Categories and rules for the Hugh Aynesworth Awards for Excellence in Journalism

The Hugh Aynesworth Awards for Excellence in Journalism are divided into three categories: Investigative reporting, spot news reporting and feature reporting. There are also two categories for photography and videography.

The following descriptions serve as guidelines for determining which category best suits a particular submission:

Investigative Reporting – The strongest elements for a solid investigative report are:

  • A) Does the investigation reveal information hitherto unknown to the public?
  • B) Is the information newsworthy? (i.e. does it provide insight into a problem that the public has a need and a right to know about; and, more important, does it uncover information indicating unethical or criminal conduct?)
  • C) Does the reporting get results? (i.e., a government investigation, an indictment, a change in procedures?)

Investigative reporting isn’t confined to a specific area of interest. It can be about government, politics, organized crime, consumer issues, labor organizations, business enterprises, medicine or health groups, sports, the entertainment industry – just about any aspect of daily life. Usually, an investigative report consists of a series of related stories that thoroughly identify the issue and confirm its importance. However, it is possible that a single report can be investigative, and single submissions will be considered in this category. Investigative reporting in series form should contain no more than five parts, even if the series ran longer.

Spot News Reporting – Spot news reporting is just that: On-the-site reporting that gives an accurate and compelling recounting of the event as it occurs. The “event” can be anything that piques the public’s interest: a tornado, windstorm, traffic accident, a shoot-out, police chase, emergency operation at a hospital, an unusual confrontation – any sudden occurrence that provides a theater for journalists to highlight their competence “on the scene.”

Requirements: Being at the site first is a big plus; providing the correct perspective as to what’s happening early-on is an advantage; getting the facts to the public efficiently and quickly. NOTE: Obviously, the requirements for print submissions are quite different from broadcast or digital submissions because deadlines are much more restrictive. Newspapers or magazines that offer entries for their work in print (ink on paper) will be judged only against other publications that enter the same way.

Each entrant is allowed three examples of spot news reporting.

Feature Reporting – Feature reporting usually encompasses topics that don’t necessarily have an immediate or hard news edge (although, in some cases, they can), with the emphasis on aspects of the story – the people, the unusual circumstances, the surroundings – that will evoke a response from the reader or viewer that go beyond the usual. Emphasis in this kind of reporting is on the writing and presentation, telling a story in a way that captures attention and keeps it there throughout. Human interest stories are often good examples of feature reporting, but so can a piece on visitors poring over items at an estate sale, or research into unrecognizable names on the tombstones at a local cemetery.

Each entrant is allowed three examples of feature reporting.


A picture can indeed be worth a thousand words. The Aynesworth photography/video categories follow the same rules as the reporting categories.

Spot news – Photography/ Videography

  • A) Stand-alone photo or video of a spot news event.
  • B) Photo or video that accompanies a reported story

Each entrant is allowed three submissions in each category

Feature photography/videography

  • A) Stand-alone feature photo of video
  • B) Photo or video that accompanies a reported feature story

Each entrant is allowed three submissions in each category

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