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

The Hugh Aynesworth Excellence in Journalism awards are divided into seven categories and one special section. They are Investigative reporting, breaking news reporting, feature reporting, opinion (editorials and criticism) , lifestyles reporting, and sports reporting. The special category is for Public Service. Only one Public Service award will be given each year. There are also four categories for photography and videography.

The following descriptions serve as guidelines to determine which category best suits a particular submission:

Public Service Award – There will only one public service award given each year. The submission(s) should reflect the news organization’s commitment to drawing attention to a specific need in the community it covers and, through editorials, reporting, PSA campaigns, community meetings and rallies (and many other events and activities) helps initiate needed change. While many public service campaigns involve investigative reporting, many do not. For example, a well-reported and inclusive campaign to bring shelter to homeless people during a cold winter can, in its own way, be just as beneficial in saving lives as an investigative series demonstrating how drug traffickers “cut” pure heroin with additives that make it even more dangerous. Both types of journalism are invaluable in serving the community. Submissions are limited to three per entrant.

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 in, 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.

Breaking News Reporting – Breaking 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 who 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.

Opinion – This category is divided into two parts: editorial opinion and criticism that is confined to reviews or critical articles about movies, theater and music.

Editorial opinion – This category is confined to editorials from newspapers, magazines, and broadcast media. The editorials should reflect the news organization’s knowledge of issues in its community, its commitment to improving situations that need improving, and its ability to put aside any self-interest (e.g., advertising considerations, real estate holdings, etc) in order to present a well-written, well-reasoned call for change in the community. A maximum of five editorials will be accepted from each organization that enters..

Criticism – This award will be presented for individual writing and reporting of reviews on the following subjects: Movies, local theater, local musical performances (either classical or modern).
This category is subtle. Almost all media have people who review the above-named topics. The exceptional critic is one who can offer cogent and pertinent comment in a way that sticks to his/her audience the way that Krazy Glue sticks to your fingers. The ability to critique the interaction among actors in a play and provide insight that is fair and not snarky (even if you didn’t like what you saw) will determine the winners in each area.
Each entrant is allowed a total of three submissions.

Lifestyles reporting – This category is being separated from feature reporting so that it can concentrate on specific topics having to do with how we live our lives and how act as consumers. Topics can cover a huge variety of subjects; from design and interior decoration trends for homes to showing where the best thrift stores are in the area; from designating social gathering places by demographic characteristics, to showing how to read a sales sticker on a new car. The topics are endless. All that is necessary to become a winning entry is to demonstrate a dash of creativity, the use of solid research, and a writing and reporting style that grabs the attention of the reader, viewer or listener. Each entrant is limited to three examples.

Sports reporting – Entrants can submit game/event coverage or feature reporting or a combination of both. Winners will be able to demonstrate that one doesn’t have to be a rabid sports fan to appreciate excellent reporting or the excitement of competition. Entrants are limited to three examples each.

Photography/Videography
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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