The Society of Professional Journalists is proud to announce the recipients of the 2012 Sigma Delta Chi Awards for excellence in journalism. Judges chose the winners from over 1,700 entries in categories covering print, radio, television and online. The awards recognize outstanding work published or broadcast in 2012. Click here to see a list of winners and view their work.
The Sigma Delta Chi Awards date back to 1932, when the Society first honored six individuals for contributions to journalism. The current program began in 1939, when the organization awarded the first Distinguished Service Awards. These awards later became the Sigma Delta Chi Awards.
The awards recognize the best in professional journalism in categories covering print, radio, television, newsletters, art/graphics, online and research. The contest is open to any U.S. media outlet.
Download printable version [PDF, 140 KB]
Entries must have been published or broadcast during 2012.
The contest is open to any work published or broadcast by U.S. media outlets or international SPJ members.
Every entry must be accompanied by a cover letter.
If not originally published or broadcast in English, entries must include an English transcript or English subtitles.
Only select categories can be mailed in. Those entries must be postmarked by Feb. 7, 2013.
Categories with a mail-in option: Radio Documentaries, Television Documentaries, Public Service in Television Journalism and Research about Journalism. Be sure to check the box saying that you are mailing your entry in. Entries in all other categories should be uploaded to the online awards site. If an entry is mailed to SPJ Headquarters and it is not for one of the categories listed above, it will be disqualified.
Each entry may be submitted in only one category.
Entrants may enter as many categories as desired.
DVDs only will be accepted in the television categories that have a mail in option. DVDs should be labeled with the name of the entry, media outlet and entrants names.
CD-ROMs only will be accepted in Radio Documentary category. CDs should be labeled with the name of the entry, media outlet and entrants names.
Entrants in all online categories should keep their nominated sites intact and accessible until September 30, 2013.
Up to four (4) individuals may be named on a team entry, otherwise the entry must be made in the name of the staff of the publication or station.
No part of any entry will be returned. SPJ reserves the right to use any part or the whole of any entry for publicity or educational purposes.
Supporting materials should be limited to 10 pages [PDF or Word document] per entry. Combine PDFs into one file, if possible.
Let your cover letter speak for you. Explain why you believe your entry is the finest example
of journalism in its category.
Sidebars, editorials, op-ed pieces and letters-to-the-editor may be included as supporting material but must be limited to 10 pages per entry. Combine PDFs into one file, if possible.
Many categories are based on market size or circulation. Please make sure your entry is submitted in the correct category.
In the Radio/TV categories, all edits/segments should be made explicit, through use of silence, beeps or some other fully transparent mechanism.
Include fee of $60 per entry for SPJ members or $100 per entry for nonmembers. To claim the $60 member fee, you must supply your personal SPJ member number. A team entry may claim the $60 fee if at least one member of the team is a member of SPJ. You must provide the member's name and SPJ member number.
SPJ accepts credit card payments from Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
Make checks payable to Society of Professional Journalists.
No refunds issued.
Please note: SPJ does not have institutional memberships for professional organizations where one membership number would cover all entries from that organization.
A one-page cover letter with the following information is required for all entries. Letter should include:
A summary of the story or stories.
A discussion of major findings and subsequent results.
A review of the process followed to get the story, including information about the circumstances that prompted the story; the length of time taken to report, write, and edit; and sources and references used.
An account of the difficulty or uniqueness of effort in obtaining the story.
*Adapt content as needed for editorial and art/graphic categories.
Any corrections, clarifications or retractions made after initial publishing or broadcast must be submitted as part of the entry. Also, copies of any written challenges to the reports accuracy sent to the entrant or the news organization by or on behalf of those mentioned including but not limited to letters, e-mails or legal papers must be included with the entry. Any responses by the news organization should also be included.
Mailing Your Entry
Categories with a mail-in option: Radio Documentaries, Television Documentaries, Public Service in Television Journalism and Research about Journalism. Be sure to check the box saying that you are mailing your entry in.
Entries in all other categories should be uploaded to the online awards site. If an entry is mailed to SPJ Headquarters and it is not for one of the categories listed above, it will be disqualified.
All mailed entries should include a copy of the online award confirmation. To print your award confirmation:
1. Complete the payment and checkout process.
2. Click on the Your SDX Award Entries tab and select the entry you will mail in.
3. Print out the confirmation page to submit with your entry.
Mail entry and online confirmation form to:
Sigma Delta Chi Awards
Society of Professional Journalists
3909 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
Mail-in option applies to select categories only. Postmark deadline: Feb. 7, 2013.
Materials will be judged by distinguished, veteran journalists. All decisions are final except that the Board of Directors of SPJ may decide not to make an award in a particular category if doing so would compromise the award program.
One award is issued in each category; no ties or honorable mentions are awarded.
An award may be withheld if the judges decide no entry merits recognition.
The authority for circulation is Editor and Publisher Yearbook, for radio market size, Arbitron Radio and for television market size, Broadcasting and Cable Marketplace. Nationally syndicated cable television programs are classified as networks. Newspaper circulation is defined as average daily circulation.
Entries will be judged on the following criteria:
Effectiveness of interpretation
Accuracy and completeness
Clarity and Style
Resourcefulness of the reporter in overcoming obstacles
Adherence to the SPJ Code of Ethics
Public Service Categories
In addition to the listed criteria, entries in the public service categories will be judged on the significance of the service rendered. Judges will look for evidence of courage and initiative in overcoming opposition; effectiveness of the presentation; and results obtained, such as changes and reforms effected or pledged.
See a list of categories
Print Entries (Newspaper and Magazine Categories)
Entrants should submit a link to the online article or a PDF of the newspaper/magazine page on which the story appeared. The date of publication should be visible.
PDFs should have the same name as the title of the story.
PDFs should be combined into one file, when possible. The cover letter and supporting material should be separated from the main entry.
Word documents containing the work will not be accepted.
Supporting material should be limited to 10 pages.
Daily publications must be printed at least four times per week.
For photographs published in a newspaper, magazine or on an online news site.
Entrant should submit a PDF of the news/magazine page on which the art appeared, or a link to the art published on an online news site. The date of publication should be visible.
Submitting the actual digital photo/cartoon/graphic for clearer viewing optional.
Entries may be edited for length.
Work aired on an online radio station or by Podcast is eligible.
A script or transcript with lead-in is strongly recommended, but not required.
Entrant should submit a link to the work online or upload an audio file to the awards site. [50 MB file limit]
All audio files must be .mp3 (preferred), .wav or .aiff format. Audio in other formats will not be accepted.
Work aired on an online radio station or by podcast should be entered in the Online Digital Audio category.
Market size based on Arbitron Radio market breakdown [click to view; opens in new window]
Mail-in instructions for Radio Documentaries category: Entrant MUST fill out entry form on the awards site, print out the confirmation form and include it with the submitted CD-ROM. Label CD with the name of the entry, category, media organization and entrants. Submit CD in a protective case. Series or entries with multiple newscasts should be entered on one or two CDs. [How to print your confirmation form]
Entries may be edited for length.
Work aired on an Internet TV station or by Podcast should be entered in the Online Digital Video category.
A script or transcript with lead-in is strongly recommended, but not required.
Entrant should upload the work to an online video site and submit the URL (preferred), or upload a video file to the awards site. [50 MB file limit]
See market size breakdown [PDF; opens in new window]
Mail-in instructions for Television Documentaries and Television Public Service categories: Entrant MUST fill out entry form on the awards site, print out the confirmation form and include it with the submitted DVD. Label DVD with the name of the entry, category, media organization and entrants. Submit DVD in a protective case. Entry should be submitted on one DVD. Videocassettes will not be accepted. [How to print your confirmation form]
Entrant should submit a PDF of the newsletter, or a link to the site where the newsletter is published online.
Entries must be mailed/shipped to SPJ Headquarters. No electronic entries will be accepted in this category. Entrant MUST fill out entry form on the awards site, print out the confirmation form and include it with the entry. Please submit THREE copies of each entry (including the confirmation form). [How to print your confirmation form]
Entries that do not provide complete and accurate URLs will be disqualified.
Entrants must keep their nominated entries intact and accessible until September 30, 2013.
Judging will take place February-April 2013. The Specialized Journalism Site category will be judged on content as presented during this time span.
Affiliated online publications are those owned by or partnered with media organizations whose primary outlets are not based on the Web, such as broadcast stations, newspapers or magazines.
Independent online publications are stand-alone sites not owned or partnered with print or broadcast media organizations.
Winners will be announced in May 2013. The awards banquet will take place at the National Press Club on June 21, 2013.
Due to the volume of entries received, only those who are awarded will be contacted with results.
For more information contact SPJ Headquarters at 317/927-8000 or via e-mail.