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A free weekly contest for student journalists

Final deadline: Friday, May 8 at 11:59:59 p.m.
Final weekly winners: Announced Tuesday, May 12

Five major organizations — The Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Collegiate Press, the Society for News Design, College Broadcasters, Inc., and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education — have joined forces to recognize college journalists who are admirably covering a pandemic for little or no money while struggling with online classes.

We offer three categories: General Content and Design are judged weekly, while Free Press is awarded whenever good candidates come forward. You can enter one or all three each week. You can even submit the same content in each category, as long as it’s good. (Remember, The CCC Awards cost nothing.)

Just make sure you enter by Friday at 11:59:59 p.m. in your particular time zone. Entries can include anything posted up to that moment and back to Saturday morning.

Weekly winners are featured here and touted in SPJ, ACP, SND, CBI, and FIRE social media and newsletters — a reach of more than 100,000 people.

General Rules

Safety first and always. You're expected to work responsibly and not endanger yourself (and thereby others) by risking exposure. Any submission that appears to violate established safety protocols will be disqualified.

A cover letter is recommended but not required. In 200 words or fewer, explain the challenges you faced in your work. You can type that right into the nomination form. There’s a space at the bottom just for this purpose.

This is a deadline contest. Each Friday's deadline covers work done in a seven-day period ending that Friday. In other words, enter anything posted from the preceding Saturday to that Friday.

Open to all college students. You must be enrolled for the Spring 2020 semester at a public or private 2- or 4-year school.

Submissions must be student-generated. While entries can be published in professional publications or as part of a class, all work must be done only by students and shared publicly.

A maximum of three people can be named in an entry. Otherwise, it must be submitted in the name of the college media outlet.

Accuracy Requirement

Any corrections, clarifications, or retractions issued after posting must be submitted as part of the entry.


General Content Award

We don't distinguish between news and feature, broadcast or written word. Submit up to three posts from the week about COVID-19 that informed your audience of students, faculty, staff, administration, and alumni. This content can include broadcasts and podcasts, news stories and Instagram stories, op-eds and photo galleries. Basically, anything excellent, whatever the delivery method.

All entries are judged by members of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Associated Collegiate Press. Winners also receive a free one-year SPJ membership. If they're already a member, that's extended a year.

Judges will look for:

– Accuracy and completeness
– Enterprise and ingenuity
– Significance and effectiveness
– Clarity and insight
– Creative use of the medium’s unique capabilities
– Adherence to the SPJ Code of Ethics

CCC Design Award

Submit one design of a story, package of stories, or COVID-19 news page. Or you can submit up to three individual infographics, illustrations, and editorial cartoons.

All entries are judged by members of the Society for News Design. In its own contests, SND values “daring and innovative” and chooses each winning entry based on “how well it accomplishes its editorial and design objectives.” They’ll do the same here.

What SND judges will look for in the design and visual information:

– Clarity of message with context and a memorable take-away
– Sophistication in typography, color, and spacing
– A strong marriage of words and image
– Hierarchy: arranging elements in a way that implies importance
– Good use of photographs, charts, or illustration
– Effectively layered information in pullouts, quotes, and captions

Weekly winners will receive a one-year SND membership. If they're already a member, that's extended a year.

CCC Free Press Award

Submit a short letter describing how you or someone else has defended the rights of students to report during the COVID-19 crisis. This can include:

– Braving condemnation from university or student government officials to report the truth
– Asserting the right to public records related to the pandemic’s effects on campus, or despite agencies using COVID-19 as a basis to stall production
– Asserting the right to open meetings and journalistic access in the wake of the pandemic
– Persevering through lack of college support or transparency
– Battling against budget cuts to student media outlets resulting from COVID-19
– Making the case that student media is essential in a time of crisis

You can also include up to three URLs that feature coverage of, or opinions on, pandemic-related free press issues.

All entries are judged by SPJ and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending student and faculty expressive rights on campuses nationwide. Winners are chosen on a rolling basis, whenever excellent candidates come forward. Winners receive $100 cash and a free year of SPJ membership.

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Anyone can nominate an entry — the author, an impressed reader, even the author’s mom. It costs nothing to submit a nomination.

The number of times an entry is nominated means nothing. In fact, we won’t tell the judges how often an entry was nominated. So no need to stuff the ballot box.

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