BY ROGER RUTHHART, NINA Board
One of the most exciting parts of the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association is participating in the annual contest sponsored by the NIU Communication Department for NINA members.
The competition is unique in that it offers some categories that are different than other journalism contests in the state — and new opportunities to be recognized for exceptional work.
This year the NIU Communication Department has accepted several changes suggested by the Contest Committee and the NINA board that we think you’re going to like.
Best Social Issues Story
The Multicultural Reporting category now becomes Best Social Issues Story:
This award will recognize excellence for a social issues story or series. Social issues are matters that can be explained only by factors outside an individual’s control and immediate social environment which affect many individuals in a society.
Common social issues include poverty, violence, justice, human rights (suppression of), immigration, equality (or discrimination), and crime and usually revolve around conflicting viewpoints and tensions between people who take different stances.
Columns should not be entered in this category. Judges will consider the readability, originality and impact.
Best Government/Public Affairs Reporting
The Meeting Coverage category becomes Government/Public Affairs Reporting.
This award will recognize exemplary reporting on state, local or federal government and how it affects a local community. Judges will consider the clarity and relevance to readers as well as readability, originality and impact.
Stories might be on coverage of city hall, school boards, state legislation or other unit of government. Editorials or columns supporting the reporting examples may be part of the entry but not the focus of the entry. Each individual may submit two separate entries.
Entries may include a series of multiple stories or ongoing coverage of a single issues, maximum of five parts.
Several other categories have also changed.
Best Localized News Story, Best Historical Feature
Election Coverage, which was meant to be a one-time category, has been replaced by two new options:
Best Localized News Story. Entries should be stories in which local facts have been added to a state, national or international story. Judges will consider the clarity and relevance to readers as well as readability, originality and impact on the local community.
Best Historical Feature. Entries should be a single story or series of up to three stories that brings local history to life.
Social Media Categories Easier To Enter
Changes were also made in the two Social Media categories: Institution and Individual.
Instead of submitting a list of Social Media items, all members now have to do to enter is submit a link. Although it will come outside the contest period, judges will simply pick random days/times to judge the work.
This not only makes entering easier but makes the competition fairer, eliminating the opportunity to load up on one big story.
Social Media — Institution: This award recognizes the most effective use of social media by a media organization. Judging will be based on the quality and originality of content on social media platforms, innovation in the use of social media, evidence of audience engagement, integration with other electronic and print content and overall impact.
Social Media — Individual: This award recognizes the most effective use of social media by an individual. Judging will be based on the quality and originality of content on social media platforms, innovation in the use of social media, evidence of audience engagement, integration with other electronic and print content and overall impact.
For both social media categories, judges will pick random days/times to view the entry. Please submit a link(s).
1st, 2nd, 3rd — Guaranteed
Finally, wording was cleaned up which allowed a judge last year to award a second-place award, but no first. Specifics have also been provided on how categories with a small number of entries should be handled.
The rules now read:
Judges should award a first, second and third place in each category and an honorable mention if warranted unless the number of entries precludes it, in which case there should always be a first-place winner.
If judges think an entry has been wrongly categorized or is inappropriate for the category, they should notify the contest coordinator. The contest coordinator has the power to reclassify entries after consulting with NINA executive officers.
He/she also may combine daily/non-daily entries into one group if warranted by fewer than three entries in an individual circulation category. Contest points will be counted in the category in which the prize winner normally competes.
The current contest year is May 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018 and members should be receiving entry information soon after the end of the contest period.
The contest is open to paid NINA members only, so be sure your 2018 dues have been paid!
Last year there were 395 entries in the daily and non-daily categories, up from 285 just two years before.
Entries are still just $6 each. Deadline for submitting entries is Aug. 3, 2018.
Hope to see you at the Awards Dinner Thursday, Oct. 25!
- Roger is the chairman of the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association’s Contest Committee.