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Sections & Categories

We've adjusted our contest this year based on feedback from journalists and data about entries from prior years. These changes were made by a committee of SPJ Western Washington and SPJ Oregon board members in consultation with publications around our region. 

As a reminder, newsrooms of any medium can submit to any section. For example, TV journalists don’t need to solely submit their work to the video section. If you have a piece with multiple elements, like a written article accompanied by an audio piece, then submitting it to the Writing section means judges will only judge the written article. If you submit it to the Audio section, then judges will only judge the audio piece. If you want the piece judged as a whole with all elements taken into consideration, the Multimedia category might be the best fit. Please note that newsroom size designations differ in the audio and video sections.

The contest rules page covers newsroom sizes and many other questions you may have.

Some topical categories will allow submissions of up to three written pieces as part of one story to allow reporters to include follow-up coverage, sidebars, etc.

WRITING SECTION

Size divisions:

Small: 12 or fewer FTE newsroom employees 
Medium: Between 13 and 35 FTE newsroom employees
Large: 36 or more FTE newsroom employees

Categories:

General Excellence:  A complete publication from March 1, 2020 (or the closest to that date) and a date of your choice from the contest year. Please note that the submission fee for General Excellence is $50.

Arts & Culture Reporting: Coverage of any one news story about people, culture, trends, issues or events related to art, traditions, music, film, religion, or other lifestyle content. May submit up to three pieces, such as a main article and sidebar, or an initial story and follow-up coverage.

Breaking News: Coverage of any one breaking news story published on deadline and/or as it occurs. May submit up to three pieces, such as a main article and sidebar.

Column: Excellence in writing, reporting, story and development in a regular column written by the same person over time. Must provide three columns. NOTE: There are no newsroom-size designations for this category.

Comprehensive Pandemic Coverage: A newsroom's continued coverage of the coronavirus pandemic published over time. Up to five pieces, such as articles, sidebars, and visuals can be submitted. A series on one individual story should be submitted in the series category, not in comprehensive pandemic coverage.

Crime & Law Enforcement Reporting: Coverage of any one news story about people, trends, issues or events related to courts, crime or other facets of the criminal justice system. May submit up to three pieces, such as a main article and sidebar, or an initial story and follow-up coverage.

Editorial & Commentary: A commentary or personal essay by one author or editorial board that demonstrates critical commentary or group editorial work. Can submit up to three related pieces.

Education Reporting: Coverage of any one news story about people, trends, issues or events related to education. May submit up to three pieces, such as a main article and sidebar, or an initial story and follow-up coverage.

Environment & Natural Disaster Reporting: Coverage of any one news story about people, trends, issues or events related to the environment or natural disasters. May submit up to three pieces, such as a main article and sidebar, or an initial story and follow-up coverage.

Feature, Hard News: Excellence in writing, reporting, story and development in one feature related to a traditionally hard news subject, like public policy, criminal justice or business. Only one piece should be submitted in this category.

Feature, Soft News: Excellence in writing, reporting, story and development in one feature related to a traditionally soft news subject, like art or lifestyles. Only one piece should be submitted in this category.

Government & Politics Reporting: Coverage of any one news story about people, trends, issues or events related to government affairs or public policy. May submit up to three pieces, such as a main article and sidebar, or an initial story and follow-up coverage.

Health & Science Reporting: Coverage of any one news story about people, trends, issues or events related health or the scientific world. May submit up to three pieces, such as a main article and sidebar, or an initial story and follow-up coverage.

Investigative Reporting:  A single in-depth article that investigates a problem as it relates to a single topic, issue, person or group of people. Submissions should include no more than five pieces, such as an article, follow-up coverage or sidebars.

Poverty & Homelessness Reporting: Coverage of any one news story about people, trends, issues or events related to poverty or homelessness. May submit up to three pieces, such as a main article and sidebar, or an initial story and follow-up coverage. 

Series: Excellence in writing, reporting, story and development of one story told over time. Submissions should include no more than five pieces, such as an article, follow-up coverage or sidebars. If your series is longer than five pieces, including sidebars or other accompaniments, select the strongest collection of material. Multi-year series should be submitted according to the year that they concluded. Multi-year series should be submitted according to the year that they concluded.

Social Equity Reporting: Coverage of any one news story that addresses social inequities related to people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, refugees and other underrepresented people. Up to three pieces can be submitted in this category, such as an article with a sidebar, or a story with follow-up coverage.

Sports Column: Excellence in writing, reporting, story and development in a regular sports column written by the same person over time. Must provide three columns.

Sports Feature: Coverage of any one feature story about people, trends, issues or events related to sports. May submit up to three pieces, such as a main article and sidebar, or an initial story and follow-up coverage.

Sports Reporting: Coverage of any one news story about people, trends, issues or events related to sports. May submit up to three pieces, such as a main article and sidebar, or an initial story and follow-up coverage.

Technology, Business & Economics Reporting: Coverage of any one news story about people, trends, issues or events related to technology, companies, financial markets or consumer reporting. May submit up to three pieces, such as a main article and sidebar, or an initial story and follow-up coverage.

 

MAGAZINE SECTION

Magazines or publications published on a semi-monthly basis or less frequently should submit articles to the magazine category, to reflect the unique deadline, style and service provided by these publications.

Categories:

Arts & Culture: A single piece about culture, trends, issues or events related to art, traditions, music, film, religion, or other lifestyle content. 

Environment & Natural Disasters: A single piece about people, trends, issues or events related to the environment or natural disasters.

Food & Restaurants: A single piece about food, restaurants or their connected industries.

Health & Science: A single piece about people, trends, issues or events associated with health or the scientific world.

Investigative Reporting: A single in-depth article that investigates a problem as it relates to a single topic, issue, person or group of people.

Magazine Print Page Design: Submit up to three examples of print page design. These can be published on different days and reflect different sections of the magazine.

Personal Profile: A single piece profiling an individual or group.

Technology, Business & Economics: A single piece covering trends, people or issues in technology, business, financial markets or consumer reporting.

 

PHOTO & DESIGN SECTION

Size divisions:

Small: 12 or fewer FTE newsroom employees 
Medium: Between 13 and 35 FTE newsroom employees
Large: 36 or more FTE newsroom employees

Note: Magazine designs should be submitted into the Magazine section. Magazine photos should be submitted into the Photo & Design section.

Feature Photography: One candid photo that reflects a person, trend, issue, or event beyond basic news.

General News Photography: One photo of a planned news event.

Graphics & Illustrations: Submit up to three examples of original graphics or illustrations.

Photo Essay: A collection of six to 12 images that explores a common theme or story. Please note that our entry form only allows for five unique submissions, so please submit your work in a PDF or online photo gallery.

Photo Portfolio: A selection of up to 20 images from any one photojournalist. Please submit up to 10 images from one series or project, and up to 10 single images. Please note that our entry form only allows for five unique submissions, so please submit your work in a PDF or online photo gallery.

Portrait Photography: One photo that captures a human subject.

Print Page Design: Submit up to three examples of print page design. These can be published on different days and reflect different sections of the newspaper. NOTE: Magazines can submit their designs into the Magazine section under the category called Magazine Print Page Design.

Sports Action Photography: One photo of a sports figure, trend, issue, or event in action.

Spot News Photography: One photo of an unplanned breaking news event.

 

AUDIO SECTION

Size divisions:

Small: 25 or fewer FTE newsroom employees
Large: 26 or more FTE newsroom employees

Categories:

Audio Series: A selection of podcasts or audio stories featuring continued reporting on one subject. Submit no more than 30 minutes of audio. If the project is longer than 30 minutes, select pieces that reflect the best of the series. Multi-year series should be submitted according to the year that they concluded.

Comprehensive Pandemic Coverage: Podcasts or audio stories that are part of a newsroom's continued coverage of the coronavirus pandemic published over time. Up to five segments can be submitted. Submit no more than 30 minutes of audio.

Crime & Law Enforcement Reporting: A single podcast or audio story related to courts, crime or other facets of the criminal justice system.

Environment & Natural Disaster Reporting: A single podcast or audio story about the environment or natural disasters.

Feature, Hard News: A single podcast or audio story about a traditionally hard news subject, like public policy, criminal justice or business.

Feature, Soft News: A single podcast or audio story about a traditionally soft news subject, like art, entertainment or lifestyles.

Government & Politics Reporting: A single podcast or audio story about government affairs or public policy.

Health & Science Reporting: A single podcast or audio story about health or science.

Investigative Reporting: A selection of podcasts or audio stories featuring in-depth, investigative reporting on one subject. Submit no more than 30 minutes of audio. If the project is longer than 30 minutes, select pieces that reflect the best of the investigation.

Social Equity Reporting: A single podcast or audio story that addresses social inequities related to people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, refugees and other underrepresented people. 

 

VIDEO SECTION

Size divisions:

Small: 25 or fewer FTE newsroom employees
Large: 26 or more FTE newsroom employees

Categories:

Comprehensive Pandemic Coverage: Videos or television segments that are part of a newsroom's continued coverage of the coronavirus pandemic published over time. Up to five segments can be submitted. Submit no more than 30 minutes of video.

Feature, Hard News: A single video or television segment reporting a feature connected to a hard news subject, such as public policy, business or criminal justice.

Feature, Soft News: A single video or television segment reporting a feature connected to a soft news subject, like arts, entertainment or lifestyles.

General Assignment —  No Time Limit: A single video or television segment on general news reporting that is not breaking news.

General Assignment — Within 24 Hours: A single video or television segment on general news reporting published on a fast turnaround. Breaking news stories should be submitted here.

Investigative Reporting: In-depth reporting on a single topic, issue, or person that identifies a problem. Submit no more than 30 minutes of video. If the project is longer than 30 minutes, select pieces that reflect the best of the investigation.

Video Series: A multi-part video or television series that explores a common theme or story. Submit no more than 30 minutes of video. If the project is longer than 30 minutes, select pieces that reflect the best of the series. Multi-year series should be submitted according to the year that they concluded.

Sports: A single video or television segment on sports reporting.

 

MISCELLANEOUS 

Multimedia Storytelling: Submit an example of a story or stories on one subject that reflects a commitment to multimedia storytelling. This can include videos, podcasts, interactive web graphics, a live event or other components. Please submit no more than five examples. NOTE: The newsroom size designations from the Writing Section apply to this category.

Collaboration: A multi-part series or collection of stories between two or more newsrooms that explores a common theme or story. These newsrooms could be under the same owner. Submissions should include between three and five pieces, such as an article, audio segments, videos or sidebars. If the project inclosed more than five pieces, including sidebars or other accompaniments, select the strongest collection of material. NOTE: There are no newsroom-size designations for this category. Multi-year series should be submitted according to the year that they concluded.