author: 
  • What a judge needs to know about this entry that’s not apparent from reading the material. For example: The time peg for when a story is published might be significant, the rarity of getting a particular source, how it tied into a broader or more narrow trending issue at the time.
  • What NOT to include: an overview of the writer’s skills, or year of work as a whole, cheerleading opinion, audience/page traffic.

SECTION MANDATORIES

All sections are from 2021. The mandatory dates are:

  • SUNDAY: Jan. 10 and July 18.
    • NEW: “Weekend editions” that are published on Friday or Saturday are permitted as entries.
  • DAILY: One paper chosen from the week of Jan. 25-30 and one paper selected from the week of Sept. 27-Oct. 2 (only Monday through Saturday are eligible).

SECTION CONTEST ENTRIES

  • Daily section entries must contain four issues: Two mandatory dates and two optional dates.
  • Sunday section entries must contain four issues: Two mandatory dates and two optional dates. This year, publications that do not have Sunday sections may enter a weekend section that publishes on Friday or Saturday. For papers that do not have Sunday sections, they must enter the section preceding the mandatory dates (either a Friday or Saturday edition).
  • Optional day entries may include: self-contained sports sections, sports-related A1 material and special sections that include live (or yesterday) content and regular-scheduled preview, or just live content.
  • Stand-alone special preview (season and major event) sections are not allowed for optional-day entries. Special sections that are not live may not be entered with optional entries. The preponderance of material in a special section must be live for it to be included.
  • On mandatory dates, papers enter all sports-related content, including special sections and material from other sections of the paper – for instance, an A1 takeout or news story would be included.
  • Sections Entry Keys (in your Google folder) must be submitted by PDF. Catchers will be assigned to each section division to make sure Entry Keys are completed correctly. Here’s a tutorial that can help send sections by PDF: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nlByuENCpKKLGhdzt1ndoKmrZhc1GCobaK9DKGJDCoU/edit
  • Deadline to submit Sections Entry Key is Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 11:59 p.m.
  • Judges will select – but not rank – the top 10 sections in each circulation category and will select as many as 10 honorable mentions. The number of ranked sections can be smaller than 10 if there isn’t a sufficient number of entries to justify a top 10.
  • The best sections offer coverage, news, features and opinion, supported by scores, results and standings of the day’s activities as needed to reflect the interest of the readership. There should be an appeal to the fanatic as well as the casual fan – and an attempt to satisfy a range of readership diversity. Judges should look closely at a couple areas of content:
    • Subject matter: Determine the quality of staff-written material. Space should be used wisely. Big-event coverage should be coordinated to avoid overlap. News should be played properly, and judges should look at reaction to breaking news. Where there are few professional teams, judges should look for strong treatment of college, high school and other local results. Even where there are no professional teams, there should be coverage of such national stories as the Super Bowl, World Series, etc. Game coverage should have strong analytical and commentary components. Judges should look at the agate package – are there scores, statistics, standings and box scores to fit the needs of the readership within the confines of available space? Examples: Does a paper with interest in pro teams run enough information in home team box scores? Does a paper in a prep-dominated area run enough names and statistical leaders?
    • Enterprise: Judges must note if there is an effort to bring something extra. Does the section offer features, trend pieces, scoops, innovative standing features or reader nuggets? Do efforts show originality and a high level of reporting and writing? Is there an effort to entertain as well as inform? Are there light touches? Is there over-reliance on wires? Reliance on wires is OK on some days, but not as a steady diet.
  • Publications in the C and D divisions may submit only one special section. This includes one-subject or one-theme sections issued one time. The special sections category has been eliminated in the A and B divisions.
    • What’s not eligible: Special sections sold only as stand-alone products on newsstands or elsewhere are not eligible. The special section must have been part of the regular newspaper run. For example: Commemorative to mark the success of a team, a sports event (like Olympics) or the death of a major personality; a theme section on running, fishing, hunting, auto racing, etc. The section may contain live news (stories in which a team wins a championship) related to the theme, but it may not include unrelated articles.
  • How are special sections judged? Does the section have spunk? Does it have impact with big events? Does it grab? Is it distinctive? Does it have imagination and originality? Photos and graphics: Is there a coordinated presentation of pictures, graphics and articles that give a grasp of the big stories? Does it make sense? Is it attractive? Does it help the reader understand? Does it illustrate? Judges may consider color reproduction. Writing/content: Is it well written, well edited and truly special? Is the content useful, informative and/or entertaining?

WRITING/PHOTO ENTRIES

  • Writing and photo entries will all be submitted as website links. These will all go on a single contest entry key. One will be provided in your Google folder, titled “Entry key.” If it is not there, or somehow gets lost, contact Jorge and he can provide you with a new one.
  • Here’s how to fill out your APSE contest entry key:
    • Change the status at the top to “In Progress” while you are filling it out. This is to ensure nobody else grabs it before it is completed.
    • Fill out the top fields:
  • Name of Organization (Please provide complete name, as you would like it to appear on a winner’s plaque and in stories about the winners. Example: The New York Times, rather than just New York Times).
  • Daily circulation (this number should be the same one you provided us when you paid your 2021 dues).
  • A contest username and password for your website, if it is needed (valid through at least March 31, 2022)
  • Completely fill out each writing category. Some of this information might seem redundant, but keep in mind that these entries will be copied and pasted different places, so it is important to include everything.
    • The name of your organization
    • A contest username and password for your website, if needed.
    • The name of the reporter or reporters credited with the story or group of stories. Please note, if more than five reporters worked on an entry, please say “staff.”
    • The link to the cover letter, when needed.
    • The headline on the story.
    • The link to the story.
  • Note: For categories with multiple stories/videos, everything listed above is the same, there are just spaces for multiple entries.
  • Double-check your entry key. Everything is filled out correctly? All the links to your website work? All your usernames and passwords are valid? All the links to cover letters are working and the advanced options have been changed so judges can read them?
  • If so, you are done. Notify Jorge that your entry is ready by using the APSE contest email. Put the name of the news organization plus ENTRY COMPLETE in the subject line. Make this a fresh, new email, and not part of a chain of any earlier correspondence.
  • Include a copy of your ENTRY KEY as an attachment. This is as a backup to your google drive.
  • Preliminary judges will select the top 10 stories in each group as finalists. (As with sections, a category that does not have a sufficient number of entries can be reduced to Top 5.) Each judge, separately and on a secret ballot, will list the stories in order from 1 to 10, with 1 being the best story. The final 10 will be given to a second judging group, which also will rank the stories 1-10 in the same fashion as the first group. The final judges’ ballots and the final 10 stories will be turned into the contest chair. The chair will tally all the votes awarding points in reverse order (No. 1 story gets 10 points, No. 2 gets 9, etc.). It is the responsibility of the entering news organization, based on the judging guidelines, to select the proper division in which an entry should be placed.
  • For articles that appeared in the newspaper as columns but are entered in Game Stories, Long and Short Features or Breaking News, the judging group will have disqualification authority.
  • If you still have questions, email Jorge. 

Here is an example of a completed story entry:

BREAKING NEWS 1
ORGANIZATION: The Athletic
WEBSITE USER

NAME (IF NEEDED): Athletic Judge
WEBSITE PASSWORD (IF NEEDED): TheAthletic
REPORTER(S): Nicole Auerbach
LINK TO COVER LETTER: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1J30P5XayV772-znX1Mr3bYtslVRn58lokwO_mo-gchM/edit
HEADLINE ON STORY: ‘We don’t need to wait another six years’: College football leaders ready to discuss eight-team Playoff
STORY LINK: https://theathletic.com/708538/2018/12/12/college-football-playoff-expansion-eight-team-support/

Here is an example of an entry that includes multiple elements:

BEAT WRITING 1
ORGANIZATION: The Athletic
WEBSITE USERNAME (IF NEEDED): Athletic Judge
WEBSITE PASSWORD (IF NEEDED): TheAthletic
REPORTER: Jon Krawczynski
LINK TO COVER LETTER: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OlaSCtqvkkozp8e3s3KBWM_zBNEq_SF8pIS2hgIkeaM/edit
*** HEADLINE ON STORY 1 (BREAKING NEWS): Sources: Jimmy Butler requests trade from Timberwolves
STORY LINK: https://theathletic.com/534624/2018/09/19/sources-jimmy-butler-requests-trade-from-timberwolves/
*** HEADLINE ON STORY 2 (GAME DAY COVERAGE): Ricky Rubio walks into Target Center and blows a hole in the Wolves’ defense
STORY LINK: https://theathletic.com/297,175/2018/04/02/ricky-rubio-jazz-rout-timberwolves-tom-thibodeau-quin-snyder-jeff-teague-jimmy-butler/
*** HEADLINE ON STORY 3 (ENTERPRISE): The happy reunion and fast divorce of Jimmy Butler and Tom Thibodeau
STORY LINK: https://theathletic.com/536185/2018/09/21/jimmy-butler-tom-thibodeau-timberwolves-reunion-divorce-glen-taylor/
*** HEADLINE ON STORY 4 (WILDCARD): Exclusive: Kevin Garnett on the Jimmy Butler saga — ‘It’s a shit storm up there’
STORY LINK: https://theathletic.com/585706/2018/10/12/kevin-garnett-jimmy-butler-timberwolves-drama-its-a-shit-storm-up-there/
*** LINK TO ENTRY 5 (WILDCARD):
MULTIMEDIA LINK: https://www.spreaker.com/user/talknorth/you-betcha-154 

WRITING CATEGORIES

Breaking News

  • Three entries per organization; one article per entry; cover letter accepted.
  • Coverage of a sports news development (trades, hirings, firings, franchise shifts, etc.) that occurred in the most recent news cycle. No supplemental materials are allowed. Reporter(s) need not have broken the story, but judges can factor that in.
  • Online or print stories can be submitted.
  • A cover letter should explain:
    • Who from your organization broke the story
    • When the news was obtained relative to publication
    • What a judge needs to know about this entry that’s not apparent from reading the material

Explanatory

  • Two entries per organization; one article per entry; no cover letters.
  • Article along with any accompanying sidebars or graphics/charts that help supplement the story.
  • Sidebars will not be required reading by the judges. They will be included to answer judges’ questions concerning why material may be missing from the single-story entry.
  • NOTE: If you include optional sidebar material, place it as a link on your entry key. Label it “Optional Material.”
  • Explanatory stories include trends, issues, original ideas and it should explain something. They shed new light on issues and personalities in the news. They are more than the feature and less than the project entry. They go beyond the “yesterday” of the breaking news story.

Game Stories (Class C AND D ONLY)

  • Two entries per organization; one article per entry.
  • The best single article by a single author. No series. No sidebars. No cover letters.
  • Judging will be on reader interest, and quality of writing and thoroughness of reporting.

Beat Writing

  • Two entries per organization; five articles per entry; cover letter accepted.
  • Collection of articles by a single author (can be more than one on the Breaking News entry only) that shows authoritative, newsy and innovative coverage of a beat.
  • Each entry should consist of five pieces: 
    • at least one breaking news story (it can be coverage of breaking news, but judges are allowed to give more weight to beat writers who were first with the news)
    • one event or game coverage story (this can include a column or sidebar)v
    • one enterprise piece
    • two wild-card entries, from any of the aforementioned categories or other stories or analysis related to the beat
    • Multimedia as one or both wild cards is OPTIONAL
  • Multimedia is defined as a website post with the author’s (or authors’) name on it that includes:
    • Anything interactive (stay or go, football picks, report cards, etc., and charts)
    • Charts that further explain something in the story, or more clearly show something written about in the story
    • Video that the writer shoots and publishes (rather than just a video embedded in a story)
    • Newsletter authored by the entrant
    • Blogs and podcasts are not eligible for the Multimedia entry in Beat Writing
  • Beat Writing cover letter must include an explanation if the breaking news entry has more than one byline.
    • Beat writing can have more than one byline in the Breaking News entry only, provided that the breaking news happens on that writer’s beat, the story is written primarily by the entrant, and it is explained in the cover letter. For example, if the Chicago Bears writer enters in beat writing, he or she cannot include a breaking news item on a local high school story where the Bears beat writer shares the byline.
  • Entries should include a cover letter with a synopsis of how the combined submissions demonstrate excellence on the beat. The cover letter should note other metrics that show authority and audience engagement on the beat. The letter should be kept to one page.
  • This is the only writing category where stories can be entered for a second time — the five articles that make up the entry can (but do not have to) be also entered in other categories (for instance, a breaking news story can be entered in Breaking News and also as part of the Beat Writing entry). A single article entered in Projects (one of the up to 10 components submitted) is permitted.

Long Feature Writing

  • Two entries per organization; one article per entry; no cover letters.
  • Article along with any accompanying sidebars or graphics/charts that help supplement the story.
  • Sidebars will not be required reading by the judges. They will be included to answer judges’ questions concerning why material may be missing from the single-story entry.
  • NOTE: If you include optional sidebar material, place it as a link on your entry key. Label it “Optional Material.”
  • These longer-form stories are larger in scope. The sourcing, visual information (charts, lists, etc. that further support the reporting) and depth of reporting are expansive.
  • Entries are more than 1,500 words in A and B categories and more than 1,150 words in C and D divisions.

Short Feature Writing 

  • These are feature stories that do not exceed an established word limit (see below) so that they can compete with similar-length stories in the same division.
  • Two entries per organization; one article per entry; no cover letters.
  • Single article for each entry. No sidebars.
  • Judging will be on human interest, reader interest, quality of writing and thoroughness of reporting.
  • Short feature stories fall into these length assignments:
    • Divisions A and B — Stories 1,500 words or less qualify for Short Feature Writing but can be entered in Long Feature Writing by the editor.
    • Divisions C and D — Stories 1,150 words or less qualify for Short Feature Writing but can be entered in Long Feature Writing by the editor.
    • Entries in A, B, C and D that exceed the above length limits cannot be entered in Short Feature Writing and could be disqualified if entered incorrectly.
    • If a story is entered in Short Feature Writing but is too long to qualify, it can be re-entered in Long Feature Writing or replaced by a different story entry ONLY if the change is made by the Jan. 18 Entry Key deadline.
    • How a judge will determine whether a story that seems like it may be too long exceeds the assigned word limit:
      • Copy the story onto a Google Doc
      • Carefully edit out captions, headlines, subhead, decks, advertisements, related links language, pull quotes, and any other content that is not the actual story. The byline DOES NOT COUNT toward the word length.

Columns

  • Two entries per organization; four articles per entry; no cover letters.
  • Judged based on style, writing quality, originality and local appeal.
  • No restriction on subject matter and no requirement that they appear regularly.

Event Coverage (NEW CATEGORY)

  • One entry per organization; 1-5 articles per entry; no cover letters.
  • Up to five examples of event coverage in a live one-day cycle. A 24-hour period beginning with the event (first story published) – no Super Bowl or other preview material, please – will be considered by the judges. It also cannot be Final Four weekend coverage. In that case, either coverage of the semifinals or the championship would be eligible to be submitted. In this category, a prominent death is considered an event. If there is a pre-written obit, it can be entered as part of the coverage as long as it also contains live coverage/reaction in it. Entries may consist of content that appeared in print or digital formats.
  • Article along with any accompanying sidebars or graphics/charts that help supplement the story.
  • Sidebars will not be required reading by the judges. They will be included to answer judges’ questions concerning why material may be missing from the single-story entry.
  • NOTE: If you include optional sidebar material, place it as a link on your entry key. Label it “Optional Material.”
  • Anything goes. Entries can range from breaking news stories to videos to photo galleries to Q&As. A live special section may be entered as a PDF as “Optional Material” (as long as it isn’t entered in any other category), but it is advised to submit the best five elements of the section individually as judges are not required to consider optional material. These should be your best selections of coverage within 24 hours of your first story published on a big happening for your readers. Coverage of Muhammad Ali’s death, which might include a column, a news story, a chart of all his fights etc., qualifies as event coverage.  A live, one-story obit is more likely breaking news. You cannot enter the same article in Event Coverage and any other writing category. With the exception of Beat Writing, no article may be entered in more than one writing category.

Projects (WITH SPECIAL SECTION MATERIAL ALLOWED AS AN ENTRY OPTION)

  • One entry per organization; 1-10 articles per entry; no cover letters.
  • A project sheds new light on personalities and issues in the news, including trends and original ideas. It is pre-planned content that is conceived and executed as a larger body of work. It is not ongoing coverage of a news event over a period of time in which a number of stories are compiled for an entry.
  • This year, special section material can be entered in Projects in all divisions. The entire special section may be included as a PDF as “Optional Material,” but it is advised to submit the best elements of the section individually among the 10 entries (with links) as judges are not required to consider optional material.
  • For judging purposes, the project is limited to 10 stories. Links to additional material may be attached and read at the judges’ discretion.
  • Multimedia can be entered as a project to allow the full scope of the project to be judged. This should be done by providing a link or links on your entry key. Like other entries, it must include information on which authors worked on the entry.
  • —NOTABLE—
  • You CANNOT enter the same work in both Projects and Special Sections, or include any part of the Projects entry (including optional material) in any other writing category — with the exception of one story in the Beat Writing category. You have to choose. For example, you can’t take a sidebar from your project entry and enter it in Short Feature and two more pieces of an entered project and enter them in Explanatory.
  • Material entered in Special Sections in C and D cannot also be entered in Projects or Event Coverage (though individual stories and multimedia from the Special Sections entry can be entered in other writing and digital categories).
  • Discovery of the same material entered under Projects and any other writing category (with the exception one story in Beat Writing) will result in both entries being disqualified.

Investigative

  • One entry per organization; 1 to 10 articles per entry; cover letter accepted. (There are no circulation categories in Investigative. All entries are judged across all categories.)
  • Best single article or best series.
  • Judging will be based on the entry’s enterprise, initiative, documentation, resourcefulness and original reporting in uncovering newsworthy and significant facts and developments that otherwise might not have been reported. Impact and aftermath of the work should be considered.
  • Investigative work should rely on reporting of facts discovered or uncovered by the author rather than reports from anonymous sources offering unverified statements.
  • Investigative entries must not include articles for which payments were made for information. Pure and truly significant investigative reporting is rare. Relying solely on quotes from an FBI source does not make a story investigative. Doing the work the FBI would do in order to build a story might be investigative.
  • NOTE: A maximum of 10 articles can be submitted as part of the official entry. You may submit more articles as supplementary material if you choose. The judges may read the supplementary material but are not required to. If you include supplementary material, place it as a link on your entry key. Label it “Supplementary Material.”

Action Photos

  • Two entries per organization; one photo per entry.
  • The best single action photo.
  • No cover letters.
  • Judging will be on quality of photo.
  • A photographer can only be entered in this category once.
  • No galleries allowed. You must “snip” the individual photo and provide a link.

Feature Photos

  • Two entries per organization; one photo per entry.
  • The best single sports feature photo.
  • No cover letters.
  • Judging will be on quality of photo.
  • A photographer can only be entered in this category once.
  • No galleries allowed. You must “snip” the individual photo entry and provide a link.

DIGITAL CONTEST

  • One entry per publication; five components per entry; no cover letters.
  • A Top 10 in Digital is now a requisite for the Triple Crown and Grand Slam, so your publication must enter this contest if you aspire to win a Triple Crown/Grand Slam.
  • Contest is broken down into publishing examples (a recommended 85 percent weight in scoring) and live judging over the website (a recommended 15 percent).
  • Any story that is entered in a writing category IS ELIGIBLE to be entered as one of the five “publishing examples” in the Digital Contest.

Publishing examples might include but are not limited to:

Individual story: Example of a story that is particularly effective online because it ties together multiple elements that play particularly well for a mobile or online audience. So the story and the art are the furniture — graphics, interactive elements, video, podcasting that’s tied to the subject matter of the story, details boxes, pull quotes that enhance the reader experience are the emphasis for this score 

Multimedia: This should be unique digital content that tells a story (reporter stand-ups and press conference/locker room stall newsmakers can be included but would score lower here), a series of charts/lists/graphics that tell a story, game film reviews with original reporting, podcasting.

Video: Video should have been done by the organization’s editorial department. If an organization is affiliated with a TV station, it must be the website and not the TV station that produced the video. Video produced by television stations is not allowed.

Entries will be judged, foremost, on the strength of storytelling. Visual and auditory quality will be considered.

In instances where the video entry supplemented a written story, the story itself may be submitted for background purposes and can be read at the judges’ discretion. The written story will not be a part of the material judged. NOTE: If you include supplementary story material, place it as a link on your entry key. Label it “Supplementary Material.”

Videos that are embedded in explanatory or feature stories are eligible for this contest.

Other entry possibilities include:

• A Facebook post that shows the site’s ability to promote its content with strong visuals and effective social media writing

• A staff-written, edited and published newsletter (automated newsletters do not count here)

• An Instagram story

• A Reddit AMA

• A creative podcast

• A live blog (at your own risk)

There will also be live judging of websites. Here are some things to consider:

• Design of the site and story turnover is discounted because sports editors often have no control over these jobs. 

• Freshness of content, the navigability of the site (how easy can a reader find what he or she is looking for), quality of content emphasis and mix.

• Something that stands out: Did the site offer a variety of elements such as photo galleries, videos, graphics in addition to stories? 

Judges will give bonus points for unique digital content: Examples include story forms like spill-down galleries; interactives (for example: Stay or Go). Something that says what this site does and can accomplish at its most creative. In addition, they will look for audience engagement. A website should be promoting its content by encouraging the reader to interact with the site and/or its editors and/or reporters.

(Links to folders/entry keys are below.)

NEWSPAPER AND WEBSITE CATEGORIES

DIVISION A

DIVISION B

DIVISION C

DIVISION D