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HomeBlogNominate an entry Previous WinnersCategories JudgingContact
After two years of the Kunkel Awards, we’re back for more.

Check back soon to see the winners of the 2017 awards.

To learn how winners will be chosen, see our judging section, and check updates on our blog.

Since this is only the third time we've hosted Kunkel Awards, there are sure to be questions. If you have one or five, contact us. We’ll do our best to clarify and accommodate.


Who is Bill Kunkel?

Bill Kunkel “helped invent video game journalism,” The New York Times declared in Kunkel’s 2011 obituary. He co-published the first gaming column in 1978 and co-founded the first gaming magazine, Electronic Games, in 1981. His family has gratefully lent his name to these awards.


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Categories

SPJ intentionally limited the number and scope of the categories. The goal: Encourage ethical and balanced news reporting of a fast-growing industry with millions of customers.

Excellence in News Reporting

One story, or up to three stories on a single topic. News can be breaking (reporting on something that just happened), in-depth (studying a topic by surveying all sides), or investigative (digging into a topic by uncovering previously unknown facts). No one kind is considered superior by the judges.

Excellence in Feature Writing

One story, or up to three stories on a single topic. A feature can be a profile (an in-depth look at one person), a Q&A (a verbatim interview with one person), or a color piece (a descriptive put-you-there story).

Excellence in News Video/Streaming

One recording of no more than one hour. See description above. Can be edited down from a longer stream. As with written submissions, judges expect multi-sourcing (see judging criteria).

Excellence in Feature Video/Streaming

One recording of no more than one hour. See description above. Can be edited down from a longer stream. As with written submissions, judges expect multi-sourcing (see judging criteria).

Excellence in College Gaming Journalism

Best single story or video, either news or feature. We want to encourage the next generation of gaming journalists to surpass their elders. So we recognize one story or video that excels in writing and reporting. Must be enrolled in a two-year, four-year, or private college or university at the time of publication.

Excellence in eSports Writing

One written story, either news or feature. eSports are a growing phenomena making its way up to top channels like ESPN — it's time to take competitive gaming stories as seriously as NFL coverage. Submissions can be tournament- or community-based.


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Nominations

The Kunkel Awards are a People’s Choice hybrid: The public nominates the entries, but SPJ’s judges choose the winners.

Anyone can nominate an entry — the author, an impressed reader, even the author’s mom. It costs nothing to submit a nomination, and you can do so anonymously if you’re paranoid or wanted by the law.

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.

Nomination rules

— Entries must have been published or posted in the 2017 calendar year.

— Entries can be from anywhere. We don’t care if they’re from a national website or a personal blog. They just have to be ethical and excellent.

— You don’t need permission from the author or the media outlet. If they win and get mad about it, we’ll deal with them.

— All entries must be in English or have translation available. Sorry for being ethnocentric.


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Judging

All judges are professional journalists working both in and out of the gaming press, but with varying degrees of knowledge about it. Judges will write comments about the winners, which will be posted when the winners are announced.

The judging criteria:

Accuracy

Don’t trust, verify. This covers everything from spelling names correctly to ensuring all claims are indeed facts — and if you can’t verify those facts, admitting as much to your readers, so they can draw their own conclusions.

Balance

Give all sides their say. It’s called multi-sourcing. No award-winning report has just one source. Talking to all sides doesn’t mean giving them all equal space. It simply means giving them all a fair chance to explain their positions.

Clarity

Explaining isn’t easy. The hardest part of journalism (or anything) is describing complex or technical concepts in plain English. That means no jargon readers won’t grasp. It also means weaving background into the story without bogging it down.

Verve

Journalism isn’t supposed to be boring. You can be accurate, balanced, and clear — and no one will read or listen if you’re dull and stuffy. You need a conversational or even witty writing/speaking style to hold your audience’s attention.

SPJ Code of Ethics

Last on the list is first for the judges. If you can’t apply the principles of the SPJ Code of Ethics that all good journalists do — hell, even the slimeballs who ignore it know about it — then nothing else above matters.


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Contact us

Brittany Ferrendi is director of the Kunkel Awards (but not a judge). If you have questions or comments, reach her here.