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2012 APME Journalism Excellence Awards Contest
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The 2012 APME Journalism Excellence Awards honor superior journalism and innovation among newspapers, radio, television and online news sites across the United States and Canada. The awards seek to promote excellence by recognizing work that is well written and incisively reported and that effectively challenges the status quo.

This year, innovation-award categories have been added for radio, television and college students. In addition, the online convergence category has been retooled. The new digital storytelling award recognizes print-online combinations that draw on data visualization, social media, video and/or blogs in presenting a story.

All awards are presented for journalism published or launched between July 1, 2011, and April 30, 2012.

Deadline extended: The deadline for entry is Friday, May 5, 2012.

The awards will be presented at the APME annual conference in Nashville, Sept. 19-21, and linked on the APME website.

Nominations are received online only. The contest site is at https://www.omnicontests4.com/?comp_id=330. The first step is signing up as an "entrant" at the APME contest site. Please keep your entrant username and password. You will need it to submit entries and return to the site to edit or add more entries before submitting them for judging. Submit all entries before accessing the payment page to check out.

Entry fees are $50 for APME members and $100 for non-members. To see if you are an APME member click here. If your newspaper is not listed, enroll as a member now or renew and receive many valuable benefits of membership, including reduced fees to attend the annual conference and to submit your quality work for consideration for an APME Journalism Excellence Award.

For more information, contact Sally Jacobsen (sjacobsen@ap.org) or Paula Sterling (psterling@ap.org) at Associated Press, 212-621-1838 or 212-621-1982.

Sixth Annual Innovator of the Year Award

The award recognizes innovation in print, online, management, structure or other area that demonstrates a bold, creative effort to improve a news or information product and increase audience. Demonstrable success is not essential but could improve the entry’s standing. The winner will be awarded $1,000 by sponsor GateHouse Media Inc.

Eligibility: The competition is open to any editor or staff member of an AP-member newspaper, a team from a member newspaper or a newspaper.

Submissions: A total of 20 files can be uploaded with each entry. This can include a combination of documents, published pages and multimedia files, if applicable.

Online innovation: The entrant is responsible for making the site available to judges through a Web link. URL should be submitted with the application.

Print innovation: Submit electronic files of published tear sheets.

Online and print: Combinations are welcome, and should be submitted according to rules for both.

Management, structure or other: Explain thoroughly the innovation and how it improved or increased efficiency, effectiveness, coordination and audience or enhanced the newspaper’s competitiveness or ability to improve content. Provide examples of resulting content as appropriate.

Judging: A panel of APME board members will judge all entries and select three finalists. The finalists will be presented to attendees of the APME annual conference in Nashville, Sept. 19-21, and a vote of attendees will determine the winner. A representative of each finalist will be asked to present his or her newspaper’s entry at the conference. Attendance is not required to win.

Last year's winner: Top award, as voted by 2011 APME conference attendees:

The Register Citizen of Torrington, Conn., for its open newsroom project, which gives readers full access to the paper's archives and its news meetings.

Finalists:

· The Kansas City (Mo.) Star for the Midwest Democracy Project to help citizens get more involved in civic debate.

· A group of Pennsylvania newspapers for its Broken Budgets project, which informed readers of the state legislative staffing.

To enter, go to https://www.omnicontests4.com/?comp_id=330

(New) Innovator of the year awards for Television and Radio

The awards recognize innovation in television and radio that demonstrates bold, creative efforts to improve a news or information product and increase audience. Demonstrable success is not essential but could improve the entry’s standing. An award will be given for the TV winner; another for the radio winner.

Eligibility: The competition is open to any news manager or staffer of an AP-member TV or radio station or network, or a team from a member TV or radio station or network.

Submissions: A total of 20 files can be uploaded with each entry. This can include a combination of produced segments or stories, documents, and/or multimedia files as appropriate.

Management, structure or other: Explain thoroughly the innovation and how it improved or increased efficiency, effectiveness, coordination and audience or enhanced the station or network’s competitiveness or ability to improve content. Provide examples of resulting content as appropriate.

Judging: A panel of APME board members will judge all entries and select six finalists – three in TV and three in radio. The finalists will be presented to attendees of the APME annual conference in Nashville, Sept. 19-21, and a vote of attendees will determine the winners. A representative of each finalist will be asked to present his or her organization’s entry at the conference. Attendance is not required to win.

To enter, go to https://www.omnicontests4.com/?comp_id=330

(New) Innovator of the year award for college students

The award recognizes innovation by university students in print, online, management, structure or other area that demonstrates a bold, creative effort to improve a news or information product and increase audience. Demonstrable success is not essential but could improve the entry’s standing.

Eligibility: The competition is open to any APME affiliate member who is either an enrolled student or faculty member.

Submissions: A total of 20 files can be uploaded with each entry. This can include a combination of documents, published pages and multimedia files, if applicable.

Online innovation: The entrant is responsible for making the site available to judges through a Web link. URL should be submitted with the application.

Print innovation: Submit electronic files of published tear sheets.

Online and print: Combinations are welcome, and should be submitted according to rules for both.

Management, structure or other: Explain thoroughly the innovation and how it improved or increased efficiency, effectiveness, coordination and audience or enhanced the newspaper’s competitiveness or ability to improve content. Provide examples of resulting content as appropriate.

Judging: A panel of APME board members will judge all entries and select three finalists. The finalists will be presented to attendees of the APME annual conference in Nashville, Sept. 19-21, and a vote of attendees will determine the winner. A representative of each finalist will be asked to present his or her newspaper’s entry at the conference. Attendance is not required to win.

To enter, go to https://www.omnicontests4.com/?comp_id=330

Third annual Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism

This award recognizes groundbreaking work by a newspaper that creatively uses digital tools in the role of being a community’s watchdog. The winner in each circulation category will be awarded $2,500.

Eligibility: The awards are given to Associated Press or Canadian Press member newspapers.

Criteria: This award recognizes groundbreaking work by a newspaper that creatively uses digital tools in the role of being a community's watchdog. Special consideration is given to journalism that helps a community understand and address important issues. Criteria for evaluating innovation include interactivity, creation of new tools, innovative adaptation of existing tools, and creative use of any digital medium.

Nominations: Nominations may be made by a newspaper itself, other newspapers, by AP bureaus or by civic or cultural organizations for work published between July 1, 2011 and April 30, 2012.

Circulation categories: There shall be two awards: one for newspapers with average daily circulation up 75,000, and the other for newspapers of 75,000 average daily circulation or more, according to the latest audited figures. The winner in each category will receive $2,500 in prize money. APME reserves the right to decline to award a winner in any category.

Submissions: Entries should include electronic files of clippings of stories, series and/or editorials and community reaction. No more than 20 electronic files may be submitted, including a detailed letter outlining the background, accomplishments and results of the effort. Entrants are responsible for making the digital tools available to judges through a Web link. URL should be submitted with the application. The letter should discuss significant challenges to the accuracy or the approach of the entry, and steps the newspaper took to address those concerns. The entry must include all published corrections or clarifications.

Judging: Judging will be done by a panel of APME board members, including the APME president. Winners will be announced a short time later and recognized at the APME annual conference in Nashville, Sept. 19-21.

Last year’s winners:

· The Arizona Republic in Phoenix and its website, AZCentral, won for changing the newsroom culture by supporting good watchdog journalism and by launching AZ Fact Check to test assertions by candidates and officials.

· The Statesman Journal of Salem, Ore., was honored for its investigation of the Willamette Education Service District. The Statesman Journal uncovered waste and evidence of fraud and corruption among government officials.

To enter, go to https://www.omnicontests4.com/?comp_id=330

42nd annual Public Service Awards

The APME Public Service Awards are given to Associated Press or Canadian Press member newspapers for meritorious service to the community, state or nation.

Criteria: Entries will be judged on the basis of how the newspaper made full use of its resources in serving the public good and on the high quality of journalism exhibited in the work. Work that demonstrates evidence of positive change that has benefited the public or its institutions will be given strong consideration. The entry may be a single article or a series, and, in addition to the primary print coverage, can include sidebars, graphics, online work, commentary and editorials.

Nominations: Nominations may be made by a newspaper itself, by other newspapers, by AP bureaus or by civic or cultural organizations for work published between July 1, 2011, and April 30, 2012.

Circulation categories: There shall be three awards: one for newspapers with average daily circulation to 39,999; one for newspapers with average daily circulation of 40,000 to 149,999; another for newspapers of 150,000 average daily circulation or more, according to the latest audited figures. APME reserves the right to decline to award a winner in any category. Only newspapers are eligible to submit entries, except that bureau work may be entered by a single newspaper for judging in the 150,000-and-over circulation category regardless of the size of the paper in which the work appears.

Submissions: Entries should include electronic files of clippings of stories, series and/or editorials and community reaction. No more than 20 electronic files may be submitted, including a detailed letter outlining the background, accomplishments and results of the effort. The letter should discuss significant challenges to the accuracy or the approach of the entry, and steps the newspaper took to address those concerns. The entry must include all published corrections or clarifications.

Judging: Judging will be done by the president and three past presidents of APME plus a senior editor of The Associated Press. Winners will be announced a short time later and recognized at the APME annual conference in Nashville, Sept. 19-21.

Last year’s winners

· The Los Angeles Times for an investigation of the exorbitant salaries officials in Bell Calif., an impoverished town in southeastern Los Angeles County.

· The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson for its "Barriers to Mental Health” series on the obstacles to seeking help for the seriously mentally ill.

· The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal won for "Money Pit, Money Makers: Developmental Centers and the Medicaid Match,” a series on how New York state made hundreds of millions in federal Medicaid dollars from people institutionalized in nine centers for the mentally disabled.

To enter, go to https://www.omnicontests4.com/?comp_id=330

42nd annual First Amendment Award and Citations

The 2012 APME First Amendment Awards will be given to journalists or newspapers for work that advances freedom of information, makes good use of FOI principles or statutes, or significantly widens the scope of information available to the public. Other distinguished efforts will be honored with First Amendment citations.

Criteria: The objective is to honor journalists and newspapers for significant or breakthrough work that protects or advances the First Amendment or federal and state FOI statutes. A story or project that makes good use of an FOIA law does not necessarily meet the criteria for the APME First Amendment Award, and may be deserving of consideration in the APME Public Service competition. Judges in the First Amendment contest will give preference to entries that break ground in the use of freedom of information principles or overcome significant official resistance to legal application of the First Amendment or FOI laws. Newspapers must choose whether to enter their projects in the First Amendment or Public Service contests.

Nominations: Nominations will be made by individuals, newspapers, professional societies, journalism schools, state AP associations and others.

Circulation categories: There shall be three awards: one for newspapers with average daily circulation to 39,999; one for newspapers with average daily circulation of 40,000 to149,999; another for newspapers of 150,000 average daily circulation or more, according to the latest audited figures. One Sweepstakes Award will be given to the winning entry that best exemplifies the spirit of the First Amendment. APME reserves the right to decline to award a winner in any category.

Eligibility: Individual staff members of The Associated Press or Canadian Press member newspapers, or the newspapers themselves, are eligible. Specific articles or actions cited for recognition must have been published or have occurred between July 1, 2011, and April 30, 2012. However, an individual or newspaper may be nominated for contributions to freedom of information over the years.

Submissions: The objective is to honor newsmen, newswomen and newspapers for efforts to obtain information to which the public otherwise would not have access. It is important that entries emphasize and document those efforts. Electronic images of pages must include publication dates. A total of 20 files may be uploaded and can be a combination of published pages, documentation and/or multimedia files. A detailed explanation of the entry to be submitted as a document file to your online application should discuss significant challenges to the accuracy or the approach of the entry, and steps the newspaper took to address those concerns. The entry must include all published corrections.

Judging: Nominations will be judged by members of the APME Executive Committee, the chairman of the APME First Amendment Committee and distinguished experts on public access issues. Winners will be recognized at the APME annual conference in Nashville, Sept. 19-21.

Last year’s winners:

 Los Angeles Times for "Grading the Teachers,” a groundbreaking analysis of public school test scores that showed good teachers make a measurable difference in the classroom but often go unrecognized and unrewarded.

• The Salt Lake Tribune for its efforts to preserve Utah’s open records law. The newspaper, relying on comprehensive reporting by its news staff and swift action by its editorial board, helped inform debate over the bill that ultimately led to its repeal.

• The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press for its work to strengthen Vermont’s weak open government laws. Now, action is begin taken after a 2010 governor’s race in which the Free Press made clear that open government was the paramount issue facing Vermont.

To enter, go to https://www.omnicontests4.com/?comp_id=330

Digital Storytelling and Reporting Awards (previously Online Convergence Awards)

The award recognizes Associated Press or Canadian Press member newspaper, television, radio and online partners for the effective use of digital storytelling and reporting.

Criteria: These awards recognize print-online or broadcast-online combinations that draw on data visualization, social media, use of apps, games, video and/or blogs in presenting the story. The article can be on any topic - an in-depth investigation, a breaking story, a feature story, a profile. Entries should demonstrate the effective use of the digital medium, highlighting its ability to engage readers, viewers or listeners and present information in compelling new ways.

Nominations: Nominations may be made by a newspaper or broadcast outlet itself or its online partner for work published between July 1, 2011, and April 30, 2012.

Circulation categories: There shall be three awards: one for newspapers with average daily circulation to 39,999; one for newspapers with average daily circulation of 40,000 to 149,999; another for newspapers of 150,000 average daily circulation or more, according to the latest audited figures. APME reserves the right to decline to award a winner in any category.

Submissions: Entry should include main URL, three supporting URLs, plus a 500-word (max) statement explaining why the work deserves recognition. Judges will give special weight to entries that highlight reader engagement and interactivity. You can include electronic files of stories, series and/or editorials and community reaction. No more than 20 electronic files may be submitted, including a letter describing the nominated story and how it was developed. The letter should discuss additional elements produced for online and how the online efforts contributed to development of the story in print or broadcast. The letter also should discuss any action resulting from the coverage. It also should mention significant challenges to the accuracy or approach of the entry, as well as steps the news media outlet and/or the online unit took to address those concerns. Published corrections or clarifications must be included.

Judging: Judging will be done by a committee appointed by the president of APME, to include a senior online editor of The Associated Press and other top online journalists. Winners will be recognized at the APME annual conference in Nashville, Sept. 19-20.

Last year’s online convergence winners:

• The Wall Street Journal for "What They Know,” an investigation of Internet privacy that was greatly enhanced by online data visualization.

• The Roanoke Times for the "Legacy of the Flood,” which recalled the 25th anniversary of a deadly flood and reflected on how much has changed in Roanoke since that event.

• The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News for coverage of the April tornado that devastated the community. From stories, photos and videos to interactive maps and victim resource guides, the entry showed how a newspaper can use the Web to expand its coverage.

To enter, go to https://www.omnicontests4.com/?comp_id=330

International Perspective Awards

The 2012 APME International Perspective Awards will be given to Associated Press and Canadian Press member newspapers for outstanding coverage of international news for local readers.

Criteria: These awards recognize newspapers that provide effective and thoughtful coverage of world events for a local audience. This could be reflected in coverage from the newspaper's own foreign staff; consistent, discriminating selection of news agency and syndicate material with an eye to overall importance, the quality of writing and the specific interests of the local community; locally produced stories tracing the international connections of people, businesses and other organizations in the newspaper's circulation area; articles about, or by, local people living or traveling abroad; and the effective use of local experts to provide background on international developments.

Nominations: Nominations may be made by a newspaper itself, by other newspapers, by AP bureaus or by civic or cultural organizations for work published between July 1, 2011, and April 30, 2012.

Circulation categories: There shall be three awards: one for newspapers with average daily circulation to 39,999; one for newspapers with average daily circulation of 40,000 to 149,999; another for newspapers of 150,000 average daily circulation or more, according to the latest audited figures. APME reserves the right to decline to award a winner in any category.

Submissions: An entry can include electronic files of stories, series and/or editorials and community reaction. The files should include proof of publication date. A total of 20 files may be uploaded, and should include a letter with a description of the newspaper’s criteria and philosophy for internationally related coverage. The letter also should discuss any accomplishments resulting from the coverage. It should also discuss significant challenges to the accuracy or approach of the entry, and steps the newspaper took to address those concerns. Published corrections or clarifications must be included.

Judging: Judging will be done by a committee appointed by the president of APME, to include a senior online editor of The Associated Press and other top online journalists. Winners will be recognized at the APME annual conference in Nashville, Sept. 19-20.

Last year’s winners:

 The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, for ``Unfinished Business,'' a moving exploration of the lingering and devastating effects of Agent Orange on Vietnam War veterans and their families in the United States and on survivors in Vietnam.

• The Roanoke (Va.) Times for "Life and Death in the Time of Cholera,” an account of a volunteer medical team fighting death, disease and disorder to save lives in Haiti.

• The Daily Times, Farmington, N.M., for "Navaho Nation,” a series of stories on the impact of broadband telecommunications access to the Navaho nation.

To enter, go to https://www.omnicontests4.com/?comp_id=330

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