The deadline for this contest is generally in February. Please check the calendar.

These are the categories for the Individual Newspaper Contest. Listed below are the criteria that the judges use when they are judging. Before you send something in to be judged, check to make sure that it fits into these categories. Click here to download the category descriptions.


Category 1: NEWS STORY

  • Sharp, attention-getting lead that underscores news story importance
  • Uses inverted pyramid
  • Emphasizes news elements, i.e. timeliness, nearness, impact, and prominence
  • Shows thorough reporting skills
  • Effective use of facts/quotes from both primary and secondary sources
  • Avoids opinion unless properly attributed
  • Sentences, paragraphs of varied length; written clearly, concisely, and vividly
  • Proper diction/grammar; use of third person

Category 2: NEWS ANALYSIS

  • Sharp, attention-getting lead that underscore the why/how elements of the news
  • Clarifies the news elements, i.e. timeliness, nearness, impact and prominence
  • Clarifies through research the background necessary to understand current news
  • Develops an understanding of the issues/problems through interviews with varied and balanced sources
  • Avoids personal opinion unless properly attributed
  • Sentences, paragraphs of varied length, written clearly, concisely and vividly
  • Effective use of facts/quotes from both primary and secondary sources
  • Proper diction/grammar; use of third person

Category 3: EDITORIAL

  • Topic relevant to interests and/or welfare of school or students
  • Wins reader interest with impelling lead
  • Presents evidence/interpretation in logical sequence
  • States issue; uses effective examples, facts, and comparisons to clarify
  • Deals with specific issue: avoids preaching, rhetoric, and cliches
  • Shows sufficient thought and research
  • Sentences, paragraphs of varied length; written clearly,concisely, and vividly
  • Proper diction/grammar

Category 4: BY-LINED OPINION ARTICLE

  • Topic relevant to interests and/or welfare of school or students
  • Wins reader interest with impelling lead
  • Presents evidence/interpretation in logical sequence
  • States issue; uses effective examples, facts and comparisons to clarify
  • Deals with specific issue; avoids preaching, rhetoric and cliches
  • Shows sufficient thought and knowledge of subject, developed with personal style
  • Sentences, paragraphs of varied length; written clearly, concisely and vividly
  • Proper diction/grammar

Category 5: REVIEW

  • Sharp, attention-getting lead that clarifies subject
  • Gives a short summary or adequate information about subject
  • Discusses strengths and weaknesses of subject
  • Uses specific examples to support opinion
  • Displays knowledge of subject
  • Shows thought and research
  • Colorful, lively presentation; effective form/style
  • Proper diction/grammar

Category 6: FEATURE COLUMN

  • Entry consists of two columns from different editions of the newspaper
  • Sharp attention-getting leads
  • Expresses personal opinions; uses consistent style
  • Reflects thought/research, freshness, individuality
  • Effective use of facts/quotes or supporting material
  •   Informative, interesting, entertaining
  • Upholds journalistic integrity
  • Sentences, paragraphs of varied length; written clearly, concisely and vividly
  • Proper diction/grammar

Category 7: PRO/CON EDITORIAL COLUMNS

  • Topics relevant to interests and/or welfare of school or students
  • Two pieces, while offering opposing views, are consistent in style and tone
  • Both pieces win reader interest with impelling leads
  • Present evidence/interpretation in logical sequence
  • State issue; uses effective examples, facts and comparisons to clarify
  • Deal with specific issue; avoids preaching, rhetoric and clichés
  • Show sufficient thought and knowledge of subject, developed with personal style
  • Sentences, paragraphs of varied length; written clearly, concisely and vividly
  • Proper diction/grammar

Category 8: IN-DEPTH FEATURE

  • Lead captures attention, arouses curiosity
  • Topic relevant to interests and/or welfare of school or students
  • Extensive, intensive and thorough investigation
  • Effectively combines basics of good news and feature writing
  • Effectively organized with smooth transitions; carefully outlined
  • Sentences, paragraphs of varied length; written clearly, concisely and vividly
  • Proper diction/grammar
  • Balanced and fair presentation

Category 9: INFORMATIVE FEATURE

  • Leads capture attention, arouses curiosity
  • Topic relevant to interests and/or welfare of school or students
  • Thorough investigation through research and interviews
  • Combines basics of good news and feature writing
  • Organized with smooth transitions
  • Sentences, paragraphs of varied length; written clearly, concisely and vividly
  • Uses proper diction and grammar
  • Balanced and fair presentation

Category 10: HUMAN INTEREST FEATURE

  • Lead captures attention, arouses curiosity
  • Emphasizes new element, fresh angle
  • Colorful, lively presentation;effective form/style
  • Reflects adequate research, sound interviewing techniques
  • Avoids summaries of published materials
  • Effective use of facts/quotes
  • Interesting; appeals to the emotions
  • Proper diction/grammar

Category 11: PERSONAL NARRATIVE

  • A first-person account depicting a personal experience
  • Lead captures attention, arouses curiosity
  • Topic relevant to interests and/or welfare of school or students
  •  Effectively combines basics of good news and feature writing
  • Effectively organized with smooth transitions; carefully outlined
  • Sentences, paragraphs of varied length; written clearly, concisely and vividly
  • Proper diction/grammar
  • Should have byline, which could include mug shot of writer

Category 12: PERSONALITY PROFILE

  • Lead captures attention, arouses curiosity; reason for sketch is made clear early in story
  • Emphasizes fresh angle; individualizes person
  • Colorful, lively presentation; effective form/style
  • Reflects adequate research, sound interviewing techniques from a variety of sources
  • Avoids encyclopedic listing of subject’s accomplishments
  • Effective use of quotes
  • Interesting; appeals to the emotions
  • Proper diction/grammar

Category 13: DIVERSITY COVERAGE

  • Topic relevant to the school or students and reflects lifestyles, challenges and potentials of those from a diverse background
  • Sharp, attention-getting lead grabs reader and arouses curiosity
  • Shows thorough reporting skills through research and interviewing
  • Effective use of facts/quotes from both primary and secondary sources
  • Balanced, fair and sensitive presentation
  • Sentences, paragraphs of varied length; written clearly, concisely and vividly
  • Proper diction/grammar; use of third person

Category 14: ENVIRONMENTAL, HEALTH OR SCIENCE STORY

  • Topic relevant to the school or students and covers health, science or environmental story that is informative
  • Sharp, attention-getting lead grabs reader and arouses curiosity
  • Shows thorough reporting skills through research and interviewing
  • Effective use of facts/quotes from both primary and secondary sources
  • Balanced, fair and sensitive presentation
  • Sentences, paragraphs of varied length; written clearly, concisely and vividly
  • Proper diction/grammar; use of third personn

Category 15: ALTERNATIVE STORY FORM

  • Should be a story told in a unique, alternative way.
  • This is not a traditional story as in inverted pyramid, news,
    anecdotal, analysis or feature narrative.
  • Story is told with quick facts—it’s a quick read that provides
    readers with a unique approach to a story.
  • While the read is quick, ASF should provide reader with complete
    information. Readers should not be left asking questions.
  • Organization is such that story is easy to follow and logical, even
    though it’s in an alternative way.
  • ASF is visually engrossing, bringing readers in through strong use of
    typography and other types of visuals.
  • Should not be packaged with another story or part of another story.
  • Stands totally alone as a storytelling device.
  • Submission only considered if submitted with entire page on which it
    was featured.

Category 16: SPORTS FEATURE STORY

  • Lead captures attention, arouses curiosity
  • Emphasizes new element,fresh angle
  • Colorful, lively presentation; effective form/style
  • Reflects adequate research,sound interviewing techniques
  • Avoids summaries of published materials
  • Effective use of facts/quotes
  • Interesting; appeals to the emotions
  • Proper diction/grammar

Category 17: SPORTS COLUMN

  • Sharp attention-getting lead
  • Expresses personal opinion; uses consistent style; demonstrates knowledge of sports
  • Reflects thought/research, freshness, individuality; avoids cliches
  • Effective use of facts/quotes or supportive material
  • Informative, interesting, entertaining
  • Upholds journalistic integrity
  • Sentences, paragraphs of varied length; written clearly, concisely and vividly
  • Proper diction/grammar

Category 18: SPORTS NEWS STORY

  • Lead features interesting, important angle
  • Uses colorful, lively style
  • Avoids cliches, editorializing
  • Displays knowledge of sports; uses understandable terms
  • Shows research/interviewing skills; emphasizes how & why
  • Effective use of facts/quotes
  • Proper diction/grammar; use of the third person
  • Unity/coherence

Category 19: SPORTS ACTION PHOTO

  • Effective cropping to center of interest
  • Clear, sharp details
  • Good, sharp contrast with varied levels of grays, black, and white or colors
  • Attracts, holds reader’s attention
  • Avoids distracting back/foreground
  • All elements in photo combine with caption to tell story
  • Action, rather than posed photo
  • Captures dramatic moment

Category 20: SPORTS FEATURE PHOTO

  • Effective cropping to center of interest
  • Clear, sharp details
  • Good, sharp contrast with varied levels of grays, black, and white or colors
  • Attracts, holds reader’s attention
  • Avoids distracting back/foreground
  • All elements in photo combine with caption to tell story
  • Action, rather than posed photo
  • Visually tells another side of a sports story, rather than game action
  • Is not posed

Category 21: NEWS/FEATURE PHOTOGRAPH

  • Effective cropping to center of interest
  • Clear, sharp details
  • Good, sharp contrast with varied levels of grays, black, and white or colors
  • Attracts, holds reader’s attention
  • Avoids distracting back/foreground
  • All elements in photo combine with caption to tell story
  • Action, rather than posed photo
  • Underscores news/feature importance

Category 22: ENVIRONMENTAL PORTRAIT

  • Effective cropping to center of interest
  • Clear, sharp details
  • Good, sharp contrast with varied levels of grays, black, and white or colors
  • Attracts, holds reader’s attention
  • Avoids distracting back/foreground
  •  Setting and props used for portrait gives insight into the subject(s)
  • Emphasizes personality of subject(s) (no more than two in photo)
  • While photo is posed, subject(s) have a natural appearance

Category 23: EDITORIAL CARTOON

  • Appears on editorial page
  • Simple in design
  • Shows high technical quality
  • Centered on one topic
  • Timely
  • Subject familiar to reader in his everyday life
  • Displays artistic talent
  • Message succinctly stated

Category 24: COMIC STRIP

  • Entertaining
  • Simple in design
  • Shows high technical quality
  • Centered on one topic
  • Timely
  • Subject familiar to reader in his everyday life
  • Displays artistic talent
  • Message succinctly stated

Category 25: ILLUSTRATION

  • Clearly develops a theme or mood to enhance story
  • Displays artistic talent within potential for expression using art, photography or computer
  • Photos offer good, sharp contrast with varied levels of grays, black and white. Art shows knowledge of composition, line and shading
  • Attracts, holds reader’s attention
  • Uses color, screens, typography and detail effectively
  • Sizes and placement draw reader’s attention to story without overwhelming content
  • Shows thought and creativity

Category 26: INFORMATION GRAPHIC

  • Clearly enhances the story
  • Visuals help clarify, simplify or visualize information
  • Visually attractive
  • Avoids excessive lines and/or illustrations that might confuse the reader but shows effective detail
  • Entertaining and/or informative
  • Clear lines and even strokes as opposed to retraced or broken lines
  • Takes advantage of art or computer technology
  • Uses color, screens, typography and placement effectively

Category 27: ADVERTISING LAYOUT

  • Copy provides desired information
  • Copy appropriate; concise, specific, and fast moving
  • Copy attempts to motivate the reader
  • Illustrations/photos clear
  • Parts of the ad assembled to give interesting appearance (balance)
  • Gaze motion or eye movement arranged properly
  • Distinctive: simplicity, action, emphasis, color, photography
  • Standing details attractively arranged (trademark, name, address)

Category 28: FRONT PAGE/NEWSMAGAZINE STYLE

(REGARDLESS OF SIZE)
  • Attractive nameplate, harmonizes with design, includes date, issue, volume, school, city, and state
  • Cover should be considered work of art
  • Strongly relate to the inside contents
  • Maintains visual interest
  • Cover illustration (if used) may be compelling in size with a possible teaser headline depicting the mood of the story
  • Photos effectively cropped, of varied size, shape, emphasizing action
  • Cover can refer readers to inside pages

Category 29: FRONT PAGE/NEWSPAPER STYLE

(REGARDLESS OF SIZE)
  • Attractive nameplate, harmonizes with design, includes date, issue, volume, school, city, and state
  • Page generates reader interest; showcases important content
  • Sound, journalistic style of writing
  • Maintains visual interest in lower half of page
  • Consistent use of headline styles/type faces
  • Photos effectively cropped, of varied size, shape, emphasizing action
  • Demonstrates effective graphic style, with graphic devices contributing to impact of page
  • Clear relationships demonstrated between story and related pictures/art
  • Cutlines stand out from body copy; effective lead-ins used for longer cutlines

Category 30: STORY PACKAGE

  • Package generates reader interest; showcases strongest content
  • One dominant story element and graphic element, packaged with secondary elements in the form of stories and graphics
  • Visual elements tie package together to create cohesiveness, even if package extends to another non-consecutive page or does not fill an entire page.
  • Graphic devices, if used, contribute to overall impact of package
  • Design reflects effective graphic style, personality of publication
  • Consistent use of headline styles/type faces
  • Content covers appropriate, timely issues/topics
  • Stories written in sound, journalistic style
  • Headlines get smaller in relation to importance of elements in packag

Category 31: EDITORIAL-OPINION PAGE/SPREAD

  • If editorial page, includes masthead with statement of responsibility for publication
  • Graphic devices, if used, contribute to overall impact of page
  • Cartoon, illustrations are attractive, understandable, using shadings/screenings
  • Design reflects effective graphic style, personality of publication
  • Ads not included on editorial page
  • Strong visual center of interest
  • Consistent use of headline styles/type faces
  • Editorial should be unsigned but clearly identifiable through standing heads and page I.D., column width and/or type size
  • Content covers appropriate, timely issues/topics
  • Stories written in sound, journalistic style
  • Opinions supported by facts, research and examples

Category 32: FEATURE PAGE/SPREAD

  • Page generates reader interest; showcases strongest content
  • Strong visual center of interest; page maintains visual interest throughout
  • Consistent use of headline styles/typefaces; special types restricted to unique packaging of a single element
  • Photos effectively cropped, of varied size, shape, emphasizing action
  • Demonstrates effective graphic style with graphic devices contributing to impact of page
  • Clear relationships demonstrated between story and related pictures, art
  • Cutlines stand out from body copy; effective lead-ins used for longer cutlines
  • Content reflects student interests
  • Stories written according to sound journalistic style

Category 33: SPORTS PAGE/SPREAD

  • Avoids sports jargon, cliches
  • Strong visual center of interest; visually attractive top and bottom
  • Demonstrates knowledge of subject
  • Consistent use of headline styles/type faces; head sizes indicate importance of story
  • Cutlines stand out from body copy; effective lead-ins used for longer cutlines
  • Graphic devices and ads, if used, contribute to impact of page, are attractively packaged, and encourage readership
  • Clear relationship between story and related pictures/art; potential for each story to draw readers
  • Photos effectively cropped, of varied size, shape, and emphasizing action
  • Page design reflects personality, contributes to attractiveness of page

Category 34: NEWS PAGE/SPREAD

  • Most important story is in top half of page
  • Graphic devices, if used, contribute to overall impact of page
  • Design reflects effective graphic style, personality of publication
  • Strong visual center of interest
  • Consistent use of headline styles/typefaces
  • Strong visual center of interest
  • Content covers appropriate, timely issues/topics
  • Stories written in sound, journalistic style
  • Headlines get smaller as they go down the page

Category 35: ENTERTAINMENT PAGE/SPREAD

  • Page generates reader interest; showcases strongest content
  • Strong visual center of interest; page maintains visual interest throughout
  • Includes logos/labels to seperate typse of entertainment (books, videos, music, etc)
  • Consistent use of headline styles/typefaces; special types restricted to unique packaging of a single element
  • Photos effectively cropped, of varied size, shape, emphasizing action
  • Demonstrates effective graphic style with graphic devices contributiing to impact of page
  • Clear relationships demonstrated between story and related pictures, art
  • Cutlines stand out from body copy; effective lead-ins used for longer cutlines
  • Content reflects student interests
  • Stories written according to sound journalistic style

Category 36: PHOTO STORY

  • Page includes at least three or four photos on related theme
  • Headline and cutlines are evident
  • Byline is included
  • Copy, if used, is well-written and appropriate
  • Photos are of good quality
  • Dominant photo is evident
  • Pictures work together to tell the story

Category 37: PROFESSIONALLY PUBLISHED PAGE

  • Shows balance of news, sports, feature, opinion, in-depth
  • Presents evidence of good design (modular, dominant element, visually appealing, etc.)
  • Page is clearly identified as school/student page
  • Flag is evident with name of school, address, date, etc.
  • Distinctive style is apparent
  • Editorial is placed in a distinctive location on page
  • Consideration of audience is evident (relevant topics, issues covered)