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SPJ Increases Online Categories in Journalism Awards Contests


ATTENTION:News editors, Online editors, Photo editors, Assignment desks

Al Cross, SPJ President, 502/875-5136 ext. 14 or across@spj.org
Guy Baehr, Chairman of the SPJ Awards Committee, gtb123@home.com
Bobby Deckard, SPJ Awards Coordinator, 317/927-8000 or bdeckard@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists has increased the number of online categories in its Sigma Delta Chi Awards and Mark of Excellence Awards contests from four to 18 to better reflect the growing importance of today’s online news industry.

The SPJ board of directors agreed earlier this year to increase online categories in the SDX Awards program for professional journalists from three to eight. Online categories in the Mark of Excellence Awards program for student journalists increased from one to 10. Entry forms for both awards programs are now available at SPJ Headquarters and on SPJ’s Web site, www.spj.org.

“As online journalism becomes a more important part of our craft, it should become a more important part of SPJ’s awards programs,” said SPJ President Al Cross, political reporter and columnist for The Courier-Journal in Louisville. “As with all our awards, we hope this expansion will promote excellence in online journalism.”

In the SDX Awards contest, half of the online categories are for stand-alone online publications that operate independently of other media and half for online publications that are owned by or partnered with other media, such as newspapers, broadcast stations or magazines. In addition, all six of the contest’s photography, art and graphics categories now are open to work published on the Web. This includes the contest’s informational graphics and editorial cartooning categories as well as the four photography categories of features, news, photo illustration (new this year) and sports photography (new this year).

In the MOE Awards competition, six of the categories are for individual stories or packages and four are for best overall online publication or broadcast station. Most categories are open to both independent and affiliated online publications.

The Society’s Awards and Honors Committee recommended the changes. Guy Baehr, committee chairman, said expanding the contests to put online journalism on the same level with more established media is important to the goal of the contests, which is to recognize and encourage good journalism in all media.

“The history of SPJ is that it has embraced each new medium used by journalists as it has appeared on the scene,” Baehr said. “The SDX contest, the oldest professional journalism awards program after the Pulitzer Prizes, started out as a newspapers-only contest when it was established more than 60 years ago, but it added radio and later television news as they became established. SPJ was one of the first major journalism organizations to add any online categories to its contest when it did so in 1997.”

“Moving now to put online journalism on par with other news media only makes sense,” Baehr added. “Online publications have been hurt by the dot-com bust and more recent loss of advertising revenue, but it is clear that online journalism is here to stay and will be an even greater force in the future.”

The Society’s first national awards honoring excellence in journalism were presented in 1932 to six individuals for contributing to “the dignity and responsibility to the profession of journalism.” In 1939, Sigma Delta Chi, forerunner of SPJ, established the first Distinguished Service Awards competition. These awards later became the Sigma Delta Chi Awards for Excellence in Journalism. The Society first presented the Mark of Excellence Awards recognizing outstanding student journalists in 1972. The SDX Awards first added an online category in 1997, and the MOE Awards introduced an online category in 1998.

Copies of the rules, categories and entry forms for the SDX or MOE awards contests can be obtained online at http://www.spj.org/awards_sdx.asp and http://www.spj.org/awards_moe.asp or by contacting SPJ Awards Coordinator Bobby Deckard at 317/927-8000 or bdeckard@spj.org. Postmark deadlines for entries in the contests are Jan. 21, 2002, for the MOE Awards and Feb. 11, 2002, for the SDX Awards.

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. The organization is the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.


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