NSPA Awards: Information & Rules

The contests of National Scholastic Press Association are the most-competitive, most-honored prizes in scholastic journalism.

The prestigious Pacemaker recognizes overall excellence and distinguishes the top student media produced during a school year.  

Individual Awards recognize the outstanding achievements of individual students and small teams of journalists. 

The Clips & Clicks competition is an open competition each semester, with an annual Sweepstakes Award.

The Best of Show contest ranks the best student media represented at the twice-yearly National High School Journalism Convention.

For these competitions, entries compete directly against each other. There are no written critiques or scoring rubrics. Student media staffs seeking a comprehensive evaluation, including detailed feedback, a scoring rubric and an honor rating of Third Class to All American, are encouraged to participate in the NSPA critique service.

The Leadership Award in Student Journalism, formerly the NSPA Honor Roll, honors journalistic contributions and leadership in student media. Award recipients are eligible to compete for the Leadership Award in Student Journalism Scholarship.

The Wikoff Scholarship for Editorial Leadership honors a high school senior on the staff of a NSPA-member newspaper/newsmagazine or online site. 

National Scholastic Press Association has presented scholastic journalism’s preeminent award — the Pacemaker — since 1927.

Winners are announced at JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention, both fall and spring. NSPA membership qualifies a publication for participation in the Pacemaker competition. Entries must have been published or broadcast during the dates specified on each entry form. High school and junior high/middle school student media are both eligible and compete in separate categories. 

There is a contest for each media type, linked to the information below —

2022 Pacemakers, announced in spring 2023
Yearbook
Literary Arts Magazine
Online
Innovation

2023 Pacemakers, announced in fall 2023
Broadcast
Newspaper/Newsmagazine
Specialty Magazine

Pacemaker entries compete directly against each other. No written critiques or scoring rubrics are provided. Student media staffs seeking a comprehensive evaluation, including detailed feedback, a scoring rubric and an honor rating of Third Class to All-American, members are encouraged to participate in the NSPA Critique Service.

Pacemaker winners announced at our conventions

2022 Pacemakers,
announced in spring 2023
Yearbook
Literary Arts Magazine
Online
Innovation

2023 Pacemakers,
announced in fall 2023
Broadcast
Newspaper/Newsmagazine
Specialty Magazine

NSPA Individual Awards honor the nation’s best scholastic journalism.

Entrants are individuals and small teams whose work is judged by teams of professionals with experience and expertise in the contest category.

To participate in the Individual Awards, NSPA-member publications pay a $99 annual fee.

For high school journalists, there are approximately 45 contests in 11 categories, linked to their sections below —

  1. Broadcast Story of the Year (4 contests)
  2. Cartoon of the Year (2)
  3. Design of the Year (10)
  4. Digital Story of the Year (7)
  5. Photo of the Year (5)
  6. Story of the Year (5)
  7. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awards (1)
  8. NEW / Fred Ross Systemic Change Student Journalism Competition (1)
  9. Local Climate Change Reporting (1)
  10. Portfolio of the Year (7)
  11. Best Use of Social Media (2)

The first-place winners from each Story of the Year subcategory — news story, feature story, sports story, editorial and opinion — compete for the $1,000 Brasler Prize.

Junior high/middle school journalists compete in five contests in this category —

12. Junior High/Middle School Individual Awards (5)


2023 Individual Awards 

OPENS on Feb. 17, 2023

DEADLINE: 5 p.m. CT June 1, 2023

2023 rules & regulations

ONLINE AWARD SUBMISSION: All entries are submitted using the BetterBNC award platform.

Creating an Open Call account is required and takes only a few minutes for one-time set-up. Each NSPA-member broadcast, publication or website should have an Open Call account —  each with a different email address.

Assistance with the BetterBNC award platform is available at 360-427-6300, from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Pacific or by emailing cody@smalltownpapers.com.

ELIGIBILITY: Entries must have been published between June 25, 2022, and June 1, 2023. The contest is open only to student media with a current NSPA membership as of the contest deadline. Any student on the staff of an NSPA-member media outlet is eligible to enter. The entry must be published in the NSPA-member student media. The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion contest and the Fred Ross Systemic Change Journalism Competition do not require NSPA membership.

Middle school/junior high NSPA member broadcasts, publications and websites should enter Junior High/Middle School Individual Awards (category 13). All other categories are for high school members.

ENTRY FEE: To participate in the Individual Awards, NSPA-member publications pay an optional $99 annual fee at the time membership is purchased or renewed. Members who did not pay the $99 with their membership may purchase an Individual Awards Entry 2022-23, from the NSPA Store.

The $99 annual fee is required for each NSPA-member media outlet participating in the Individual Awards and provides high school staffs full access to all 45 contests in 11 categories. Each broadcast, literary arts magazine, newspaper/newsmagazine, online site and yearbook within the same school must pay the $99 fee. A newspaper/newsmagazine may enter content from both its print and online sites.

DEADLINE: The website for award submission will be closed at 5 p.m. CT June 1, 2023. The deadline will not be reopened. 

ANNOUNCEMENT: Finalists will be announced in September 2023. Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention, Nov. 2-5 in Boston. NSPA recognizes finalists and winners in its publication and on its websites and social media sites. NSPA recognizes the right to publish the entrants’ work in its print and online publications as well as on social media.

RECOGNITION: The first-place winner in each category will receive a plaque for the student media outlet and a certificate for up to five students. Second- through 10th-place winners receive certificates. If the entry is the work of more than one student, up to five names will be listed in alphabetical order. If more than five students are responsible, the award will be presented to Staff. Some contests have cash prizes, as noted, and they are provided by co-sponsoring organizations. 

NUMBER OF ENTRIES: The number of entries allowed for each contest is indicated. In most cases, one or two entries per student media outlet are allowed. Staffs are encouraged to work together to select their highest quality work. Entries may not be submitted in more than one category. 

SUBMISSION: The submission format required for each contest is indicated. In most categories, a URL link to a website or a PDF file of the printed page is required — but not both. For PDF files, the folio line with the publication date should be included. For Photo of the Year contests, actual image files (JPG, TIF, PNG) are required. Word documents will be rejected.

QUESTIONS: Inquires about the NSPA Individual Awards should be directed to Gary Lundgren, NSPA associate director, at gary@studentpress.org. Assistance with the BetterBNC award platform is available at 360-427-6300, from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Pacific or by emailing cody@smalltownpapers.com.

Individual Award sponsors

Local climate change reporting

George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication

Diversity, Equity
and Inclusion Awards

Hubbard School of Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Minnesota

Coverage of long-term solutions to challenges

Foundation for Systemic Change

1. Broadcast Story of the Year

1A. Broadcast News Story

Reporting on breaking news or an issue of importance to your audience that demonstrates strong news-gathering skills while delivering concise information.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link.

1B. Broadcast Feature Story

Personality profiles or human-interest general features.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link.

1C. Broadcast Sports Story

Coverage of past or present games or a seasonal summary, may also include profiles of sports personalities or human-interest sports features.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link.

1D. Broadcast Commentary

An editorial segment designed to inform and persuade an audience.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link.

2. Cartoon of the Year

2A. 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 the comic strip counts as a separate entry.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of printed page. Do not submit both.

2B. Editorial Cartoon

Typically printed on the editorial page 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 allowed in this category.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of printed page. Do not submit both. 

3. Design of the Year

3A. Newspaper Front Page

First page featuring dynamic nameplate and compelling verbal and visual content.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school newspaper. A publication can not enter both Newspaper and Newsmagazine categories.

Submission: PDF file of printed page.

3B. Newspaper Page/Spread

Single-page or spread entries including news, sports, opinion, feature, photo or entertainment that are intended to be viewed without facing pages or two facing pages that together display a single verbal/visual story or a package of related content.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school newspaper. A publication can not enter both Newspaper (3A, 3B) and Newsmagazine (3C, 3D) categories.

Submission: PDF file of printed page(s).

3C. Newsmagazine Cover

First page featuring dynamic nameplate and compelling verbal and visual content.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school newsmagazine. A publication can not enter both Newspaper (3A, 3B) and Newsmagazine (3C, 3D) categories.

Submission: PDF file of cover.

3D. Newsmagazine Page/Spread

Single-page or spread entries including news, sports, opinion, feature, photo or entertainment that are intended to be viewed without facing pages or two facing pages that together display a single verbal/visual story or a package of related content.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school newsmagazine.  A publication can not enter both Newspaper (3A, 3B) and Newsmagazine (3C, 3D) categories.

Submission: PDF file of printed page(s).

3E. Literary/Specialty Magazine Cover

First page featuring dynamic nameplate and compelling verbal and visual content.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school magazine.

Submission: PDF file of cover.

3F. Literary/Specialty Magazine Page/Spread

Single-page or spread entries that display verbal/visual 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. 

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school magazine.

Submission: PDF file of printed page(s).

3G. Yearbook Spread

Facing pages that together display a single verbal/visual story or a collection of related content.

In the case of chronological coverage, the content is from a clearly labeled period of time. Spreads such as opening, closing and dividers must be entered in contest 3H. Yearbook Theme Package.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school yearbook.

Submission: PDF file of printed page(s).

3H. Yearbook Theme Package

This package includes cover, endsheets, title page, opening, closing, divider and final/parting page presented together as a portfolio and compiled into a single file.

Number of Entries: One entry per NSPA-member high school yearbook.

Submission: PDF file of the theme portfolio. If the PDF file is too large to upload, submit a URL link to the PDF file on a shared drive taking care that permissions allow judge access. 

3I. Informational Graphic

Combines 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. Credit must be provided for any images used.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of printed page. Do not submit both. 

3J. Illustration

Art or photography used to illustrate a story. All elements must be the original work of the photographer/artists. If appropriate for accuracy, must be labeled as an illustration when published. Credit must be provided for any images used.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of printed page. Do not submit both. 

4. Digital Story of the Year

4A. Multimedia News Story

Reporting on breaking news or an issue of importance to your audience that demonstrates strong news-gathering skills and delivers concise information. In addition to text and images, entry must include audio, video, slideshows, interactive content (maps, timelines, etc.) or animation. Credit must be provided for any images used.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link.

4B. Multimedia Feature Story

Personality profiles, trend stories or human-interest stories; not news or sports. In addition to text and images, entry must include audio, video, slideshows, interactive content (maps, timelines, etc.) or animation. Credit must be provided for any images used.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link.

4C. Multimedia Sports Story

Coverage of games or seasonal 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. Credit must be provided for any images used.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link.

4D. Photo Slideshow

A photo story on a single subject with each photo communicating a different angle. Captions and photo credits must be included for every image. All images should be the work of student photographers.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link.

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. Credit must be provided for any images used.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link.

4F. Podcast

Delivers relevant content through engaging audio storytelling and should appear on your media outlet’s NSPA-member website.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link.

4G. Blog

Must reflect journalistic standards in topics, coverage and writing and should appear on your media outlet’s NSPA-member website.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link.

5. Photo of the Year

5A. News Photo

Captures a timely visual story and displays news value and evidence of on-the-spot coverage.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high media outlet.

Submission: An image file (JPG, TIF, PNG) is required and a complete journalistic caption must be typed into the entry form. Do not submit URL link or PDF file — they will be disqualified.

5B. Feature Photo

Delivers a human-interest story with the emphasis on people in their environment.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high media outlet.

Submission: An image file (JPG, TIF, PNG) is required and a complete journalistic caption must be typed into the entry form. Do not submit URL link or PDF file — they will be disqualified.

5C. Sports Game/Action Photo

Captures the competitive action and emotion of athletes on school teams competing in games, matches and meets or in personal, non-team sports.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: An image file (JPG, TIF, PNG) is required and a complete journalistic caption must be typed into the entry form. Do not submit URL link or PDF file — they will be disqualified.

5D. Sports Feature Photo

Images communicate a story other than direct action on the playing field including human-interest sports stories such as profiles of sports figures.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: An image file (JPG, TIF, PNG) is required and a complete journalistic caption must be typed into the entry form. Do not submit URL link or PDF file — they will be disqualified.

5E. Environmental Portrait

Posed images of one or more individuals taken in their natural surroundings to provide insight into their work, interests or personality.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: An image file (JPG, TIF, PNG) is required and an identification/caption must be typed into the entry form. Do not submit URL link or PDF file — they will be disqualified.

6. Story of the Year

6A. News Story

Reporting on breaking news or an issue of importance to your audience that demonstrates strong news-gathering skills and delivers concise information. 

The first-place winner in the Story of the Year categories (News Story, Feature Story, Sports Story, Editorial and Opinion) compete for the $1,000 Brasler Prize.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of printed page(s). Do not submit both.

6B. Feature Story

Personality profiles or human-interest general features. 

The first-place winner in the Story of the Year categories (News Story, Feature Story, Sports Story, Editorial and Opinion) compete for the $1,000 Brasler Prize.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of printed page(s). Do not submit both.

6C. Sports Story

Coverage of past or present games or a seasonal summary, may also include profiles of sports personalities or human-interest sports features. 

The first-place winner in the Story of the Year categories (News Story, Feature Story, Sports Story, Editorial and Opinion) compete for the $1,000 Brasler Prize.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of printed page(s). Do not submit both.

6D. Editorial

The statement of the publication’s opinion supported by fact. Editorials generally do not have bylines.

The first-place winner in the Story of the Year categories (News Story, Feature Story, Sports Story, Editorial and Opinion) compete for the $1,000 Brasler Prize.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of printed page(s). Do not submit both.

6E. Opinion

Columns or bylined opinion pieces providing research and personal insights and anecdotes. 

The first-place winner in the Story of the Year categories (News Story, Feature Story, Sports Story, Editorial and Opinion) compete for the $1,000 Brasler Prize.

Number of Entries: Two entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of printed page(s). Do not submit both.

7. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

7A. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Reporting

The University of Minnesota’s Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication has joined the National Scholastic Press Association in launching the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion competition.

Stories from all platforms are eligible. Long-form stories, published in print or online, should be accompanied by sidebars, graphics and data. Broadcast packages may also be entered.

Eligible coverage will include but not be limited to race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and other differences.

Winners receive a $500 cash award presented by the Hubbard School.

Number of Entries: Unlimited high school entries, NSPA membership not required.

Submission: URL link for broadcast and online or PDF file for print. Do not submit both.

8. Reporting on Systemic Change

8A. Fred Ross Systemic Change Journalism Competition

The Foundation for Systemic Change has joined NSPA in creating the Fred Ross Systemic Change Journalism Competition. 

The competition is named for Fred Ross, a renowned advocate and organizer who trained and mentored leaders like Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta to become iconic grassroots organizers.  

Eligible coverage focuses on the systemic change taking place in school and local communities to address today’s complex challenges including climate change, violence and hate, polarization, racial inequalities, LGBTQ+ issues, threatened democracy and other complex issues.

Stories should answer these questions:

  • What is the complex challenge that requires systemic change?
  • How are the people/organization addressing the challenge being covered address the challenge in a systemic manner?

The foundation offers free online workshops and industry-recognized advisers to mentor student journalists. Participation is encouraged before beginning reporting and writing. 

> Sign up for mentorship opportunities on the Foundation’s website.

The first-place winner earns $1,000, and the second and third place winners $500 and $200 respectively. Team reporting is permitted, and the cash prize will be divided among the names on the entry form. 

Published stories from all platforms including print, broadcast or mixed media are eligible and should be accompanied by sidebars, graphics and data.

Number of Entries: Unlimited high school entries, NSPA membership not required.

Submission: URL link or PDF file. Do not submit both.

9. Local Climate Change

9A. Local Climate Change Reporting

Climate change is one of the most important stories of our generation. This contest, in partnership with the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, encourages local climate change reporting by college media.

Long-form stories, published in print or online, should be accompanied by sidebars, graphics and data. Broadcast packages may also be entered.

All student journalists who are interested in reporting on climate change as a local story are encouraged to use the Climate Matters in the Newsroom reporting resources, science-based reporting materials that are funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation. These materials can be used in award submissions.

The first-place winner earns $500, and the second and third place winners $300 and $200 respectively. Team reporting is permitted, and the cash prize will be divided among the names on the entry form.

Number of Entries: Unlimited entries per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: URL link for broadcast and online or PDF file for print. Do not submit both.

10. Portfolio of the Year

10A. Artist of the Year

Each member high school 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.

Number of Entries: One entry per NSPA-member high media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of portfolio. Do not submit both.

10B. Broadcast Journalist of the Year

Each member high school 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 stories featuring the nominee’s talents published this year along with one to three sentences describing each piece.

Number of Entries: One entry per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of portfolio. Do not submit both.

10C. Designer of the Year

Each member high school 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.

Number of Entries: One entry per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of portfolio. Do not submit both.

10D. Marketer of the Year

Each member high school 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.

Number of Entries: One entry per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of portfolio. Do not submit both.

10E. Multimedia Journalist of the Year

Each member high school media outlet may nominate one person. Portfolio includes a one-page statement from the nominee explaining contributions and what was learned. Portfolio features five stories 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.

Number of Entries: One entry per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of portfolio. Do not submit both.

10F. Photojournalist of the Year

Each member high school 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.

Number of Entries: One entry per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of portfolio. Do not submit both.

10G. Writer of the Year

Each member high school 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.

Number of Entries: One entry per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of portfolio. Do not submit both.

11. Best Use of Social Media

11A. Social Media Reporting

Coverage using social media platforms for reporting, updating and engaging with the school community. Collect social-media examples using an online content curation tool or by capturing screenshots with links to create a portfolio.

Number of Entries: One entry per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link to portfolio or PDF portfolio. Do not submit both.

11B. Social Media Promotion

Use of social media platforms for promoting traffic to an online site, broadcast or print news publication or to promote the sale of the yearbook. Collect social media examples using an online content curation tool or by capturing screenshots with links to create a portfolio.

Number of Entries: One entry per NSPA-member high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link to portfolio or PDF portfolio. Do not submit both.

12. Junior High/Middle School Individual Awards

Two categories have been added specifically for junior high/middle school journalists.

12A. Design of the Year

A single page or spread from literary magazine, newspaper/newsmagazine or yearbook.

Number of Entries: Five entries per NSPA-member middle school/junior high media outlet.

Submission: PDF file of printed page(s). Middle school/junior high only.

12B. Story of the Year

A news story or feature story appearing in a newspaper/newsmagazine, website or yearbook.

Number of Entries: Five entries per NSPA-member middle school/junior high media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of printed page(s). Do not submit both.

12C. Broadcast Story of the Year

A news, feature or sports story aired by broadcast station or website.

Number of Entries: Five entries per NSPA-member middle school/junior high media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link.

12D. Multimedia Story of the Year

News, features or sports stories that demonstrate strong reporting skills and delivers concise information. In addition to text and images, entry must include audio, video, slideshows, interactive content (maps, timelines, etc.) or animation. Credit must be provided for any images used.

Number of Entries: Five entries per NSPA-member middle school/junior high school media outlet.

Submission: Website URL link.

12E. Photo of the Year

News, feature or sports photo appearing in a literary magazine, newspaper/newsmagazine, website or yearbook. A caption is required.

Five entries per NSPA-member middle school/junior high media outlet.

Submission: An image file (JPG, TIF, PNG) is required and a complete journalistic caption must be typed into the entry form. Do not submit URL link or PDF file — they will be disqualified.

NSPA’s Best of Show competition is presented as part of each national convention, both fall and spring.

It’s a popular, lively competition open to convention registrants, with an entry fee and a range of competition categories for current student work. 

The current convention’s webpage will post that convention’s Best of Show contest rules, rates, eligibility and submission guidelines. Links to convention webpages are on the NSPA Events page. 

Entries for Best of Show Individual Recognition categories are submitted online prior to the convention, and Staff Recognition categories are entered on site at the convention. Judging is completed during the convention, and ranked winners are announced and posted at the close of the convention.

Typically smaller and distinct from the Pacemakers, the Best of Show awards do not signify a ranking of national excellence but rather overall excellence among the attendees and their entries. Convention attendance drives the number of entries and places awarded.

Best of Show provides no written critiques or scoring rubrics. Use the separate NSPA Critique Service for a comprehensive evaluation, including detailed feedback, a scoring rubric and an honor rating of Third Class to All-American.

Best of Show rules &
info on convention sites

Open to all NSPA members, Clips & Clicks offers multiple categories for student achievement in broadcast, design, photojournalism and writing. 

With a name that merges historic clips contests for print publications with current digital clicks, the competition is offered per semester. Fall-semester and spring-semester results then determine the annual Sweepstakes Award going to the publication with the most and highest individual winners.

The cost is $10 per entry, with no limit on entries. Any student on staff at an NSPA-member publication is eligible, with shared bylines of up to five students per entry.

Fall-semester work encompasses August to December with fall winners announced in February. Spring-semester work encompasses January to March, with spring winners and the Sweepstakes Award announced in July.

Contest categories, as well as specific dates and deadlines, are below.

Contest dates & categories

Entries for spring 2023 will be accepted starting Feb. 1, 2023, with a May 3, 2023, deadline. Fall 2022 and spring 2023 results will determine the year’s Sweepstakes Award.

BROADCAST 

1A. Broadcast News Story
Reporting on breaking news or an issue of importance to your audience that demonstrates strong news-gathering skills and delivers concise information. Submission: Website URL link.

1B. Broadcast Feature Story
Personality profiles or human-interest general features. Submission: Website URL link.

1C. Broadcast Sports Story
Coverage of past or present games or a seasonal summary, may also include profiles of sports personalities or human-interest sports features. Submission: Website URL link.

1D. Broadcast Commentary
An editorial segment designed to inform and persuade an audience. Submission: Website URL link.

DESIGN

2A. Newspaper Front Page
First page featuring dynamic nameplate and compelling verbal and visual content. Submission: PDF file of printed page(s).

2B. Newspaper Page/Spread
Single-page entries including news, sports, opinion, feature, photo or entertainment that are intended to be viewed without facing pages or two facing pages that together display a single verbal/visual story or a package of related content. Submission: PDF file of printed page(s).

2C. Magazine Cover
First page featuring dynamic nameplate and compelling verbal and visual content from feature, news, literary arts and specialty magazines. Submission: PDF file of printed page(s).

2D. Magazine Page/Spread
Single-page entries including news, sports, opinion, feature, photo or entertainment that are intended to be viewed without facing pages or a collection of two or more pages that together display a single verbal/visual story or a package of related content. Page/spread designs may be submitted from feature, news, literary arts and specialty magazines. Submission: PDF file of printed page(s).

2E. Yearbook Spread
Facing pages that together display a single verbal/visual story or a package of related content. Submission: PDF file of printed page(s).

2F. Informational Graphic
Combines 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. Submission: PDF file of printed page(s) or website URL link.

PHOTOJOURNALISM

3A. News Photo
Captures a timely visual story and displays news value and evidence of on-the-spot coverage. Submission: An image file (JPG, TIF, PNG) is required along with a caption. Do not submit URL link or PDF file.

3B. Feature Photo
Delivers a human-interest story with the emphasis on people in their environment. Submission: An image file (JPG, TIF, PNG) is required along with a caption. Do not submit URL link or PDF file.

3C. Sports Photo
Captures the competitive action and emotion of athletes on school teams competing in games, matches and meets or in personal, non-team sports. Also shows emotional reaction by athletes, fans, officials or others at a school sporting event. Submission: An image file (JPG, TIF, PNG) is required along with a caption. Do not submit URL link or PDF file.

WRITING

4A. News Story
Reporting on breaking news or an issue of importance to your audience that demonstrates strong news-gathering skills and delivers concise information. Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of printed page(s). Do not submit both.

4B. Feature Story
Personality profiles or human-interest general features. Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of printed page(s). Do not submit both.

4C. Sports Story
Coverage of past or present games or a seasonal summary, may also include profiles of sports personalities or human-interest sports features. Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of printed page(s). Do not submit both.

4D. Editorial
The statement of the publication’s opinion supported by fact. Editorials generally do not have bylines. Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of printed page(s). Do not submit both.

4E. Opinion
Columns, reviews or bylined opinion pieces providing research and personal insights and anecdotes. Submission: Website URL link or PDF file of printed page(s). Do not submit both.

Fall 2022 results

Spring 2022 results
Congratulations to our 2021-22 Sweepstakes winner —
The Shield, McCallum High School, Austin Texas

Fall 2021 results

Spring 2021 results
Congratulations to our 2020-21 Sweepstakes winner —
Christopher Columbus High School, Miami, Florida.

Fall 2020 results

Leading the Pacemaker 100 is Lair, the yearbook at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, Shawnee, Kansas. The staff and adviser Susan Massy were honored at the Nov. 12, 2022, celebration.

As part of its centennial celebration, in 2021, NSPA recognized its top 100 Pacemaker-winning publications in the Pacemaker 100.

First presented in 1927 as the Pace-Maker, the Pacemaker awards are now recognized as the top prizes in scholastic journalism. They honor the very best scholastic broadcasts, literary arts magazines, newspapers/newsmagazines, online publications, specialty magazines and yearbooks.

The Pacemaker 100 represents a one-time snapshot of the top 100 publications recognized in the competition during its history.

The Pacemaker 100, including the Top 10, were celebrated Nov. 12, 2022, at the St. Louis convention.

Each Pacemaker finalist was awarded five points and each Pacemaker earned 10 points. The results were tabulated in May 2021.

Publications inducted into the NSPA Hall of Fame have earned the recognition through long-term excellence.

Hall of Fame publications have earned 10 All-American ratings from the NSPA Critique Service within an 11-year span.

The NSPA Honor Roll for Student Journalists transforms in 2022-23 into the new NSPA Leadership Award in Student Journalism.

The new leadership award honors journalistic contributions and leadership in student media, and it complements the academic recognition through the Quill and Scroll International Honor Society for Student Journalists, which is now part of NSPA.

To earn the NSPA Leadership Award in Student Journalism, a high school student must serve with distinction for at least two years on the staff of an NSPA-member broadcast, literary arts magazine, newspaper/newsmagazine, specialty magazine, website or yearbook by the end of the current school year.

Students are nominated by their advisers. A specific grade-point average is not required; however, students must be in good academic standing and demonstrate journalistic excellence and staff leadership while maintaining the high ethical standards outlined in the NSPA Model Code of Ethics. The code is free for members through the NSPA Store.

Advisers must submit nomination forms by March 3, 2023. The form is located on the membership portal under the Contests tab.

Inductees receive a certificate of recognition and are eligible to wear the NSPA Leadership in Student Journalism teal honor cord at graduation, as well as being listed on the NSPA website and on the pages of the Best of the High School Press.

In early April, advisers will receive a PDF file with printable certificates for presenting to their inductees at year-end recognition ceremonies.
Seniors earning the NSPA Leadership Award in Student Journalism may apply for a $1,000 scholarship. Scholarship applications are also due March 31, 2023. The application is located on the membership portal under the Contests tab.

NSPA Honor Roll
of Student Journalists
Replaced by the NSPA Leadership Award in 2023.

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NSPA Honor Roll Scholarships
Replaced by the NSPA Leadership Award Scholarship in 2023.

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Wikoff Scholarship for Editorial Leadership

In recognition of his service to NSPA as its executive director in the 1970s, NSPA offers the Wally Wikoff Scholarship for Editorial Leadership.

The $1,000 award is presented to a high school senior on the staff of an NSPA member newspaper/newsmagazine or online site with a minimum 3.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale or equivalent. 

In addition to the entry form, applicants must submit three published editorials and a brief recommendation from the adviser. Scholarship applications are due March 3, 2023. The form is located on the membership portal under the Contests tab.

Wikoff Scholarship
for Editorial Leadership

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