2021 Page One Awards — Now Accepting Entries!

The Minnesota Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (MNSPJ) recognizes the best in Minnesota journalism each year with its annual Page One Awards.

Contest entries can be submitted between now and Monday, Feb. 8. Finalists will be notified in the spring, with winners named at the annual Page One Awards ceremony later this year.

Contest categories and rules are largely the same as last year, with only a few minor changes. We have made changes to the contest submission form, so that categories appear only after entrants select the tier in which they want to compete (Newspaper, Magazine, Radio, Television, Photography or Online). Also, entrants are asked to select their news outlet from a drop down menu. If a news outlet is not listed, please select “Other” — the last option — and then enter the organization’s name.

Once again, MNSPJ has elected to hold the price of a contest entry steady at $22.

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Journalists working for all print, broadcast and online news outlets in Minnesota (or news outlets in neighboring states that cover Minnesota) are eligible to enter. All work published or broadcast during the 2019 calendar year is eligible. Entries must be submitted by Monday, Feb. 8. 

The format for the awards ceremony will be announced later.

Important Links:

Please contact MNSPJ with any questions: minnesota.spj@gmail.com

2021 Page One Award Contest Rules

GENERAL GUIDELINES

  • The fee is $22 per entry.
  • Entries must be submitted no later than midnight, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.
  • All work published or broadcast during the 2020 calendar year is eligible.
  • Journalists (including freelancers and contract employees) working for all print, broadcast and online news outlets in Minnesota (or news outlets in neighboring states that cover Minnesota) are eligible to enter.
  • An individual may submit only one entry per category. Exceptions: 1) if a second entry is a multiple-byline entry; or 2) if it is submitted by his/her employer because they could not agree on a single entry. 
  • An individual may enter in a tier above their news outlet’s division (circulation/employee count), but then may not also enter their own division.
  • Entries will be judged by journalism professionals outside Minnesota.
  • Judges and/or contest organizers may move an entry from one category to another.
  • Up to three winners may be chosen for each category. Judges may choose not to name a winner in any category.
  • Entries will not be returned.
  • Awards Presentation: Winners will be announced in the spring/summer of 2020 and honored during MNSPJ’s annual Page One Awards Banquet. Date and location, TBD.

SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

  • NEWSPAPER, ONLINE & PHOTOGRAPHY ENTRIES must be submitted online.
  • FOR PRINT ENTRIES (Newspaper and Magazine): Entrants should submit a link to the online article or a PDF of the news/magazine page on which the story appeared. The date of publication should be visible.
  • FOR NEWSPAPER AND MAGAZINE “BEST ISSUE” CATEGORIES: entries may be submitted by mail. TWO COPIES of each issue must be submitted in an 8 1/2-by-11-inch folder or envelope. Please write category name on outside of folder.
  • FOR GRAPHICS/PHOTOGRAPHY CATEGORIES: Entrants should submit a PDF of the news/magazine page on which the art appeared, or a link to the art published on an online news site. The date of publication should be visible.
  • FOR TV ENTRIES: Entrants should submit a URL where video can be viewed (preferred) or entries may be submitted on a DVD (please include TWO COPIES).
  • FOR RADIO ENTRIES: Entrants should submit a link to the work online (preferred) or entries may be submitted by mail on a CD (please include TWO COPIES).
  • LINKS or PDFs: The contest entry form provides space for up to three links and three PDF attachments. Please contact MNSPJ if you are having trouble fitting entries into these spaces.

CLICK HERE to access the contest submission form

2021 Page One Award Categories

1. NEWSPAPER/NEWS WRITING

aBreaking News Coverage (Up to three stories showing excellence in coverage of a single news event that’s breaking/was not expected. Examples include but aren’t limited to crime stories, public safety emergencies, deaths/resignations involving prominent news figures and sudden layoffs/shutdowns. The goal is to showcase depth of coverage from a journalist or journalists working on a tight deadline on news that was not expected. Entries should be focused on first day coverage and quick follow-ups. Note: Coverage related to the George Floyd killing likely would fall under Breaking News rather than Deadline News)

b. Deadline News Coverage (Up to three stories showing excellence in coverage of a single news event where journalists could plan for the event without knowing the news. Examples include but aren’t limited to election results, court cases, study/data releases and debates at the Legislature, city/county council or school board. The goal is to showcase coverage from a journalist or journalists that’s distinguished by smart context and/or unique explanatory approaches while fairly representing a variety of perspectives. Entries should be focused on first day coverage and quick follow-ups. Note: Coverage related to COVID-19 likely would fall under Deadline News rather than Breaking News)

c. Feature Writing (Up to three stories showing one feature writer’s ability to command attention through profiles or trend pieces with unique characters, rich scenes and/or unexpected angles.)

d. Enterprise/In-Depth Story (One story that reflects a journalist’s or team of journalists’ ingenuity, use of sources and/or special research to dig deeper and/or capture more complexity than a typical news story.)

e. Enterprise/In-Depth Series (Up to three stories that reflect a journalist’s or team of journalists’ ingenuity, use of sources and/or special research to dig deeper and/or capture more complexity than a typical news story.)

f. Investigative (Up to three stories on a single topic or news event containing information not readily available to the news media or public and obtained through reporter initiative)

g. Business News Coverage (Up to three distinct stories, or a series of up to three stories, that’s focused on business-related news)

h. Sports News Coverage (Up to three distinct stories, or a series of up to three stories, on sports-related news)

i. Sports Feature Writing (Up to three stories showing one feature writer’s ability to command attention to subjects in professional and amateur sports through profiles or trend pieces with unique characters, rich scenes and/or unexpected angles)

j. Sports Columns (Up to three columns by one writer whose work regularly appears in the sports section)

k. Arts & Entertainment Coverage (Up to three distinct stories, or a series of up to three stories focusing on arts & entertainment-related news)

l. Arts Criticism/Reviews (Up to three stories that illustrate a journalist’s competence in criticizing or reviewing performance, musical groups, restaurants or other similar entities/events)

m. Columns (Up to three columns by one writer written for any section, but not the op-ed page)

n. Editorials and Commentary (Up to three single editorials and/or commentary pieces or columns published on the op-ed page)

o. Graphics/Art and illustration (Up to three examples of original artwork, graphs, diagrams, maps or other visual elements that illustrate a story)

p. Page Design (A single page design: taking into account layout and page composition, use of headlines, art, graphics etc.)

q. Headlines (A collection of up to three headlines, submitted along with the accompanying stories)

r. Best issue (Based on reporting, writing, photography, graphics/illustration, layout, copy-handling, etc.)

2. MAGAZINE

a. Best Profile Story (A single profile story)

b. Best Feature Story (A single feature story)

c. Best Department (A magazine component appearing under the same heading and possibly, but not always, written by different writers); send 3 unique examples

d. Best Column (A magazine component appearing under the same heading and always written by the same author); send 3 unique examples

e. Best Cover (A single magazine cover)

f. Best Page Design (A full story or feature layout, single page, two-page or double-truck design)

g. Graphics/Art and illustration (Up to three examples of original artwork, graphs, diagrams, maps or other visual elements that illustrate a story)

h. Best issue (Based on writing, photography, graphics/illustration, layout)

3. TELEVISION

a. Spot/Breaking news (coverage of an unscheduled event broadcast within 24 hours; may be a single story or compilation of coverage on a single event)

b. Hard News report (best coverage of a news-related topic; may include in-depth, planned coverage of a single event, or enterprise reporting)

c. Feature (single story done for some other factor than timeliness – may include profile, human interest, or trend stories)

d. Special Project/In-Depth series (a single report or series of reports going in-depth on a particular subject, helping the viewer understand a situation beyond information in a typical news story)

e. Investigative (One or more stories containing information not readily available to the news media or public and obtained through reporter initiative)

f. Newscast (One regularly-scheduled newscast airing on any day in the contest year. The entry should represent the station’s best work in news content, execution, and overall presentation)

g.  Sports News Coverage (Up to three distinct stories, or a series of up to three stories, that’s focused on sports-related news.) 

4. RADIO

a. Spot/Breaking news (coverage of an unscheduled event broadcast within 24 hours; may be a single story or compilation of coverage on a single event)

b. Hard News report (best coverage of a news-related topic; may include in-depth, planned coverage of a single event, or enterprise reporting)

c. Feature (single story done for some other factor than timeliness–may include profile, human interest, or trend stories)

d. Special Project/In-Depth series (a single report or series of reports going in-depth on a particular subject, helping the viewer understand a situation beyond information in a typical news story)

e. Investigative (One or more stories containing information not readily available to the news media or public and obtained through reporter initiative)

f. Newscast (One regularly-scheduled newscast airing on any day in the contest year. The entry should represent the station’s best work in news content, execution, and overall presentation)

g. Sports News Coverage (Up to three distinct stories, or a series of up to three stories, that’s focused on sports-related news)

5. ONLINE

a. Best Website (Best use of a website for providing news to an online audience. Judges will look at areas such as ease of navigation, creative design concepts, good organization and degree to which online resources enhance reporting.)

b. Best single news story (Best online coverage of a single news story or event)

c. Best continuing coverage (Two or more online reports demonstrating ongoing coverage of a news event; including original or web-only content)

d. Best single feature story/package (Best online presentation of a single feature story, with emphasis on how online attributes enhance storytelling. Arts & Entertainment coverage is eligible) 

e. Best single sports story/package (Best online presentation of a single sports story, with emphasis on how online attributes enhance storytelling) 

f. Best use of multimedia (Demonstrates outstanding use of photos, galleries, video and/or audio to enhance original story)

g. Best social media account – Individual (For a social media account on any platform run by one journalist that best demonstrates an understanding of audience, an appreciation for the strengths and weaknesses of the platform, while showing a commitment to innovation and an adherence to SPJ’s Code of Ethics)

h. Best social media account – Institutional (For a social media account run by multiple journalists that best demonstrates an understanding of audience, an appreciation for the strengths and weaknesses of the platform, while showing a commitment to innovation and an adherence to SPJ’s Code of Ethics)

i. Best news video (Single video, or series of videos on the same subject, produced to appear online-only)

j. Best newsroom blog (submit URL for blog, judged on overall excellence in news coverage, affiliated with a newspaper, magazine, TV or radio station)

k. Best independent news blog (submit URL for blog, judged on overall excellence in news coverage, not affiliated with a newspaper, magazine, TV or radio station)

l. Best infographic/data visualization (Outstanding data presentation that showcases unique online capabilities) 

6. PHOTOGRAPHY

The collection of photos must come from the same photographer.

a. Best News Photography (Best use of photography in news stories. Submit a collection of up to three (3) news photos from the same photographer.)

b. Best Feature Photography (Best use of photography in feature stories. Submit a collection of up to three (3) feature photos from the same photographer.)

c. Best Portrait Photography (Best use of portrait photography. Submit a collection of up to three (3) portrait photos from the same photographer.)

d. Best Sports Photography (Best use of photography in sports stories. Submit a collection of up to three (3) sports photos from the same photographer.)

7. SPECIAL AWARDS

a. Young Journalist of the Year (Award given to outstanding journalist in any medium with less than 10 years experience; submit three examples of work and letter of nomination)

b. Journalist of the Year (Award given to outstanding journalist in any medium with 10 or more years of experience; submit three examples of work and letter of nomination)

c. Story of the Year (Award for general excellence in any medium, covering a single story or news event submit up to three examples of work and letter of nomination)

d. Best Use of Public Records (Award for excellence in any medium covering a story or news event where use of public records played a role in getting and telling the story; submit up three examples of work and a narrative letter explaining work and its use of public records)

e. Best Beat Reporting (Award recognizing an enterprising reporter in any medium who follows a single subject or topic throughout the year. Entries should include three examples of reporting and a narrative letter explaining any other relevant facts a judge may use to determine the state’s top beat reporter.)

f. Freedom of Information Award (This award recognizes efforts by news organizations to further the cause of First Amendment freedoms and freedom of information. Entries can includes news stories, columns, editorials and other public advocacy actions, including requests for advisory opinions and court cases. Each news organization may submit one entry that includes up to five examples that highlight the effort.)

Entry Tiers

  • Newspaper/News Writing [50,000+ circulation; stories only published online, such as in an online-only publication, are eligible to compete in this category]
  • Newspaper [LESS than 50,000 circulation]
  • Magazine
  • Television [50+ newsroom employees]
  • Television [Fewer than 50 newsroom employees]
  • For television and newspaper, contestants may enter tiers higher than their circulation/employee class, but not lower. If you enter a higher tier, you may not enter your own tier.
  • Radio
  • Online
  • Photography [All photo entries will be judged against each other regardless of publication size]

CLICK HERE to access the contest submission form

Apply for a scholarship to SPJ’s national journalism conference Sept. 12-13

Minnesota SPJ is providing a limited number of scholarships to cover entry fees for journalists in the state who are interested in attending the 2020 SPJ Conference.

The online event is scheduled for Sept. 12-13. Speakers include Marty Baron of The Washington Post, Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times Magazine and Jorge Ramos from Univision.

Scholarship applications are due at midnight on Monday, Aug. 31.  Preference will be given to SPJ members. We will consider applications from student journalists, as well.

Go here to learn more about the event. Go here to apply for a scholarship.

MNSPJ responds to protest outside WCCO reporter’s home

Video has surfaced of a protest outside of WCCO reporter Liz Collin’s home, where a pinata replica of her was destroyed by protesters. The Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists supports the public’s constitutional right to protest peacefully, but views the destruction of Collin’s image on her private property to be a direct threat against her as a journalist.

In this current climate, journalists have been regularly disparaged and threatened while doing their jobs, and many have dealt with the abuse quietly while they proceed with their important work. We encourage the general public to use respectful and peaceful means to communicate dissatisfaction with journalists’ coverage, such as contacting them or their supervisors directly or demonstrating outside of their place of work, rather than using threats and intimidation to attack them personally.

We also urge media outlets to address concerns about conflicts of interest in a timely and transparent manner. At this moment in particular, it is essential that the industry do its part to maintain the public’s trust.

MNSPJ opposes change to Mpls. Police PIO role

Last night, the MNSPJ board emailed Minneapolis City Council members to speak out against a proposed change to the Minneapolis Police Public Information Officer position:

Dear Council Member,

We’re writing to you today, as the board of the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, to express our concerns about a proposal regarding the Minneapolis Police Department’s Public Information Officer (PIO).

Our understanding is that, should the council approve this budget amendment, the PIO position would be eliminated and the city’s communications team would take over police communications. We strongly discourage this change, and request that members of the City Council table Friday’s vote until journalists and members of the public have an opportunity to weigh in.

Our primary concern is that the city’s communications department is not suited to this role. An effective PIO must have the trust both of police officers and journalists, and that takes time – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Will a communications liaison be on the scene of late-night shootings? Will he or she give press conferences and return phone calls on weekends and city holidays?

We are also concerned that repositioning police communications will take away the autonomy that the PIO role allows. Public safety information should never be vulnerable to manipulation based on city politics and sentiments.

There is a precedent for this: In 2003, SPJ responded when then-Mayor RT Rybak wanted to eliminate the MPD PIO. The board’s primary goal then, as now, was to ensure transparency around taxpayer-funded public safety and law enforcement.

We fully recognize and understand the communication issues that exist within the current PIO model, but do not believe that eliminating that channel of communication will solve the problem. At a time when there is a renewed call for police transparency, any action to remove the PIO and undermine the position by placing it under city direction would further erode public trust.

Thank you for your time. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this issue further, please feel free to contact our president, Emma Nelson.

Sincerely,
The Board of the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists