The 29th annual Society for Features Journalism Excellence-in-Features Awards honor the craft of feature storytelling and the people who do it for a living at news organizations or as freelancers. All entries must have been published in print or online between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2016.
To enter the contest, visit the Better Newspaper Contest website at http://www.betternewspapercontest.com, and click on “Contestant Login” at the top portion of the screen. In the window that opens, enter your information and select “2016 Society for Features Journalism Excellence-in-Features Awards” from the list of contests. The site includes instructions on how to submit entries.
First-place winners in each category will receive $300. Winners will be announced in June and honored at SFJ’s national conference in Kansas City, Mo., in September.
The cost of each entry is $45 for all writing, online and video entries; $60 in the Best Niche Product and Best Features Section categories; and $25 for student entries.
Entries for Best Section and Best Niche Product must include PDFs of the covers as well as hard copies. The category rules on the BNC site explain where to mail them. All other categories, including all of the writing ones, are judged electronically; entries can be uploaded as PDFs, JPEGs, Word documents or other files; the rules will explain what types of files are accepted.
NOTE: Past entrants should be in the system, but some publications have been inexplicably deleted from the system. If you are unable to log in using a previous password, try creating a new one.
Deadline for entries is March 3, 2017. For details, go to betternewspapercontest.com.
Feature treatment of any A&E, lifestyles or news topic. Entries can be a single trend story, profile, interview, news feature or general feature of 1,000 words or more. Sidebars accepted. Each entry consists of one story. Multiple bylines accepted.
Arts & Entertainment Feature
Feature treatment of an arts and entertainment topic – such as architecture, art, books, dance, movies, music, opera, television or theater. Entries can be a single trend story, interview or feature story. Each entry consists of one story.
Tight, bright writing of fewer than 1,000 words. A word count is required with each entry; entries exceeding the limit will be disqualified. Enter the word count in the Comments, Credits & Other Info field on the entry form. Each entry consists of one story.
Feature Series or Project
Feature treatment of any lifestyle, A&E or news topic that has multiple parts. Sidebars accepted. Can include a written explanation of not more than 250 words on how the story was reported. Each entry consists of the stories that comprise the series or project. Multiple bylines accepted.
A single story told in a narrative style, using techniques such as character development, use of dialogue, sense of place, scene building, narrative arc and adherence to theme. Sidebars accepted. Each entry consists of one story.
Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio
Three stories by the same writer on one features specialty topic, such as arts and entertainment, fashion, food, health, religion, technology or travel. Entries can be trend stories, profiles, interviews, news features, general features or narratives covering the same topic. Columns and commentary are excluded. Each entry consists of three stories from the same writer.
General Commentary Portfolio
A collection of three columns or essays by the same writer on any human interest or specialty topic, excluding editorials. Each entry consists of three examples of the writer’s work, showing a range of reporting styles.
Arts & Entertainment Commentary Portfolio
A collection of three columns, essays or reviews by the same writer on any arts and entertainment topic, including dining reviews but excluding editorials. Each entry consists of three examples of the writer’s work.
Feature treatment of any sports topic. Entries can be a trend story, interview or feature story. Each entry consists of one story.
Headline Writing Portfolio
A collection of three headlines and accompanying decks by the same writer for feature stories or columns. Headlines must be attached to the stories or columns and can be accompanied by related visuals. Entries will be judged on clarity, accuracy and creativity. One entry consists of three headlines and accompanying decks and stories. NOTE: All entries, regardless of circulation group, compete in one group.
The coverage of any A&E, lifestyle or specialty topic using a single video of not more than 8 minutes in length. One entry consists of one video.
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic told through the integrated use of print, digital, social media, video and any other platform. One entry consists of the package of stories and other elements used to cover the topic.
Diversity in Digital Features
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic that highlights the diversity within a publication’s audience. Diversity can include race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs or other ideologies. One entry consists of a story or a series of stories on the same diversity topic. Multiple bylines accepted. This award is sponsored by the SFJ Foundation.
New or improved digital ventures, which can include new or upgraded websites, apps, social-media experiments or other ways to share information in the digital world. Entries will be judged on creativity and impact. Must include a description of no more than 250 words on how the innovation came about, its goals and its success. Submit explanation as a Word document attachment or enter explanation in the Comments, Credits & Other Info field on the entry form. One entry consists of one innovation, such as an app or a website. NOTE: All entries, regardless of circulation group, compete in one group.
Best Niche Product
The best examples of a niche product – such as a magazine or special section – published at least two times a year. Submit two issues of the same niche product from the 2016 calendar year. Each entry must also include PDFs of the covers from both of the submitted entries. One entry consists of one copy of each of the two issues and the two PDFs. On the back of each hard-copy issue, attach a printed entry label, which automatically appears after each entry is submitted. Address entries to SPJ – SFJ contest 2017, Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208. Entries must be postmarked by March 3, 2017.
Best Features Website, Digital Channel or App
The best your publication has to offer in digital A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. Submit a link to a website, features channel or app. Entries are judged on content, which includes timeliness, depth of coverage, voice and style; service, which includes the level of reader interaction and the inclusion of everyday people and useful information; and design, which includes the digital presentation, headlines and “wow” factor. One entry consists of a link to a website, features channel or app.
The best your publication has to offer in printed A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. Submit five sections from the 2016 calendar year. One must be an arts-and- entertainment-themed section, and one must be a Sunday section. (If your publication doesn’t print on Sunday, submit one section from Saturday or from your premiere weekly section and add a note of explanation). The other three are the editor’s choice from regularly appearing features sections.
Entries are judged on content, which includes the range of topics, depth, voice and style; service, which includes the inclusion of everyday people, useful information and the level of reader interaction; and design, which includes the use of photos and illustrations, headlines, navigational tools and the “wow” factor. One hard copy of each section is required. One entry consists of one copy of each of the five sections and PDFs of three of the submitted section fronts (PDFs of the section fronts only). On the back of each section, attached a printed version of the entry label, which automatically appears after each entry is submitted. Mail entries to SPJ – SFJ contest 2017, Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208. Entries must be postmarked by March 3, 2017. Also, attach PDFs of the front or cover page from three of the submitted entries.
Finest in Features Sweepstakes Award
This award honors three publications in each circulation category that garner the most awards in the other 18 categories. No entry is necessary. Instead, points are assigned for each of the other winning entries (20 points for a first-place finish, 15 for second, for example), and the publications with the highest number of points receive the sweepstakes awards.
Best College Features Journalist in the Country
Open to any college student whose work appeared in or on an officially recognized student media source (newspaper, website, podcast, TV station, radio station, etc.). Journalists should submit up to three features that appeared in the 2016 calendar year. The fee to enter is $25. Judging will be by features editors around the country. The winner will receive a $500 award from the Society for Features Journalism Foundation.