Contest categories

2017 Excellence in Journalism Contest for work done in 2016

Note to participants: On the whole, we were very pleased with the response to last year’s merger of all state and regional coverage into a single division. We did, however, come away believing that some of the most recognition-worthy journalism, that done exclusively or primarily online, may have been overlooked. So this year we are creating a new division, Online state/regional journalism. We also expanded our television division by adding two categories: best newscast and best public affairs program. For more info, scroll down to the division in question. 

DIVISION: ALL
Anyone, regardless of affiliation, is eligible to submit work to be considered for these awards.

COURAGE UNDER FIRE – In honor of the journalist or journalists who exhibited the most strength in defending the principles of a free press, open records, open meetings and transparent examination of public servants doing their jobs. We will allow people to nominate themselves, or nominate another person’s work.

JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR— For outstanding journalism in 2015. No need to apply for this honor separately. The winner will be chosen from among the first place winners in all other categories.

BEST MULTI-MEDIA PACKAGE – Honoring the best use of Web tools to illustrate a story, including use of art, interactive graphics, articles, video and stills, at least using two or more of each.

BEST PODCAST — Open to print, broadcast and online media. Best on-going series of audio podcasts. Winners will be judged on content, production values and creative use of the medium. Submit up to three examples, each no more than one hour in length.

BEST WEB VIDEO — Submit a video showing best use of web video to tell your story. Open to all contestants, whether affiliated with a big news organization or not.

CARTOONING — For best editorial cartoon; entries will be judged for clarity, originality and punch. Eligibility: must be a New Jersey cartoonist or the cartoon must be on a New Jersey topic.

DIVISION: LOCAL JOURNALISM
This division is for weekly local print newspapers and websites that cover localities. Eligible publications may cover a single town, a cluster of towns, a single county or adjacent counties.

LOCAL NEWS — Best coverage of a local news story. Story must be breaking news or fresh coverage of an event or issue of primary interest to an individual municipality or local area, produced under deadline pressure.

PUBLIC SERVICE — This award recognizes a news organization that renders a public service through extensive coverage of an issue facing the community it serves or society. Reporting may be conducted by one reporter or a team. Entries may be a single article or a series of no more than five parts. Commercially sponsored programs are ineligible unless controlled and produced by the news organization.

REVIEW WRITING — For a critical review of a play, movie, concert, record or CD, book, restaurant, art, car or other such subject. Judges will consider both the quality and persuasiveness of the writing and the piece’s usefulness to potential consumers.

SPORTS REPORTING — For an article displaying superior journalistic performance in covering sports.

STUART AND BEVERLEY AWBREY AWARD, FOR COMMUNITY-ORIENTED LOCAL JOURNALISM – The Awbrey Award is one of the most prestigious honors in Garden State journalism. Since its creation in the 1990s, this award has sought to honor both hard-hitting investigative journalism that is public spirited, as well as more “uplifting” efforts such as creating care packages for soldiers overseas, or helping a handicapped youngster get an education.

For example, last year’s winner Charles Kratovil of New Brunswick Today exposed irregularities in the New Brunswick water utility that showed that people could not rely on testing of the quality of its water. Other past winners include: Katherine Milsop of the Community News of Fairlawn, who wrote articles documenting a Saddle Brook family’s efforts to get help for their seriously epileptic son, sparking state and local action on his behalf; the late Bill George of the Perth Amboy Beacon, who helped force the construction of a new elementary school in Perth Amboy by relentlessly focusing news coverage on children who were being educated in temporary trailers: and Chris Sagona and Michael Bocchieri of Pascack Valley Community Life, who used their newspaper’s resources to sponsor a “Run for Life” to benefit for cancer research and to highlight the lives of community members affected by cancer.

Because the Awbrey requires detailed documentation, the deadline for this award is always a week after the regular contest deadlineIn addition to submitting a body of work, be it traditionally reported stories or a combination of stories, columns and editorials (in any medium)entrants must also provide a letter and other supplementary materials that demonstrate how that coverage helped improve the quality of public life in the community. That could include, for example, documentation about how coverage of an issue helped facilitate public dialogue or encourage citizen involvement.

Any corrections, clarifications or retractions made after initial publishing or broadcast must also be submitted as part of the entry. Also, copies of any written challenges to the report’s accuracy sent to the entrant or the news organization by or on behalf of those mentioned — including but not limited to letters, e-mails or legal papers — must be included with the entry. Any responses by the news organization should also be included.

The letter should be signed by the publisher, editor or other official from the news organization. It should contain title or description of the entry; name, address and phone number of the newspaper; and the name of the person submitting the entry and that person’s title.

If the letter and supplementary materials cannot be uploaded onto the BNC website, please contact us, and we will provide you with an address where they can be sent.

The Awbrey competition will be judged by the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists or a committee of the board.

TIM O’BRIEN AWARD FOR BEST USE OF OPEN PUBLIC RECORDS LAW — This award honors the best reporting that uses the N.J. Open Public Records Act to expose issues of public significance. The award is made jointly by the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government, a non-profit, non-partisan group that advocates for government transparency and free access to government information, and the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Among the judging criteria are: significance of the issues to the audience for which the reporting was done; impact of the reporting, if any; creativity and ingenuity shown in finding and using public records to document matters of public importance; persistence needed to overcome obstacles to release the records, if any; integrity and honesty in presenting results.

Entries are invited from all sources, including news organizations, individual journalists, community organizations or individuals. Entries may consist of individual stories or series of stories.

All entries should include a cover letter to provide useful context about the entry, such as significant obstacles encountered or impacts achieved. If the nomination is for a team effort, the cover letter should identify either the news organization involved or the team members primarily responsible for the entry.

Entries must have been printed, broadcast or posted during the calendar year of 2016 (a series of stories that started in 2015 but was not completed until 2016 is also eligible).

This award pays tribute to Tim O’Brien, whose investigative reporting, first at The Star-Ledger and later at The New Jersey Law Journal, exemplified the qualities of courage, thoroughness, integrity, persistence and quiet idealism that we seek to honor.

WILSON BARTO AWARD FOR “ROOKIES OF THE YEAR” (BEST FIRST-YEAR JOURNALISTS) — This award was established to recognize outstanding achievement by new reportersTo qualify, you must have begun working during 2016 or had your first-year anniversary of working in the newspaper field during 2016.

Interrupted careers should be computed so that the candidate completes a total of 12 months of full-time employment during 2016. Previous part-time and freelancing work does not count toward the computation unless they were substantially full-time.

Entries should consist of links to three (3) individual articles or a series of articles. A series must be so identified in the text. Multiple byline articles will not be eligible. Include place(s) of employment and dates in your entry, plus the anniversary date of your first year. To learn the background of this award, click here.

STATE OR REGIONAL NEWS — Best state or regional news coverage of a NJ-based state, regional or national event by a local weekly newspaper or local news website.

BUSINESS REPORTING — For an article displaying superior journalistic performance in covering business, finance, economics or consumer issues.

COMMENTARY — For a single editorial, column or essay, or series of related editorials, columns or essays, that takes a stand on an important local, state or national subject. The ability of the writer to present the facts fairly while marshaling a logical and persuasive argument will be a major consideration, along with brevity and wit.

ENTERPRISE/SERIES/INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING — For a multi-part series of articles labeled as such and appearing in two or more issues, or multiple articles in a single issue on the same topic. Entries must give readers an in-depth look at a significant topic. Judging will be on overall journalistic performance, including the ability to be comprehensive and fair while remaining accessible and compelling to readers.

FEATURE WRITING — For a well-written article dealing in an interesting and creative way with a subject that would not be considered breaking news. Stories will be judged on initiative, accuracy, completeness and writing quality.

PROFILE WRITING — For a well-written and well-researched article profiling an individual or organization.

HEADLINE WRITING — For five headlines that demonstrate the writer’s ability to capture the essence of a story accurately in a way that catches the attention of readers and leads them into the story. (Please submit headlines and stories.)

HEALTH, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTING — For an article displaying superior journalistic performance in covering health, science, technology or the environment.

PAGE ONE DESIGN — For the best Page One design, considering use of art, informative graphics, well-placed stories and general cohesiveness and appearance.

DIVISION: ONLINE STATE/REGIONAL JOURNALISM
This division is to honor state and/or regional coverage by online news media not connected with a traditional daily newspaper. Entrants may still enter the regular state/regional categories, in which they WOULD compete against traditional dailies, or they may choose to enter only in this grouping.

STATE OR REGIONAL NEWS —  Best state or regional News coverage of an NJ-based state, regional or national event, written under deadline pressure.

BUSINESS REPORTING — For an article displaying superior journalistic performance in covering business, finance, economics or consumer issues.

ENTERPRISE/SERIES/INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING — For a multi-part series of articles labeled as such. Entries must give readers an in-depth look at a significant topic. Judging will be on overall journalistic performance, including the ability to be comprehensive and fair while remaining accessible and compelling to readers.

FEATURE WRITING — For a well-written article dealing in an interesting and creative way with a subject that would not be considered “hard news.” It will be judged on initiative, accuracy, completeness and writing quality. This category includes profile stories.

PUBLIC SERVICE — This award recognizes a news organization that renders a public service through extensive coverage of an issue facing the community it serves or society. Reporting may be conducted by one reporter or a team. Entries may be a single or a series of no more than five parts. Commercially sponsored programs are ineligible unless controlled and produced by the news organization.

TIM O’BRIEN AWARD FOR THE BEST USE OF THE OPEN PUBLIC RECORDS LAW – This award honors the best reporting that uses the N.J. Open Public Records Act to expose issues of public significance. The award is made jointly by the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government, a non-profit, non-partisan group that advocates for government transparency and free access to government information, and the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Among the judging criteria are: significance of the issues to the audience for which the reporting was done; impact of the reporting, if any; creativity and ingenuity shown in finding and using public records to document matters of public importance; persistence needed to overcome obstacles to release the records, if any; integrity and honesty in presenting results.

Entries are invited from all sources, including news organizations, individual journalists, community organizations or individuals. Entries may consist of individual stories or series of stories.

All entries should include a cover letter to provide useful context about the entry, such as significant obstacles encountered or impacts achieved. If the nomination is for a team effort, the cover letter should identify either the news organization involved or the team members primarily responsible for the entry.

Entries must have been printed, broadcast or posted during the calendar year of 2015 (a series of stories that started in 2014 but was not completed until 2015 is also eligible).

This award pays tribute to Tim O’Brien, whose investigative reporting, first at The Star-Ledger and later at The New Jersey Law Journal, exemplified the qualities of courage, thoroughness, integrity, persistence and quiet idealism that we seek to honor.

WILSON BARTO “ROOKIE OF THE YEAR” AWARD FOR BEST FIRST-YEAR JOURNALISTS —This award was established to recognize outstanding achievement by new reportersTo qualify, you must have begun working during 2016 or had your first-year anniversary of working in the newspaper field during 2016.

DIVISION: STATE/REGIONAL JOURNALISM
This division is for daily print newspapers, statewide print weeklies and non-local websites

STATE OR REGIONAL NEWS — Best state or regional news coverage of a NJ-based state, regional or national event, written under deadline pressure.

BEST LOCAL NEWS — Best local news coverage of a story.

BUSINESS REPORTING — For an article displaying superior journalistic performance in covering business, finance, economics or consumer issues.

COLUMN WRITING — For a single bylined column taking an original stand on an interesting or important subject. The ability of the writer to simultaneously instruct, persuade and hold interest will be a major consideration. (Sports columns are eligible.)

EDITORIALS — For a single editorial or a series of related editorials, that takes a stand on an important local, state or national subject. The ability of the writer to present the facts fairly while marshaling a logical and persuasive argument will be a major consideration, along with brevity and wit.

ENTERPRISE/SERIES/INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING — For a multi-part series of articles labeled as such and appearing in two or more issues, or multiple articles in a single issue on the same topic. Entries must give readers an in-depth look at a significant topic. Judging will be on overall journalistic performance, including the ability to be comprehensive and fair while remaining accessible and compelling to readers.

FEATURE WRITING — For a well-written article dealing in an interesting and creative way with a subject that would not be considered “hard news.” It will be judged on initiative, accuracy, completeness and writing quality. This category includes profile stories.

HEADLINE WRITING —
 For five headlines that demonstrate the writer’s ability to capture the essence of a story accurately in a way that catches the attention of readers and leads them into the story. (Please submit headlines and stories.)

HEALTH, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTING — For an article displaying superior journalistic performance in covering health, science, technology or the environment.

PAGE ONE DESIGN — For the best Page One design, considering use of art, informative graphics, well-placed stories and general cohesiveness and appearance.

PUBLIC SERVICE — This award recognizes a news organization that renders a public service through extensive coverage of an issue facing the community it serves or society. Reporting may be conducted by one reporter or a team. Entries may be a single or a series of no more than five parts. Commercially sponsored programs are ineligible unless controlled and produced by the news organization.

REVIEW WRITING —For a critical review of a play, movie, concert, record or CD, book, restaurant, art, car or other such subject. Judges will consider both the quality and persuasiveness of the writing and the piece’s usefulness to potential consumers.

SPORTS REPORTING — For an article displaying superior journalistic performance in covering sports. Sports columns ARE eligible.

TIM O’BRIEN AWARD FOR THE BEST USE OF THE OPEN PUBLIC RECORDS LAW – This award honors the best reporting that uses the N.J. Open Public Records Act to expose issues of public significance. The award is made jointly by the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government, a non-profit, non-partisan group that advocates for government transparency and free access to government information, and the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Among the judging criteria are: significance of the issues to the audience for which the reporting was done; impact of the reporting, if any; creativity and ingenuity shown in finding and using public records to document matters of public importance; persistence needed to overcome obstacles to release the records, if any; integrity and honesty in presenting results.

Entries are invited from all sources, including news organizations, individual journalists, community organizations or individuals. Entries may consist of individual stories or series of stories.

All entries should include a cover letter to provide useful context about the entry, such as significant obstacles encountered or impacts achieved. If the nomination is for a team effort, the cover letter should identify either the news organization involved or the team members primarily responsible for the entry.

Entries must have been printed, broadcast or posted during the calendar year of 2016 (a series of stories that started in 2015 but was not completed until 2016 is also eligible).
This award pays tribute to Tim O’Brien, whose investigative reporting, first at The Star-Ledger and later at The New Jersey Law Journal, exemplified the qualities of courage, thoroughness, integrity, persistence and quiet idealism that we seek to honor.

WILSON BARTO “ROOKIE OF THE YEAR” AWARD FOR BEST FIRST-YEAR JOURNALISTS — This award was established to recognize outstanding achievement by new reportersTo qualify, you must have begun working during 2015 or had your first-year anniversary of working in the newspaper field during 2015.

Interrupted careers should be computed so that the candidate completes a total of 12 months of full-time employment during 2015. Previous part-time and freelancing work does not count toward the computation unless they were substantially full-time.

Entries should consist of links to three (3) individual articles or a series of articles. A series must be so identified in the text. Multiple byline articles will not be eligible. Include place(s) of employment and dates in your entry, plus the anniversary date of your first year. To learn the background of this award, click here.

DIVISION: RADIO

RADIO BREAKING OR HARD NEWS — Best achievement in radio coverage of a breaking or hard-news story. Among the criteria used by judges will be fairness, courage, vigor of presentation, clarity of style, enterprise, artistry and restraint. Entries from broadcast or cable outlets licensed outside New Jersey must be about New Jersey subjects to be eligible.

RADIO ENTERPRISE — Best achievement in radio treatment of a feature story based on the reporter’s own initiative in going outside regular breaking news events. Among the criteria used by judges will be fairness, courage, vigor of presentation, clarity of style, enterprise, artistry and restraint. If your story resulted in change or action, please send a brief description.

DIVISION: TELEVISION

TELEVISION/CABLE BREAKING OR HARD NEWS — Best achievement in television coverage of a breaking or hard-news story. Among the criteria used by judges will be fairness, courage, vigor of presentation, clarity of style, enterprise, artistry and restraint. Entries from broadcast or cable outlets licensed outside New Jersey must be about New Jersey subjects to be eligible.

TELEVISION/CABLE NEWS ENTERPRISE/SERIES/INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING — For a multi-part series labeled as such and appearing in two or more broadcasts , or multiple stories in a single broadcast on the same topic. Entries must give viewers an in-depth look at a significant topic. Judging will be on overall journalistic performance, including the ability to be comprehensive and fair while remaining accessible and compelling to readers. If your program resulted in change or action, please send a brief description.

BEST NEWSCAST — Best single newscast, chosen for diversity and strength of stories reported, as well as use of visuals — including both video and graphics.

BEST TELEVISION/CABLE NEWS PUBLIC AFFAIRS PROGRAM — Honoring the best human interest, interview, political or other program done outside the regular newscast, or on an outlet that doesn’t have a regular newscast. If your program resulted in change or action, please send a brief description.

DIVISION: MAGAZINE
This division includes traditional print magazines as well as online magazine websites in the image of Slate or Salon or Vice.

MAGAZINE FEATURE — For a well crafted and thoroughly reported article about a movement, trend, situation, place or idea of interest or consequence.

MAGAZINE PROFILE — For a well-written and well-researched article profiling an individual or organization.

MAGAZINE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING — For an article or series investigating in depth a public issue that would not otherwise have been fully exposed. A brief statement describing obstacles overcome and results obtained, if any, must be included with the entry.

MAGAZINE BUSINESS REPORTING — For an article displaying superior journalistic performance in covering business, finance, economics or consumer issues

MAGAZINE OPINION — For an interpretive article, column or editorial taking a clear stand on an important local, state or national issue. The writer’s ability to present facts fairly while marshaling a logical and persuasive argument will be a major consideration, along with brevity and wit.

DIVISION: PHOTOJOURNALISM

PHOTOJOURNALISM SPOT NEWS — Photography shot for any outlet (daily/weekly/online only/independent, etc) is eligible. A single photo or a series of up to six photos may be submitted. Submissions will illustrate a breaking news event. Among the criteria used by the judges will be technical excellence, drama, human appeal and an ethical approach to the journalistic issues involved. A series of related photographs will count as one entry. Entries from wire services are welcome as are PDF files. Entries published by media organizations outside New Jersey must be about New Jersey. Judges will look for a superior or spot news picture OR sequence of pictures that helps tell a deadline story clearly and dramatically.

PHOTOJOURNALISM FEATURE — Photography shot for any outlet (daily/weekly/online only/independent etc.) is eligible. Among the criteria used by the judges will be technical excellence, drama, human appeal and an ethical approach to the journalistic issues involved. A series of related photographs will count as one entry. Entries from wire services are welcome as are PDF files. Entries published by media organizations outside New Jersey must be about New Jersey subjects. In the Feature category, judges will look for a superior picture, sequence of pictures, or video (non-deadline) story not easily conveyed in words.

PHOTOJOURNALISM SPORTS — Photography shot for any outlet (daily/weekly/online only/independent etc.) is eligible. Among the criteria used by the judges will be technical excellence, drama, human appeal and an ethical approach to the journalistic issues involved. A series of related photographs will count as one entry. Entries from wire services are welcome as are PDF files. Entries published by media organizations outside New Jersey must be about New Jersey subjects. In the Sports Photojournalism category, judges will look for a superior picture, sequence of pictures, or video that catches the action, drams or poignancy of sports.

(IN ALL THREE PHOTOJOURNALISM CATEGORIES, WE ENCOURAGE BOTH B/W AND COLOR SUBMISSIONS. THE JUDGES WILL BE AGNOSTIC ON THAT SUBJECT)

DIVISION: NEWSLETTERS

NEWSLETTERS OVERALL –
 General appearance, reporting, sophistication of a newsletter based on how well it informs, how dynamic it is, and how it reports news of its field. Submit up to five issues as examples.

DIVISION: BLOGS

INDEPENDENT BLOG — Entrants must submit three samples of their work to be judged on the quality of writing and news value. The blogger must be based in New Jersey or blog on New Jersey topics.

MEDIA-AFFILIATED BLOG – Entrants must submit three samples of their work to be judged on the quality of writing and news value. The blogger must be based in New Jersey or blog on New Jersey topics.

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