2024 Excellence in Journalism Awards

ELIGIBILITY:

This contest is open to all news outlets who cover New Jersey.

Content producers are not required to live in New Jersey.

Entries must have been published or aired during the 2023 calendar year. They should be focused on New Jersey, its people, issues, and culture.

Regional-focused entries with a New Jersey connection are permitted.

GENERAL RULES (Changes for 2024 in bold, italics):

  1. Each contestant is limited to two entries per category, unless specified.
  2. Judges may shift a story to a category and/or division deemed more appropriate.
  3. Entries may not be re-edited and must appear as published and/or aired.
  4. Submitting the same entry in different categories is strictly prohibited, except in categories where a compilation of work is required.
  5. Judging of entries will be performed by an out-of-state SPJ Chapter, unless otherwise noted.
  6. All contest entries become property of NJ-SPJ.
  7. Contestants agree to let NJ-SPJ reproduce their work for the purpose of promoting future contests.
  8. One first place and one second place award is made in each category.
  9. Finalists will be announced prior to the awards ceremony.
  10. Winners will be announced at the Excellence in Journalism Awards ceremony.
  11. Outlets are allowed to publicize their finalists prior to the awards ceremony.
  12. Plaques and certificates will be handed out at the ceremony.
  13. If not present at award ceremony, award winners are responsible for cost of shipping their award(s.)

FEES:

Early Bird Fee (Feb. 1 – March 3): $25 per entry

Regular Fee (March 4 – Mar. 31): $35 per entry

Last Chance Fee (Apr. 1 – Apr. 15): $45 per entry

NJ-SPJ members are eligible for a $10 discount if they are a member of both national SPJ AND NJ-SPJ. Fees are non-refundable. Entries without payment will not be considered. Proceeds will be used to fund NJ-SPJ programs.

DEADLINE TO ENTER:

Entries must be received online by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 15, 2024.

How Do I Enter?

If you entered last year or have entered another contest on the Better Newspaper Contest entry platform previously, you can go directly to the contest here, or click the button below.

If you need to review them, instructions for using the Better Newspaper Contest entry platform are here.


DIVISIONS:

Metro Division – National, New York and Philadelphia outlets

Garden State Division – New Jersey-based outlets

Unless specified, categories are platform neutral.


Categories

1. Best Investigative Story: A single story that exposes wrongdoing or provides a public service by examining a community issue/problem.

2. Best Coverage of State Government: Up to three stories demonstrating commitment to covering the governor, Legislature, state agencies and other entities of the government. This is not just daily coverage, but watchdog coverage and connecting the dots between the government and the residents of the Garden State.

3. Best Coverage of COUNTY Government: Up to three stories demonstrating commitment to covering the county executive, county commissioners and other related entities. This is not just daily coverage, but watchdog coverage and connecting the dots between the government and the residents of the Garden State.

4. Best Coverage of Municipal Government: Up to three stories demonstrating a commitment to covering the mayor, municipal council and related entities. This is not just daily coverage, but watchdog coverage and connecting the dots between the government and the residents of the municipality.

5. Best News Series: Up to three stories covering a single topic over a number of stories/segments.

6. Best Sports Feature: A single story on a person or topic. Non-game coverage is eligible for this category.

7. Best Business/Consumer Story: A single story that focuses on either a business or consumer concern.

8. Best Breaking News Coverage: Up to three stories that demonstrate one day’s coverage of an unplanned, unexpected news event.

9. Best In-Depth Reporting: A single story that focuses on a person, group of people, a community, a significant news event or significant community problem.

10. Best Continuing Coverage: Up to three stories demonstrating commitment to coverage of a major story that requires more than one day’s worth of reporting.

11. Best Arts and Entertainment Coverage: Up to three stories covering arts and entertainment in New Jersey that demonstrates thoroughness, diversity and mastery of coverage.

12. Best Podcast: The best produced program intended for digital-first distribution. Please submit one episode only.

13. Best DIGITAL News Video: For excellence in video for digital-based platforms. Entries should demonstrate the best quality and imagination in telling the story.

14. Best News Photography: Up to three photos, published in any format, demonstrating the skills of the photographer in capturing the story. All photos must come from the same photographer.

15. Best Television News Photography: A single story demonstrating the best quality and imagination in capturing the event.

16. Best Use of Sound for Radio News Story: A single story technical skill and creativity to tell a story. Entry is limited to 15 minutes.

17. Reporter of the Year: Up to four stories highlighting an individual’s work during the year. A cover letter is required to accompany the entry.

18. Best Short Documentary: A stand-alone film/video that addresses an issue, topic or subject that is 30 minutes or shorter.

19. Best Long Documentary A stand-alone film/video that addresses an issue, topic or subject that is longer than a half hour.

20. Best New York Television coverage of New Jersey

21. Best Philadelphia Television coverage of New Jersey

22. Best New York Radio coverage of New Jersey

23. Best Philadelphia Radio coverage of New Jersey

Coverage in categories 20-23 should include a combination of stories (daily, in-depth and/or investigative) that -focuses on New Jersey; the state, its counties and municipalities. Each entrant is required to include a cover letter explaining why they believe they provide the best coverage of New Jersey in support of its portfolio. Entries are limited to four stories.

24. Best Public Affairs Show (TV and Radio) This award is for the best regularly scheduled program focusing on New Jersey issues. Time limit: 60 minutes; please remove commercials/breaks

Spanish language categories

25. Best general coverage, Spanish: Entries should demonstrate best overall coverage of New Jersey with stories of interest to their audience. Entries are limited to seven stories.

26. Best investigative coverage, Spanish: An individual, series or ongoing story that exposes wrongdoing or provides a public service by examining a community issue/problem of interest to a Spanish-speaking audience.

27. Best New York Spanish Television coverage of New Jersey

28. Best Philadelphia Spanish Television Story coverage of New Jersey

Similar to their English-language counterparts, categories 27 and 28 should include a combination of stories (daily, in-depth and/or investigative) that focuses on New Jersey; the state, its counties and municipalities. Each entrant is required to include a cover letter explaining why they believe they provide the best coverage of New Jersey in support of its portfolio. Entries are limited to four stories.