2017 Newsroom Contests

Local news writing. Editorial excellence. Front page. Digital journalism. Community leadership


The Contests

Local news writing

Sponsored by the University of Kentucky School of Journalism.

This contest is open to any news story or feature, or series of news stories or features, in the contest categories. Entries must be written by a staff member of an Inland-member newspaper and published anytime from September 1, 2016 through August 1, 2017.

Entry limits: Each newspaper may submit up to three entries in each category. The same story or series can be submitted in more than one category.

Local News Writing Categories:

Investigative Reporting

Submit a story or series of stories on a specific issue. A story plus all sidebars published with it on the same day will count as only one story. Judging criteria are:

  • Enterprise in developing sources, making judgments about evidence and compiling information.
  • Persistence in the face of indifference, hostility or technical difficulties.
  • Clarity and effectiveness of design and art.
  • Impact, as measured by subsequent events.

Explanatory Reporting

Submit a story or series of stories in which the newspaper makes a special and timely effort to explain a local issue, process or se of actions important to a large section of the community served. Judges will look for the best reporting that helps newspaper readers understand the community and the use of skillful writing to explain the significance of local and public issues. Criteria for judging will include:

  • Overall quality of writing and reporting.
  • Clarity and effectiveness of design and art.
  • Relevance of coverage to readers’ lives.

Personality/Individual Profile Stories

This category features the journalist as a “storyteller,” telling a person’s story, not necessarily related to individual fame. Obituaries that are stories above and beyond the newspaper’s standard obituary may be used in this category. Judges will look for he best storytelling, engaging prose, and the ability to make the subject interesting to the reader.

Editorial excellence contest

Entrants must submit any five editorials written and published between September 1, 2016 and August 1, 2017. The five editorials will be considered one entry.

Front Page Contest

Judging. Entries will be judged on four criteria:

  • Quality of writing
  • Story selection
  • Headline treatment
  • Graphics and design

Eligible editions. This contest is judged on the basis of four front pages: The editor's choice, which may be any front page published between September 1, 2016 and August 1, 2017 and the front page from each of these pre-selected dates:

  • Sunday, October 2, 2016
  • Wednesday, December 7, 2016
  • Friday, March 31, 2017

If the paper does not publish on one or more of these dates because it is not a daily or does not publish on Sundays, please enter the first issue published after the date listed.

Format. Submit PDFs of the front page. Because quality of writing is one of the judging criteria, inside pages containing jumps from the front page may be submitted along with the front page.

Community leadership award

The purpose of the Inland Press Association Community Leadership Award is to encourage newspapers to take the initiative in making their communities better places in which to live and work.

The Community Leadership Awards will recognize the initiative and achievements of newspapers working through the combined resources of news coverage, editorial support and staff involvement to improve the community.

Entries should show how the local newspaper is effectively involved in the life of its community.

There will be one award in each of the four circulation categories: Less than 10,000; 10,000 to 49,999; 50,000 to 100,000; more than 100,000. Entries in a circulation category may be combined with the next biggest if, in the opinion of  the judges, there are too few entries.

How to enter

To submit entries, go to

You'll be asked what type of contestant you are. It is highly recommended to click on "Contest Manager," unless several people from the organization are submitting entries. From the "Select a Contest" dropdown menu, select "2017 Inland Newsroom Contests." From the "Select Media Organization" menu, find your publication or company in the alphabetically organized list.

If this is your first time entering the contest, use the password bnc (all lower case) when prompted.

You'll later be prompted to change that password. If your organization has entered the contest in the past, use that password. If you've forgotten it, contact contest administrators, Mark Fitzgerald at or Karla Zander, at

The contest system will accept entries in any digital format.

Follow prompts for payment.

Entry Information

All contests except the Digital Journalism Contest are for Inland member newspaper organizations only.

All contests except Digital Journalism are judged in four circulation groups:

  • Under 10,000
  • 10,000 to 49,999
  • 50,000 to 99,999
  • 100,000 or more

Entries must have been published between September 1, 2016 and August 1, 2017.

Deadline: Monday, August 7, 2017 5:00 p.m. Central time.


  • Editorial Excellence, Local News Writing and Front Page contests: $33 per entry (members only)
  • Digital Journalism contest: $33 per entry for Inland members; $45 per entry for non-members
  • Community Leadership Award contest: $60 (members only)

Don't miss Inland's other contest

2017 Print Quality Competition
Newspapers may be moving, at various paces, towards a digital-first future, but that emphatically does not mean their commitment to quality print reproduction has weakened in any way.

Southern Lithoplate Inc. understands and encourages progress in print advancement with its sponsorship of the annual Print Quality Competition.

Learn more about the Print Quality Competition