Contest Rules

The opportunities outlined on this page are contests offered by NSPA. In these categories the entries compete directly again each other. There are no written critiques or scoring rubrics.

NSPA does provide a critique service for broadcast, magazines, newspapers/newsmagazines, online sites and yearbooks. The critique service provides a written evaluation and an honor rating from Third Class to All American. For more information, visit our critiques page.

NSPA Pacemaker or Individual Awards must be entered on our membership portal under the “CONTESTS” tab.


NSPA Pacemaker

Each year since 1927, the National Scholastic Press Association presents scholastic journalism’s preeminent award, the Pacemaker. There is a category for each type of student media – online, newspaper/newsmagazine, yearbook, literary magazine, specialty/in-depth magazine and broadcast. Entries are judged by teams of experts focusing on the following areas: coverage and content, writing and reporting, leadership, design, photography and graphics. The contests are open to any NSPA member publication. Entries must have been published or broadcast during the dates specified in the contest rules.

High school and middle school/junior high student media are both eligible and compete in separate categories.

The Pacemaker contest does not include a written critique, and publications submitted to NSPA’s critique service are not automatically entered in the Pacemaker competition ­— staffs need to submit a separate Pacemaker entry.

NSPA Newspaper/Newsmagazine Pacemaker

DEADLINE: JUNE 21, 2019

For this contest, digital entries only are accepted. A complete PDF should be submitted for each issue. PDFs of single pages will not be accepted. The following issues should be entered:

  • One issue published in October or November 2018
  • Two consecutive issues published in February, March or April 2019
  • Two issues of choice published between August 1, 2018 and June 21, 2019
  • If you publish less than five issues per year, upload all issues published during the 2018-19 school year

Pacemaker finalists will be announced on or before Sept. 20, 2019. Pacemaker winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention, Nov. 21-24, 2019.

NSPA Broadcast Pacemaker

DEADLINE: JUNE 21, 2019

For this contest, digital entries only are accepted. Submit direct URLs to the member’s online site or a video-sharing site such as YouTube or Vimeo. The following three full, student-produced news programs as they originally ran for their audience should be entered:

  • One broadcast news program that aired between August 1 and December 21, 2018
  • One broadcast news program that aired between January 1 and June 21, 2019
  • One broadcast news program that aired between August 1, 2018 and June 21, 2019

Pacemaker finalists will be announced on or before Sept. 20, 2019. Pacemaker winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention, Nov. 21-24, 2019.

NSPA Online Pacemaker

DEADLINE: OCTOBER 1, 2019
Starting October 14, 2019, judging teams will review the online sites on a regular basis. Pacemaker finalists will be announced on or before Jan. 15, 2020. Judges will continue to review the Pacemaker finalists sites until April 1, 2020, with the Pacemaker winners being announced during the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention, April 16-18, 2020.

 

NSPA Magazine Pacemaker

DEADLINE: NOVEMBER 15, 2019
For this contest, digital or print entries are accepted. For digital entries, a complete PDF should be submitted. PDFs of single pages will not be accepted. Magazines with special techniques such as short trims, foldouts, die cuts, lamination, specialty paper stocks, unique packaging, etc. are encouraged to submit a print publication rather than a PDF. The following should be entered:

  • One literary magazine published during the 2018-19 academic year
  • One specialty/in-depth topical magazine published during the 2018-19 academic year — entries in this category are feature magazines or in-depth topical magazines but not newsmagazines or literary magazines.

Pacemaker finalists will be announced on or before Feb. 1, 2020. Pacemaker winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention, April 16-18, 2020.

NSPA Yearbook Pacemaker

DEADLINE: NOVEMBER 15, 2019

For this contest only print entries are accepted. If your yearbook was submitted for a critique, a second copy must be submitted for Pacemaker competition:

  • One yearbook covering the 2018-19 academic year

Pacemaker finalists will be announced on or before Dec. 20, 2019. Pacemaker winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention, April 16-18, 2020.


NSPA Individual Awards | High School

There are nine competitions with a total of 43 categories.

RULES AND REGULATIONS

  • This contest is open to student media with a current NSPA membership as of the contest deadline of June 21, 2019.
  • Any high school student on the staff of an NSPA member media outlet is eligible to enter.
  • Entries must have been published between August 1, 2018 and June 21, 2019.
  • Middle school/junior high students should enter the Middle School Individual Awards.
  • Limit two entries per category per media outlet, unless otherwise indicated.
  • Finalists will be announced no later than Oct. 1, 2019. Winners will be announced and honored at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention, Nov. 21-24, 2019.
  • NSPA recognizes winners in its publications and on its website.
  • NSPA reserves the right to publish entrants’ work in its print and online publications.

 

ENTRY SUBMISSION

  • Broadcast, digital and print media may enter, depending on the category.
  • Print entries should be submitted as PDF files of the page or spread. File must match the printed product exactly without revisions or edits. Photos should be submitted as jpg files.
  • Use this naming convention for files: category number_last name_school_entry number (separated by underscore). Do NOT use commas or special characters.
  • Broadcast entries must be submitted by direct URL linking to the member’s online site or a video-sharing site such as YouTube or Vimeo.

1. Broadcast Story of the Year 2019

  • 1A. Broadcast News Story: Combines news-gathering skills and presents the latest and most complete information in a logical sequence.
  • 1B. Broadcast Feature Story: Personality profiles or human-interest general features.
  • 1C. Broadcast Sports Story: Coverage of past or present games or a season summary, may also include profiles of sports personalities or human-interest sports features.
  • 1D. Broadcast Commentary: An editorial segment designed to persuade an audience.

2. Cartoon of the Year 2019

  • 2A. Comics Journalism: A form of journalism that covers news or non-fiction events using the framework of comics —­ a combination of words and drawn images. Although visually narrative storytelling has existed for thousands of years, the use of the comics medium to cover real-life events is currently at an all-time peak. Entries might include graphic novels, word balloons and graphic novels, gifs or multimedia editorial art.
  • 2B. Comic Strip/Panel: Usually but not always humorous or light-hearted in its message, with a recurring theme or cast of characters. Comics are fictional and for entertainment. Each installment of a comic strip counts as a separate entry.
  • 2C. Editorial Cartoon: Typically printed on the editorial or other opinion pages and often communicates an opinion on a subject presented in an accompanying editorial or other timely topic in the news. Gifs or multimedia editorial cartoons are also included in this category.

3. Design of the Year 2019

  • 3A. Newspaper Front Page: First page featuring dynamic nameplate and compelling verbal and visual content.
  • 3B. Newspaper Page/Spread: Single-page entries including news, sports, opinion, feature, photo or entertainment that are intended to be viewed without the facing page or two facing pages that together display a single verbal/visual story or a package of related content.
  • 3C. Newsmagazine Cover: First page featuring dynamic nameplate and compelling verbal and visual content.
  • 3D. Newsmagazine Page/Spread: Single-page entries including news, sports, opinion, feature, photo or entertainment that are intended to be viewed without the facing page or two facing pages that together display a single verbal/visual story or a package of related content.
  • 3E. Literary/Specialty Magazine Cover: First page featuring dynamic nameplate and compelling verbal and visual content.
  • 3F. Literary/Specialty Magazine Page/Spread: Single-page entries that display visual/verbal content intended to be viewed without the facing page or two facing pages that together display a single verbal/visual story or a package of related content.
  • 3G. Yearbook Spread: Facing pages, that together display a single verbal/visual story or a package of related content. In the case of chronological coverage, the content is from a clearly labeled period of time. Theme spreads such as opening, closing and dividers must be entered as a Theme Package.
  • 3H. Yearbook Theme Package: One entry per publication. This package includes cover, endsheets, title page, opening, closing, divider and final/parting page presented together as a portfolio.
  • 3I. Information Graphic: Combine illustration and information in an easy-to-read presentation. Popular formats include factoids, lists, quizzes, bar charts, line charts, pie charts, tables, ratings, timelines, step-by-step guides, diagrams and maps.
  • 3J. Illustration: Art or photography used to illustrate a story. All elements must be the original work of the photographer/artist. If appropriate for accuracy, must be labeled as an illustration when published.

4. Digital Story of the Year 2019

  • 4A. Multimedia News Story Package: Combines news-gathering skills and presents the latest and most complete information in a logical sequence. In addition to text and images, entry must include audio, video, slideshows, interactive content (maps, timelines, etc.) or animation as part of a robust story package.
  • 4B. Multimedia Feature Story Package: Personality profiles or human-interest general features. In addition to text and images, entry must include audio, video, slideshows, interactive content (maps, timelines, etc.) or animation as part of a robust story package.
  • 4C. Multimedia Sport Story Package: Coverage of past or present games or a season summary, may also include profiles of sports personalities or human-interest sports features. In addition to text and images, entry must include audio, video, slideshows, interactive content (maps, timelines, etc.) or animation as part of a robust story package.
  • 4D. Photo Slideshow: A photo story on a single subject ideally accompanied by audio of interviews or relevant sounds.
  • 4E. Interactive Graphic: Allows reader to navigate through an informational graphic to engage with the information. Popular formats include factoids, lists, quizzes, bar charts, line charts, pie charts, tables, ratings, timelines, step-by-step guides, diagrams and maps.
  • 4F. Podcast: Delivers relevant content through engaging audio storytelling and should and should be a component of a school’s online site.
  • 4G. Blog: Must reflect journalistic standards in topics, coverage and writing and should be a component of a school’s online site.

5. Photo of the Year 2019

  • 5A. News/Feature Photo: Images capture a visual story of breaking news, activities, academics or teen life.
  • 5B.  Action: Images that capture the competitive action of athletes on school teams or in personal, non-team sports.
  • 5C. Sports Reaction: Images that capture the excitement and drama of sports including athletes, coaches, trainers, fans, spirit squads and band.
  • 5D. Environmental Portrait: Posed images of one or more individuals taken in their natural surroundings to provide insight into their work, interests or personality.

6. Story of the Year 2019

  • 6A. News Story:Combines news-gathering skills and presents the latest and most complete information in a logical sequence.
  • 6B. Feature Story:Personality profiles or human-interest general features.
  • 6C. Sports Story:Coverage of past or present games or a season summary, may also include profiles of sports personalities or human-interest sports features.
  • 6D. Editorial:The statement of the publication’s opinion supported by fact. Editorials generally do not have bylines.
  • 6E. Opinion:Columns or bylined opinion pieces providing research and personal insights and anecdotes.
  • The first place winners in Categories 6A, 6B, 6C, 6D, 6E, 7A will compete for the $1,000 Brasler Prize.

7. Social Justice Reporting 2019

  • 7A. Social Justice Reporting:With a focus on equity and inclusion, story packages in this special category are welcome from all media platforms (print, broadcast, online). A statement explaining why this coverage was included in the publication and any outcomes or impact the coverage had within the school community is required.
  • The first place winners in Categories 7A, 6A, 6B, 6C, 6D, 6E will compete for the $1,000 Brasler Prize.

8. Portfolio of the Year 2019

  • 8A. Artist of the Year: Each member media outlet may nominate one person. Portfolio includes a one-page statement from the nominee explaining contributions and what was learned. Portfolio features five original pieces of print, digital or multi-media art including editorial cartoons and comic strips featuring the nominee’s talents published this year along with one to three sentences describing each piece.
  • 8B. Broadcast Journalist of the Year: Each member media outlet may nominate one person. Portfolio includes a one-page statement from the nominee explaining contributions and what was learned. Portfolio features five original broadcast segments featuring the nominee’s talents published this year along with one to three sentences describing each piece.
  • 8C. Designer of the Year: Each member media outline may nominate one person. Portfolio includes a one-page statement from the nominee explaining contributions and what was learned. Portfolio features five original designs featuring the nominee’s talents published this school year along with one to three sentences describing each piece. Entries may include complete spreads, pages, advertisements, covers, informational graphics, sidebars, etc. from print, web or video.
  • 8D. Marketer of the Year: Each member media outlet may nominate one person. Portfolio includes a one-page statement from the nominee explaining contributions and what was learned. Portfolio features a detailed marketing plan that was implemented this year with results documented.
  • 8E. Multimedia Journalist of the Year: Each member media outlet may nominate one person. Portfolio includes a one-page statement from the nominee explaining contributions and what was learned. Portfolio features five story packages featuring the nominee’s talents published this school year along with one to three sentences describing each piece. In addition to text and images, multimedia entries must include audio, video, slideshows, interactive content (maps, timelines, etc.) and animation as part of each robust story package.
  • 8F. Photojournalist of the Year: Each member media outlet may nominate one person. Portfolio includes a one-page statement from the nominee explaining contributions and what was learned. Portfolio features five images featuring the nominee’s talents published this school year along with one to three sentences describing each piece. Captions must be published with the images and included as part of the entry.
  • 8G. Writer of the Year: Each member media outlet may nominate one person. Portfolio includes a one-page statement from the nominee explaining contributions and what was learned. Portfolio features five pieces of journalistic writing featuring the nominee’s talents published this school year.

9. Best Use of Social Media 2019

  • 9A. Social Media Reporting:Coverage of a topic or event using social media platform(s) for reporting, updating and interacting with the school community.
  • 9B. Social Media Promotion:Use of social media platform(s) for promoting traffic to an online site, broadcast or print news publication or to promote the sale of the yearbook.

NSPA Individual Awards | Middle School

These NSPA Individual Awards are specifically for middle/junior high students. Students compete in three categories.

RULES AND REGULATIONS

  1. This contest is open to student media with a current NSPA membership as of the contest deadline of June 21, 2019.
  2. Any middle/junior high school student on the staff of an NSPA member media outlet is eligible to enter.
  3. High school students should enter the High School Individual Awards.
  4. Limit two entries per category per media outlet, unless otherwise indicated.
  5. Finalists will be announced no later than October 1, 2019. Winners will be announced and honored at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention, Nov. 21-24, 2019
  6. NSPA recognizes winners in its publications and on its website.
  7. NSPA reserves the right to publish entrants’ work in its print and online publications.

ENTRY SUBMISSION

  • Broadcast, digital and print media may enter, depending on the category.
  • Print entries should be submitted as PDF files of the page or spread. File must match the printed product exactly without revisions or edits. Photos should be submitted as jpg files.
  • Use this naming convention for files: category number_last name_school_entry number (separated by underscore). Do NOT use commas or special characters.
  • Broadcast entries must be submitted by direct URL linking to the member’s online site or a video-sharing site such as YouTube or Vimeo.

10. Middle School/Junior High 2019

  • 10A. Design of the Year: A single page or spread from literary magazine, newspaper/newsmagazine or yearbook.
  • 10B. Story of the Year: A news story, feature story or broadcast story appearing in a broadcast, literary magazine, newspaper/newsmagazine, website or yearbook.
  • 10C. Photo of the Year: News, feature or sports photo appearing in a literary magazine, newspaper/newsmagazine, website or yearbook.