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SPJ contests add fact-checking, 360 video, data visualization categories


Matthew Kent, Program Coordinator, 317-920-4788, mkent@spj.org
Ashlynn Neumeyer, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785, aneumeyer@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists is making significant additions to its national journalism contests, adding categories for fact-checking, 360 video and data visualization.

All three new categories are now part of the Sigma Delta Chi Awards for professional journalism. The 360 video and data visualization categories are included in the Mark of Excellence Awards for student journalism.

“The changes in both the SDX and Mark of Excellence contests are intended to better reflect the changes in the pursuit of truth and how stories are told,” said Sue Kopen Katcef, chair of SPJ’s Awards and Honors Committee.

SPJ also has new categories to better recognize collaborations, which have become increasingly popular and important.

For the MOE awards, joint work from students at multiple colleges or universities is now eligible. A separate SDX awards category invites entries in which pros and students worked together.

The changes reflect the changing face of journalism and a chance to shine a greater spotlight on exemplary work by individual journalists, teams and newsrooms.

“We are seeing a growing use of data visualization, virtual reality video and partnerships between professional organizations and colleges and universities, as well as partnerships between colleges and universities themselves,” Kopen Katcef said. “The SDX and Mark of Excellence Awards will do a better job of recognizing outstanding work in these areas.”

“Fact-checking has always been inherent in strong journalism, but has emerged as a specialized, critically important approach to journalism on its own,” said Andy Schotz, vice chair of the Awards and Honors Committee.

An additional change this year is how SPJ recognizes the “MOEy” Best in Show award for the top student journalism in the country.

Each year, the MOEy goes to the top entry among all national winners, out of thousands of entries.

SPJ now will announce the MOEy winner in April. The winner will be honored at the SDX Awards banquet at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in June.

“The MOEy honors superior collegiate journalism and will be showcased with many of the nation’s top professional journalists,” Kopen Katcef said.

Past MOEy winners are:

• in 2019: Chris McCrory of Arizona State University for “In a hole: Arizona officials lack funds to find, secure at least 100,000 abandoned mines”

• in 2018: The Diamondback newspaper at the University of Maryland, College Park, for “It’s Real”: a seven-part look at how sexual assault is handled on campus

• in 2017: Marcella Mercer and Calla Kessler of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for “Whiteclay, caring for kids with fetal alcohol disorders”

• in 2016: Capital News Service at the University of Maryland, College Park, for “The Brothel Next Door”

SPJ will also continue to honor the MOEy winner, finalists and all regional Mark of Excellence winners at a special reception at the 2020 Excellence in Journalism conference in Washington, D.C., Sept. 10-12.

Entries for this year’s awards will be accepted beginning Monday. Enter your work in this year’s SDX Awards or MOE Awards.

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