BY SHELLEY HENDRICKS, NINA BOARD
Entries can be submitted now for the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association 2018 Newspaper Contest. Newspapers and freelancers alike can submit work to the contest.
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Election Coverage, which was meant to be a one-time category, has been replaced by two new options: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.
Entries could be single stories or up to three stories by a single reporter to show consistency and quality of coverage of a specific beat. Stories that reveal wrongdoing in government, nonprofit organizations or private business should be entered in the Best Watchdog Reporting category and may not be duplicated in this category.
The deadline to submit entries to the contest is 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 27. Entries submitted to the contest must be from newspapers or websites published from May 1, 2017, to April 30, 2018. Most entries must be submitted as PDFs or JPGs–with the exception of a few categories that will request URLs — at http://www.newspapercontest.com/NINA.
Winners will be honored during the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association annual meeting Thursday, Oct. 25, at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.
For more information and for full rules, visit ninaonline.org.