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Awards & Honors Committee

Andy Schotz, chair
Bio (click to expand) picture Andy Schotz was a city editor for The Frederick News-Post in Frederick, Md., for about 19 months until he was laid off on April 17, 2017.

He has been an SPJ member since 2002 and has held various positions on the Washington, D.C., Pro chapter board, including three consecutive one-year terms as president.

He served on the SPJ Ethics Committee from 2004 to 2011, including three years as chairman.

Schotz ran unsuccessfully for at-large director on the national SPJ board in 2012. The following year, he ran unopposed for Region 2 director.

He is a frequent SPJ contest judge (D.C. Pro Dateline Awards, SDX, Mark of Excellence, Green Eyeshade, high school essay) and has twice coordinated Region 2's Mark of Excellence contest.

He joined the SPJ Awards & Honors Committee in 2013 and helped work on a national survey seeking feedback about the MOE contest. He is currently the committee's chairman.

Before joining The Frederick News-Post in 2015, he was an editor at The Gazette, a chain of weekly papers, in Montgomery County, Md. He was there for almost 2 1/2 years before The Gazette folded in June 2015.

Schotz worked for eight years as a reporter and editor at The Altamont Enterprise, a weekly paper in upstate New York, then 13 years as a reporter for The Herald-Mail, a daily paper in Hagerstown, Md.

He is on the board of directors of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.

Entry Deadline:
February 19, 2018
Entries accepted beginning November 6, 2017

Enter online

Late entries notice: Late entries will be accepted between now and 11:59 p.m. ET on February 26. Late nominations will cost $85 each for members and $120 each for non-members.

Join us in D.C.!

The Society of Professional Journalists cordially invites you to attend the Sigma Delta Chi Awards Reception on June 8 in Washington, D.C. Get tickets and find additional details here.

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.

General Rules
Helpful Hints
Entry Requirements
Judging Criteria
Public Service Categories
Category-specific Rules

General Rules

— The contest is open to any work published or broadcast by a U.S. or international media outlet. Freelance work is eligible. Entries must have been published or broadcast during 2017.
— 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 entries in the Research about Journalism category may be mailed in. Those entries must be postmarked by Feb. 19, 2018. Be sure to check the box saying that you are mailing your entry in. All other entries in all other categories must be uploaded to the online awards site. If an entry is mailed to SPJ Headquarters and it is not for the Research about Journalism category, it will be disqualified.
— Each entry may be submitted in only one category. However, photos, graphics and video entered as part of a writing award also may be submitted in a visual category.
— Entrants may enter as many categories as desired.
— Entrants in all online categories should keep their sites intact and accessible until September 30, 2018.
— Divisions (based on circulation or market size) within a category might be combined, depending on the number of entries.
— 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 can consist of a PDF or Word document (limit five pages, combined into one document if possible) or up to 30 minutes of video.
— If a small-market/circulation news organization collaborates with a large-market/circulation news organization, the entry belongs in a large-market/circulation category.
— Scripts for broadcast entries are optional, but recommended.


Helpful Hints

— 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 five pages per entry. Combine PDFs into one file, if possible.
— Many categories are based on market size or circulation. Entries not submitted in the correct category will be disqualified.
— In the Radio/TV categories, all edits/segments should be made explicit, through use of silence, beeps or some other fully transparent mechanism.


Entry Requirements

Entry Fee

Not an SPJ member? Now's the perfect time to join. Join today and save 40 percent on your entry fee.

— SPJ members (on or before deadline): $60 per entry
— SPJ members (after deadline): $85 per entry
— Non-members (at or before deadline): $100 per entry
— Non-members (after deadline): $120 per entry

— 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.

Cover Letter

— 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.

Accuracy Requirement

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 report’s 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

Only entries in the Research about Journalism category may be mailed in. Those entries must be postmarked by Feb. 19, 2018. Be sure to check the box saying that you are mailing your entry in. All other entries in all other categories must be uploaded to the online awards site. If an entry is mailed to SPJ Headquarters and it is not for the Research about Journalism category, 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., Suite 200
Indianapolis, IN 46208


Judging Criteria

— Materials will be judged by a panel of 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.
— Authorities are “Editor and Publisher Yearbook” for circulation, “Nielsen Audio” for radio market size and “Broadcasting and Cable Marketplace” for television market size. Nationally syndicated cable television programs are classified as networks. Newspaper circulation is defined as Sunday circulation, if applicable. Otherwise, it’s average daily circulation.

Entries will be judged on the following criteria:
— Readability
— Effectiveness of interpretation
— Accuracy and completeness
— Enterprise
— Clarity and Style
— Resourcefulness of the reporter in overcoming obstacles
— Interest
— 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.


Category-specific Rules

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 must be limited to five pages.
— Daily publications must be printed at least four times per week.

Art/Graphics Entries
— For photographs published in a newspaper or 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.
— It’s optional to submit the actual digital/cartoon/graphic for clearer viewing.

Radio Entries
— Entries may be edited for length.
— 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 Nielsen Audio Market Survey [click to view; opens in new window]

Television Entries
— 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]
— Supporting material must be limited to 30 minutes of video.
See market size breakdown [PDF; opens in new window]

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]

Online Entries
— Entries that do not provide complete and accurate URLs will be disqualified.
— Entrants must keep their entries intact and accessible until September 30, 2018.
— Judging will take place February-April 2018. 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.


Awards Presentation

Winners will be announced in May 2018. The awards reception will take place at the National Press Club in June 2018.

Due to the volume of entries received, only those who are awarded will be contacted with results.


For more information, contact SPJ Headquarters via email.