Rules/EligibilityCategories
2020 HonoreesPrevious Honorees
Rules/EligibilityCategories 2020 HonoreesPrevious Honorees
Watch the Awards Video Presentation
You can watch the video 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/online, audio, television, and more.

And for the first time this year, we are excited to announce the addition of Spanish-language awards in seven categories.


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


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 2021.
– 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.
All entries in all categories must be uploaded to the online awards site. If an entry is mailed to SPJ Headquarters, it will be disqualified.
– Entrants in all online categories should keep their sites intact and accessible until September 30, 2022.
– Divisions within a category might be combined during judging, 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 10 minutes of video.
– If a State/Local news organization collaborates with a National/Network news organization, the entry belongs in a National/Network category.
– Scripts for broadcast entries are optional, but recommended.
– Each entry may be submitted in only one category. However, visuals, graphics and video entered as part of a writing award also may be submitted in a visual category. Visual categories include:
        • All Photography categories
        • All Videography categories
        • Photo Illustration
        • Editorial Cartooning

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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.
– Some categories are based on National/Network and State/Local.. Entries not submitted in the correct category will be disqualified. Entry fees are not refundable.
– In the Audio/TV categories, all edits/segments should be made explicit, through use of silence, beeps or some other fully transparent mechanism.
– Print circulation distinctions for newspapers and magazines are to be based on non-Sunday, single issue distribution. If submitting for a weekly, monthly, or Sunday-only publication, provide single-issue circulation details in the cover letter.

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Entry Requirements

Entry Fee

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– SPJ members (on or before deadline): $60 per entry
– Non-members (at or before deadline): $100 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.
– Include print circulation information. Print circulation distinctions for newspapers and magazines are to be based on non-Sunday, single issue distribution. If submitting for a weekly, monthly, or Sunday-only publication, provide single-issue circulation details in the cover letter.

Divisions

– For the first time this year, National/Network and State/Local will replace circulation/market size in some, not all, categories. Each entry in these categories must be accompanied by a statement of the news organization’s coverage area and print circulation. The name and title of the person submitting must be legible. No entry for a divided category will be accepted without a statement of coverage area.
– Nationally syndicated cable television programs are classified as networks.
– National/Network and State/Local classifications are based on primary coverage.

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 must also be included.

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Judging Criteria

– Materials will be judged by a panel of professional journalists and/or journalism educators. 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 in that category..
– 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. National/Network and State/Local classifications are based on primary coverage.
– Each TV or Audio entry must be accompanied by a signed statement of the news organization’s primary coverage. Each print entry must be accompanied by a signed statement of the news organization’s primary coverage as well.

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

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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.

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Category-specific Rules

See a list of categories

Print/Online Entries (Newspaper and Magazine Categories)

– Entrants should submit a link to the online article or a PDF of the page on which the story appeared. The date of publication should be visible. Online entries that do not provide complete and accurate URLs will be disqualified.
– 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 and available by delivery, newsstands and/or vending machines. Otherwise, they are considered Non-Daily.
– Entrants must keep their entries intact and accessible until September 30, 2022.
– Judging will take place February-April 2022. 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.
– Newsletter entrants should submit a PDF of the newsletter, or a link to the site where the newsletter is published online.
– Reviews and critical pieces should not be submitted in the new Arts/Fashion Journalism category. Instead, submit those to Cultural Criticism.

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 in print, 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]
– Radio entries should upload all audio files in .mp3 (preferred), .wav or .aiff format. Audio in other formats will not be accepted. Podcast entrants should upload the work to an online audio or video site and submit the URL (preferred) or upload the file(s) to the awards site [50 MB file limit]. Files must be in one of the following formats: .mp3, .wav, .aiff, .wmv, .mov, .mpeg or .mp4.
– National/Network and State/Local classifications are based on primary coverage. Market size based on Nielsen Audio Market PDF [click to view; opens in new window]
– Podcast entries must be no more than 30 minutes long and may be edited for length. Entrants may submit up to two files, not to exceed 15 minutes each.

Television Entries

– Entries may be edited for length.
– Work aired on an internet TV station 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 10 minutes of video.
See market size breakdown [PDF; opens in new window]

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Awards Presentation

Winners are scheduled to be announced in June 2022. Details on the awards reception's format and venue will be announced as soon as they are confirmed.

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

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For more information, contact SPJ Headquarters via email.