Contest overview & 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. 

Clips & Clicks 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.

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. 

Participation in the Pacemaker contest is a benefit of NSPA membership. There aren’t additional entry fees.

Pacemaker 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.

There are currently seven Pacemaker competitions for scholastic media:

Broadcast
Innovation
Literary Arts Magazine
Newspaper/Newsmagazine
Online
Specialty Magazine
Yearbook

Broadcast 

OPENS: April 1, 2024

DEADLINE: June 7, 2024

TO ENTER: Visit the membership portal under the Contests tab.

Submit three full, student-produced news programs as they originally ran for their audience using URL links to a website or a video-sharing site such as YouTube or Vimeo. The video-sharing site must be owned by your student media program rather than an individual. 

The following should be entered:

  • One broadcast news program that aired between Aug. 1 and Dec. 24, 2023.
  • One broadcast news program that aired between Jan. 1 and June 7, 2024.
  • One broadcast news program that aired between Aug. 1, 2023, and June 7, 2024.

Finalists will be announced in September 2024. Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention, Nov. 7-10, 2024, in Philadelphia.

Innovation

OPENS: April 1, 2024

DEADLINE: Jan. 17, 2025

TO ENTER: Visit the membership portal under the Contests tab.

The Innovation Pacemaker is designed to encourage out-of-the-box thinking and reward student media for the courage to take chances to improve service to their customers, readers and communities.

Create a PDF packet, a website, a video, a podcast — whatever works best to deliver your story and supporting information. Provide examples and documentation as appropriate. Careful editing and visual packaging are important. For complete information on preparing your application packet, download the PDF. 

Finalists will be announced in February 2025. Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention, April 24-27, 2025, in Seattle.

Literary Arts Magazine

OPENS: April 1, 2024

DEADLINE: Nov. 15, 2024

TO ENTER: Visit the membership portal under the Contests tab.

Submit a complete PDF file containing all of the pages and the cover.

Magazines with special techniques such as short trims, foldouts, die cuts, lamination, specialty paper stocks and distinctive packaging are encouraged to submit a print publication in addition to a PDF file.

The following should be entered:

  • One issue published between June 10, 2023, and June 10, 2024.

Finalists will be announced in February 2025. Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention, April 24-27, 2025, in Seattle.

Newspaper/Newsmagazine

OPENS: April 1, 2024

DEADLINE: June 7, 2024

TO ENTER: Visit the membership portal under the Contests tab.

A complete PDF file should be submitted for each issue. Single-page PDF files will not be accepted. 

The following issues should be entered:

  • Four issues published between June 10, 2023, and June 10, 2024.

A special edition can be included in the four issues submitted. A special edition should provide a comprehensive look into a relevant, timely and often complex topic. A special edition should be a showcase for robust, in-depth reporting. Judges do not relax their high journalistic standards for April Fools or Senior issues.

If fewer than four issues are published, submit all the issues published during the 2023-24 school year. The judges will determine what effect, if any, publishing fewer than four issues will have on your entry. 

Finalists will be announced in September 2024. Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention, Nov. 7-10, 2024, in Philadelphia.

Online

OPENS: April 1, 2024

DEADLINE: Nov. 15, 2024

TO ENTER: Visit the membership portal under the Contests tab.

Submit a URL link. On Nov. 18, 2024, judging teams will begin reviewing the online sites on a regular basis. 

Starting in 2024, members submit three URLs of featured content for the judges to review in addition to the overall site and its content.

Finalists will be announced in February 2025. Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention, April 24-27, 2025, in Seattle.

Specialty Magazine

OPENS: April 1, 2024

DEADLINE: June 7, 2024

TO ENTER: Visit the membership portal under the Contests tab.

A complete PDF file should be submitted for each issue. 

The following issues should be entered:

  • Four issues published between June 10, 2023, and June 10, 2024.

If fewer than four issues are published, submit all the issues published during the 2023-24 school year. The judges will determine what effect, if any, publishing fewer than four issues will have on your entry. 

Specialty magazines provide in-depth, long-form stories focused on timely topics/issues relevant to your audience. All the content of the specialty magazine should focus on the topic/issue. A specialty magazine has its own identity and name and it is not a special edition of a newspaper/newsmagazine. 

Topical magazines such as sports, science, business or entertainment also compete in this category.

Literary arts and newsmagazines do not compete in this category. Judges reserve the right to move your entry to the Newsmagazine contest if appropriate.

Finalists will be announced in September 2024. Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention, Nov. 7-10, 2024, in Philadelphia.

Yearbook

OPENS: April 1, 2024

DEADLINE: Nov. 15, 2024

TO ENTER: Visit the membership portal under the Contests tab.

A print yearbook should be entered and arrive at NSPA by the deadline date. Yearbooks will not be returned.

If participating in the NSPA Critique Service, a second copy of the yearbook for Pacemaker competition is required. For spring-delivery yearbooks, NSPA suggests shipping both copies in the spring before school closes for the year.

NSPA recommends using Priority Mail from the U.S. Postal Service. Take two copies of the yearbook to the U.S. Post Office where you will use a Priority Mail Forever Prepaid Flat Rate Medium Box-2-PPFRB2. It will cost approximately $18.40 to ship.

Media Mail from the U.S. Postal Service does NOT allow the shipment of yearbooks. The U.S. Post Office serving the NSPA offices will not deliver the Media Mail package and reserves the right to discard the package.

Do not use Jiffy Padded Mailers with shredded/fiber filling. 

Ship yearbooks to this address —

NSPA Yearbook Pacemaker
2829 University Ave. SE / Suite 720
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Finalists will be announced in February 2025. Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention, April 24-27, 2025, in Seattle.

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. Junior high middle school members do not pay an 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.

NSPA Individual Awards also honor the nation’s best junior high/middle school journalism. There are nine contests in three categories outlined in detail below.


2023 Individual Awards / High School

CLOSED

DEADLINE: June 1, 2023, 5 p.m. CT 

NSPA Individual Awards honor the nation’s best scholastic journalism — in a wide range of categories. The awards are presented to individuals and small teams. There are 45 contests in 11 categories outlined in detail below.

2023 rules & regulations

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

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

The site is open to all NSPA-member media outlets that have paid the 2022-23 Individual Awards Entry fee. 

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.

ENTRY FEE: Participation in the NSPA Individual Awards is $99 in addition to NSPA membership. The 2022-23 Individual Awards Entry fee is available for purchase through the NSPA Store on the NSPA website. Be sure you are purchasing the 2022-23 awards.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Finalists will be announced by September 2023. Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention, Nov. 2-5, 2023, in Boston. NSPA recognizes finalists and winners in its publication and on its websites and social media sites. ACP 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, 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.

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 scholastic 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.


2023 Individual Awards
Junior High-Middle School

CLOSED

DEADLINE: June 12, 2023, 5 p.m. CT 

TO ENTER: Visit the membership portal under the Contests tab.

NSPA Individual Awards honor the nation’s best junior high/middle school  journalism. The awards are presented to individuals and small teams. There are nine contests in three categories —

Design: Literary Arts Magazine, Newspaper/Newsmagazine, Yearbook

Photojournalism: Feature Photo, Sports Photo

Story: Broadcast, Multimedia, News, Feature

2023 rules & regulations

DEADLINE: The website for award submission will be closed at 5 p.m. CT June 12, 2023. The deadline will not be reopened. 

ENTRY FEE: There is no charge for  junior high/middle school NSPA-member media outlets  to participate in the NSPA Junior High-Middle School Individual Awards.  

ONLINE AWARD SUBMISSION: For 2022-23, the BetterBNC portal is not being used for Junior High-Middle School entries. 

ELIGIBILITY: Entries must have been published between June 25, 2022, and June 12, 2023. The contest is open only to junior high/middle school student media with a current NSPA membership as of the contest deadline. Any student on the staff of an NSPA-member junior high/middle school media outlet is eligible to enter. The entry must be published in the NSPA-member student media. 

ANNOUNCEMENT: Finalists will be announced by September 2023. Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention, Nov. 2-5, 2023, 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: Two entries per NSPA-member junior high/middle school 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: Inquiries should be directed to Gary Lundgren, NSPA associate director, at gary@studentpress.org. 

A. Design: Literary Arts Magazine

A single page or spread from a literary arts magazine.

Number of Entries: Two entries per each NSPA-member middle school/junior high literary arts magazine.

Submission: PDF file of printed page(s).

SUBMIT DESIGN ENTRIES
for junior high/middle school

B. Design: Newspaper/Newsmagazine

A single page or spread from a newspaper/newsmagazine. The design may be a front/page cover or inside page/spread.

Number of Entries: Two entries per each NSPA-member middle school/junior high newspaper/newsmagazine.

Submission: PDF file of printed page(s).

SUBMIT DESIGN ENTRIES
for junior high/middle school

C. Design: Yearbook

A spread from a yearbook. The design may be from the theme (opening, dividers, closing) or from sections (chronological, specialty/showstopper, student life, sports, people, groups, advertising, index)

Number of Entries: Two entries per each NSPA-member middle school/junior high yearbook. 

Submission: PDF file of printed spread.

SUBMIT DESIGN ENTRIES
for junior high/middle school

D. Photojournalism: Feature Photo

Delivers a human-interest story with the emphasis on people in action in their environment including student life, academics, clubs/organizations and performing arts. A caption is required.

Number of Entries: Two entries per each NSPA-member middle school/junior high newspaper/newsmagazine, website or yearbook. 

Submission: An image file (JPG, TIF, PNG) is required along with a caption; do not submit URL link or PDF file.

SUBMIT PHOTOJOURNALISM ENTRIES
for junior high/middle school

E. Photojournalism: 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. Images may also communicate a story other than direct action on the playing field including human-interest sports stories such as profiles of sports figures. A caption is required.

Number of Entries: Two entries per each NSPA-member middle school/junior high newspaper/newsmagazine, website or yearbook. 

Submission: An image file (JPG, TIF, PNG) is required along with a caption; do not submit URL link or PDF file.

SUBMIT PHOTOJOURNALISM ENTRIES
for junior high/middle school

F. Story: Broadcast

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

Number of Entries: Two entries per each NSPA-member middle school/junior high broadcast station or website.

SUBMIT STORY ENTRIES
for junior high/middle school

G. Story: Multimedia

News, features or sports stories that demonstrate strong reporting skills and deliver 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 each NSPA-member middle school/junior high website.

Submission: Website URL link.

SUBMIT STORY ENTRIES
for junior high/middle school

H. Story: News

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

Number of Entries: Two entries per each NSPA-member middle school/junior high newspaper/newsmagazine, website or yearbook. 

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

SUBMIT STORY ENTRIES
for junior high/middle school

I. Story: Feature

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

Number of Entries: Two entries per each NSPA-member middle school/junior high newspaper/newsmagazine, website or yearbook. 

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

SUBMIT STORY ENTRIES
for junior high/middle school

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 at right, as well as 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. Best of Show provides no written critiques or scoring rubrics.

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.

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.

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

Contest dates & categories

The fall contest encompasses work published/broadcast from May 4, 2023, to Dec. 13, 2023, in an NSPA-member broadcast, publication or website.

The spring contest encompasses work published/broadcast from Dec. 13, 2023, to May 8, 2024, in an NSPA-member broadcast, publication or website.

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.

Submitting entries

The BetterBNC award platform is used to submit, track and manage Clips & Clicks. Payment for entries using credit card and PayPal is also handled through this site.

Submit entries to the BetterBNC award platform here.

If you have submitted Best of Show or Individual Awards in recent months, you may use your existing Open Call account. If not, creating an open call account is required and takes only a few minutes for one-time setup.

BetterBNC technical support is available at 360-427-6300 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Pacific or email cody@smalltownpapers.com.

2023-24

Fall 2023 results

2022-23

Spring 2023 results
Congratulations to our 2022-23 Sweepstakes winner —
CCNN Live,
Christopher Columbus High School, Miami, Florida

Fall 2022 results

2021-22

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

Fall 2021 results

2020-21

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

Fall 2020 results

The NSPA Leadership Award in Student Journalism 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 Feb. 8, 2024. The form is 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 due March 1, 2024. 

NSPA Leadership Award in Student Journalism

2023

NSPA Leadership Award in Student Journalism Scholarships

2023

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 1, 2024.

Wikoff Scholarship
for Editorial Leadership

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