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Thank you for your interest in entering the 2021 Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest. This competition is one of the largest of its kind in the nation and honors journalists across SPJ Region 10, which covers Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.

We've updated our categories this year and added new eligibility guidelines based on feedback from our members. Please read the rules carefully determine how these changes may affect you and your newsroom.


All entries must be published or broadcast in 2021.

Entries must be from a journalist based in Region 10 about issues related to our geographical area. The relation can be broad, and this rule is not intended to exclude solutions reporting that examines how a problem in our region is being addressed in another location.

A publication need not be based in Region 10 so long as the above criteria are met. We welcome submissions from reporters based in and covering the Northwest for national publications, wire services or as freelancers.

A journalist who has since moved outside Region 10 may submit work that met the criteria at the time of publication.

Work submitted must be published by an entity whose primary purpose is the gathering and dissemination of news and not a foundation, advocacy or research organization. This rule does not exclude work published by a news organization that is grant-funded, or reporting that is grant-funded.

Recognizing the many excellent awards available for student journalists, we do not have student-specific divisions in this contest. However, student journalists are welcome to submit their work for consideration in the appropriate size division.


The contest deadline is Feb. 24, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. Winners will be announced in May by the Western Washington and the Greater Oregon Pro chapters.


$20 per entry for SPJ members (at least one journalist credited on the submission must be a member, or the submitting newsroom must be a newsroom member)

$25 per entry for non-SPJ members

In the event a category does not receive enough entries to be competitive, entrants will be given the option of having the work judged as part of a larger division or receiving a refund.

All proceeds from this contest support the efforts of SPJ Western Washington Professional and SPJ Oregon Territory Chapters. In Washington, contest proceeds fund scholarships for student journalists. In Oregon, proceeds help pay for our lobbyist, who works on our behalf in Salem to improve public records law.

Newsroom Size Divisions

More than ever, journalists are working in teams and across platforms. Entries should be submitted based on the type of work being judged, not the publisher's platform. Newspaper video documentaries will be judged in the audio/video division, and written articles by broadcasters in the writing division.

Full-time equivalent newsroom employees includes anyone contributing to the news operations of a publication of outlet: reporters, editors, copy editors, news directors, designers, photographers, producers, digital producers, web designers, hosts, anchors, etc. Two part-time employees count as one full-time employee.

Work created in partnership with multiple news organizations should be submitted in the larger organization's division. You may submit in a larger size division than your newsroom size dictates.

We realize these guidelines may not cover every situation. If you're unsure about which size applies to you, get in touch.

For writing, photography, graphics and design entries:

Small: 1-5 FTE newsroom employees 

Medium: Between 6 and 20  FTE newsroom employees

Large: Between 21 and 45 FTE newsroom employees

X-Large: 46 plus FTE newsroom employees

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

For audio & video entries:

Small: 25 or fewer FTE newsroom employees

Large: 26 or more FTE newsroom employees

Frequently asked questions:

How do I find my SPJ identification number?

Log into the SPJ national website at spj.org/members.asp. They will be able to help you if you've forgotten your password.

How many entries can an individual submit?

There's no limit to the number of entries you may submit. Pay close attention to the category description for specific entry requirements. For example, when an entry specifies "one photo," that means one photo should be submitted per entry. 

How many categories can I enter?

There is no limit to the number of categories you may enter. You may submit the same entry in multiple different categories if it fits the description of each category. You must fill out an entry form for each entry that you provide. One piece/story/item may win in multiple categories in the contest.

Can an editor, publisher or administrative staff member submit entries for multiple entrants?

Yes. They can register as an entrant and then submit work on behalf of others.

I am a freelancer. When setting up my contest profile, what do I put for organization?

Specify the name of the organization for each specific entry. Please submit your work in the category that reflects the size of the staff of the organization for which you freelanced. Reach out to the organization if you do not know its staff size. Contest administrators may move or disqualify entries submitted in incorrect categories or size divisions.

I have an entry to submit that is located behind a paywall. Is this OK?

If you have an entry behind a paywall, you MUST provide a viable username and password so that judges can access it. Many news organizations create contest-specific usernames and passwords that can be shared with judges then canceled following the completion of award season. If you are unable to provide viable access to the entry, your entry will be disqualified.

What file types do you accept?

Our contest platform accepts a broad range of file types. However, we ask that you submit your work, where possible, as *.pdf, *.doc, *.jpg, .*png, *.mp3 or *.mp4 to ensure your material can be viewed by our judges.

My video files are too large. It won’t upload.

If your file or files are not available through your media organization's website, upload it to a site like Vimeo or YouTube and post the URL with your entry instead.

We look forward to seeing your excellent work!

Questions? Need help?

Terry Williams
Contest Manager