APSE 2015 Contest: All you need to know, right here!

2015 APSE Contest

Big news: There are a few changes in this year’s contest:

1. There are two new categories: Video, 2 Minutes or Less; and Video, More than 2 Minutes

Each news organization is limited to one entry in each of these categories. These are in addition to the Multimedia category. The limit for Multimedia is two entries per news organization. Simple videos may not be entered in the Multimedia category. More details below.

2. The Explanatory category returns for the Class D (Under 30,000 circulation/website-only members with less than 250,000 unique monthly visitors). See below for details.

3. The Game Story category remaims for Class D (Under 30,000 circulation/website-only members with less than 250,000 unique monthly visitors) only.

4. In recognition of the fact that many newspapers no longer publish seven days per week, and to be as inclusive as possible, APSE has changed the mandatory dates for the Daily Sections contest to a week-long period (of six days, no Sunday papers allowed in the Daily Sections) from which an organization will submit one daily section.

5. APSE will be utilizing off-site judging in certain categories this year. If you are unable to make it to Tampa and wish to judge – or if you have a staff member who won’t be going to Tampa who would like to participate – email apsecontest@gmail.com and use OFF-SITE JUDGING in the subject line. Off-site judges will judge in a window from Feb. 22-March 2.

 

Otherwise, the contest should work very much as it did last year:

All writing entries will be submitted electronically via Google Drive.

Having trouble? Shoot me an email (make sure to copy to apsecontest@gmail.com with QUESTION or PROBLEM in the subject line) or call me. Our goal is that the contest be a breeze to enter. So please help us make that a reality.

Below you’ll find all the info you need to enter. Included are all the contest basics (categories, rules, etc.) at the bottom.

CONTEST ESSENTIALS:

_ All section entries must be postmarked Jan. 24. All writing entries must be submitted by midnight local time that same day.

_ Mandatory dates: Sunday – April 26, 2015; (with a second Sunday date TBD on Dec. 31, 2015); Daily – One paper chosen from the week of Jan. 5 to Jan. 10, 2015 (Monday through Saturday are eligible), with second group of dates TBD on Dec. 31, 2015)

_ Section catchers can be found below.

_ Judging will take place Feb. 27-March 2 at Poynter Institute; host hotel is the Hampton Inn & Suites at 80 Beach Dr. NE in St. Petersburg, FL 22301; Room rate is $139, reservations can be made by calling (727) 892-9900 or (800) 426-7866). Use the group code APS.

_ If you are attending judging, be there for a 4 p.m. meeting Saturday, Feb. 27. With the move to online entries, rather than paper, please please please make this meeting.

_ Bring your laptop.

_ To enter, you must sign up for a Google account. You’ll need this both to submit entries and to judge come February.

_ If you’re a judge, please send an email to apsecontest@gmail.com with your cellphone, work email and gmail – and make sure to include your news organization and circulation category:

Category A: Over 175,000/more than 2 million unique monthly visitors

Category B: 75,001 to 175,000/from 750,001 to 1.999 million unique monthly visitors

Category C: 30,000 to 75,000/from 250,000 to 750,000 unique monthly visitors

Category D: Under 30,000/less than 250,000 unique monthly visitors

 

_ You must notify contest chairman Tommy Deas that you have submitted all writing entries. Include your entries key with this note. Send those to apsecontest@gmail.com – all entries will be checked as quickly as possible, but may not be checked immediately. Please be patient.

_ Questions? Contact Tommy Deas at 205-722-0224 or tommy.deas@tuscaloosanews.com (please copy to apsecontest@gmail.com and put CONTEST QUESTION in the subject line). I’ll respond to everyone as quickly as I can, but some responses may not be immediate. Please do what you can to avoid waiting until the last minute before the entry deadline.

 

HOW TO ENTER:

A. How to prepare writing entries

◾Copy and paste story from electronic library copy into a Google doc. (If you only have hard copies contact me, and we’ll work out a solution.) For ease of use, please do use Google Docs. Thank you.

◾All entries must include the following information in the top right-hand corner of the first page of the story. For example:

USA TODAY Sports

Writing division: Breaking News

Circulation category: Over 175

Numbered entry: Breaking News 1 (This MUST match your entry key. This is how we know what story belongs to which publication and which author)

Date entry was published: June 18, 2015

◾You must redact any mention of the publication. To do this, highlight the text you want to redact. Next, click on the “A” in the formatting bar across the top of the Google Doc. It will give you the option of text or highlight. Click on highlight, then choose the first box in the first row (black.) Done. It will look like this: Mary

 

B. How to submit your writing entries:

1.Log in to Google Drive.

2.Get your upload link. The links are included at the bottom of this document and posted separately on the site. Don’t see your site? Email me (Tommy Deas) at apsecontest@gmail.com, and I’ll get you set up.

3.The link takes you directly to your publication’s folder, which includes subfolders for each writing category.

4.Ready? Click on the link.

5.In the top right corner there is a blue button that says “Open in Drive.” Click on that.

6.Now we come to a fork in the road.

7.Have you already created your writing entries and just need to upload? Yes? Great. On the left is a red button titled “NEW.” Click on it to reveal its menu. You want “file upload.” Find the files on your desktop and upload them. Please put the breaking news entries in the breaking news folder, etc.

8.Need help uploading? Directions straight from google: https://support.google.com/drive/answer/2424368)

9.Wait, you say you have NOT created your writing entries yet? No problem. Let’s get started.

10.On the left is a red button titled “NEW.” Click on it to reveal its menu.

11.You want “Google Docs.” Click on it. You’ll get the following message: “Create in a shared folder? The created item will have the same sharing permissions as the selected folder.” Click yes.

12.Name the document. In the left-hand corner you’ll see “unnamed document.” Click on that text and enter your title _ “Breaking News 1,” “Columns 1,” etc. This is the title you’ll put on your entry key.

13.Now you’re ready to create a writing entry. Just follow the instructions for how to prepare writing entries

14.The bonus for you is the google doc has been created right there in your publication’s folder, no need to upload. When all your entries are ready, you’ll just need to drag and drop each into the appropriate subfolder

C. Let us know you’ve finished your entries.

_ Send an email to apsecontest@gmail.com – IMPORTANT: Put the name of the news organization plus ENTRY COMPLETE in subject line. Make this a fresh, new email, and not part of a chain of any earlier correspondence.

_ Include the entry key as an attachment.

_ Create a Google doc.

_ Label it “USA TODAY Sports (name of your org) Entry Key”

_ Break down entries by category, including separate links (use bitly) for each story submitted. Please be very mindful of the spellings as it’s what we will use.

For example:

Breaking News

1. Tommy Deas

http://usat.ly/1CEgwaS

http://usat.ly/1aZBfgi

http://usat.ly/1CEgwaS

http://usat.ly/1aZBfgi

http://usat.ly/1CEgwaS

2. Andrew Carroll

http://usat.ly/1CEgwaS

http://usat.ly/1aZBfgi

http://usat.ly/1CEgwaS

http://usat.ly/1aZBfgi

http://usat.ly/1CEgwaS

 

CONTEST BASICS

 

Who can enter?

Dues must be paid to be contest eligible.

If you haven’t paid your 2015 APSE dues, there’s still time to pay them and become eligible to enter APSE’s annual contests. Sign up here: http://apsportseditors.org/how-to-join/

What are the writing categories?

BREAKING NEWS

Three entries per paper; one article per entry; cover letter allowed.

◾Article of a sports news development (trades, hirings, firings, franchise shifts, etc.) that occurred in the most recent news cycle.

◾Online or print stories can be submitted.

◾A cover letter should explain who broke the story, when the news was obtained relative to publication, publication time online, and how it might have been expanded upon for print. For judging purposes, only the final story and cover letter must be read, but up to three examples of complementary material may be included and read at the judges’ discretion. Judges, using their discretion, will weigh the various elements of a breaking news story: timeliness, thoroughness, exclusivity, significance. These should be explained in the cover letter.

 

EXPLANATORY

Two entries per organization; one article per entry; cover letter allowed.

◾Article along with any accompanying sidebars or graphics/charts that help supplement the story.

◾Sidebars will not be required reading by the judges. They will be included to answer judges’ questions concerning why material may be missing from the single-story entry. An editor also can attach a cover letter that is a synopsis of the sidebars.

◾Explanatory stories include trends, issues and original ideas. They shed new light on issues and personalities in the news. They are more than the feature and less than the project entry. They go beyond the “yesterday” of the breaking news story.

 

GAME STORY (Under 30 only)

Three entries per organization; one article per entry.

◾The best single article. No series; no sidebars.

◾Judging will be on reader interest, and quality of writing and thoroughness of reporting.

 

BEAT WRITING

Two entries per organization; five articles per entry; cover letter allowed.

◾Collection of articles by a single author that shows authoritative, newsy and innovative coverage of a beat.

◾Each entry should consist of five pieces: at least one breaking news story; one event or game coverage story; one enterprise piece and two wild-card stories from any of the aforementioned categories (or other stories or analysis related to the beat).

◾Entries should include a cover letter with a synopsis of how the combined submissions demonstrate excellence on the beat. The cover letter should note other metrics that show authority and audience engagement on the beat.

 

FEATURES

Three entries per paper; one article per entry; no cover letter.

◾The best single article. No series; no sidebars.

◾Judging will be on human interest, reader interest, and quality of writing and thoroughness of reporting.

◾Each paper or website will be allowed three entries in the feature writing category.

 

COLUMNS

Two entries per paper; five articles per entry; no cover letter.

◾Judged based on style, writing quality, originality and local appeal.

◾No restriction on subject matter and no requirement that they appear regularly.

◾Each paper or website will be allowed two entries in the column writing category.

 

PROJECTS

One entry per paper; 1-10 articles per entry (refer to category explanation for more detail); cover letter allowed.

◾Collection of articles that sheds new light on personalities and issues in the news, including trends and original ideas.

◾For judging purposes, the project is limited to 10 stories. Additional material may be attached and read at the judges’ discretion.

◾There should be a synopsis of the supplementary material in the cover letter. The material is not required to have appeared in a single day or on consecutive days.

 

INVESTIGATIVE

One entry per paper; 1+ articles per entry; cover letter allowed. (There are no circulation categories in Investigative: all entries are judged across all categories)

◾Best single article or best series.

◾Judging will be based on the entry’s enterprise, initiative, documentation, resourcefulness and original reporting in uncovering newsworthy and significant facts and developments that otherwise might not have been reported. Impact and aftermath of the work should be considered.

◾Investigative work should rely on reporting of facts discovered or uncovered by the author rather than reports from anonymous sources offering unverified statements.

◾Investigative entries must not include articles for which payments were made for information. Pure and truly significant investigative reporting is rare. Relying solely on quotes from an FBI source does not make a story investigative. Doing the work the FBI would do in order to build a story might be investigative.

 

How do I write a cover letter?

A cover letter actually isn’t a letter at all. It’s a form that gives judges pertinent information. You must follow this strict format or your letter may be tossed:

◾Origin of the idea of the story: (Place your explanation here …)

◾Timeliness of its publication: (Place your explanation here …)

◾Difficulty in acquiring it: (Place your explanation here …)

◾Impact, reaction, aftermath: (Place your explanation here …)

◾Project reporting 1: (The numbered entry)

◾DO NOT identify the organization or writer.

Can I enter the same story in five different categories?

With the exception of the beat writing category, no article may be entered in more than one writing division. There is a limit of one entry per writer per category, with a single exception: a writer may be entered in the same category a second time (and only a second time) if he/she is a member of a team (two or more writers) entry. A single team may not be entered twice. Example: Writer A could be entered once individually. She also could be entered a second time for an entry co-authored by Writer B. Or, Writer A could be entered twice as a part of a team, as long as the teams were not the same.

The same rule applies in the multimedia and video categories.

What’s my circulation category?

Entries will be judged by category determined by the level at which the news organization pays APSE dues: for news organizations with daily print products, this is determined by average daily circulation; for website-only news organizations, this is determined by unique monthly visitors:

Here are the categories:

Category A: Over 175,000/more than 2 million unique monthly visitors

Category B: 75,001 to 175,000/from 750,001 to 1.999 million unique monthly visitors

Category C: 30,000 to 75,000/from 250,000 to 750,000 unique monthly visitors

Category D: Under 30,000/less than 250,000 unique monthly visitors

◾There is a special fifth category for sections: Under 15,000. All papers under 30,000 enter Category D. Papers with a circulation of 15,000 and under — those that are not recognized in the Top 10 for Under 30,000 — are eligible for recognition in the special 15,000 and under division. A paper need not enter twice; it will automatically be judged in both categories, as eligible.

A paper may compete in a larger circulation category but not a smaller one.

All contest entries – writing and section divisions as well as video and multimedia – must be made in the same category. Editors wanting to compete in a larger category must notify contest chair Tommy Deas (205-722-0224, tommy.deas@gmail.com) before submitting entries. They will be required to pay the higher dues for the higher division.

When one staff publishes sports sections for several papers, they are considered one paper for APSE purposes. To enter individually, these papers need to pay dues individually. Questions on your organization and how it fits in should be directed to APSE President Mary Byrne.

When one staff publishes sports sections for several papers, dues must have been paid accordingly, with the combined circulation determining the category. If you didn’t follow this procedure when you paid dues, your contest entries are subject to disqualification.

How are writing entries judged?

◾Preliminary judges will select the top 10 stories in each group as finalists. Each judge, separately and on a secret ballot, will list the stories in order from 1 to 10, with 1 being the best story. The final 10 will be given to a second judging group, which also will rank the stories 1-10 in the same fashion as the first group. The final judges’ ballots and the final 10 stories will be turned into the contest chair. The chair will tally all the votes awarding points in reverse order (No. 1 story gets 10 points, No. 2 gets 9, etc.) It is the responsibility of the entering news organization, based on the judging guidelines, to select the proper division in which an entry should be placed.

◾For articles that appeared in the newspaper as columns but are entered in game, feature or news divisions, the judging group will have disqualification authority.

 

How does the section contest work?

There are section categories for Daily, Sunday and Special sections.

Entries must include a 3-by-5 index card or facsimile with section division, news organization name, city, daily circulation, circulation category, and days of publication.

The information on the card should mirror the following format:

◾Section division: (Example Daily)

◾Newspaper: (Example Daily Bugle)

◾City: (Example Dallas, Texas)

◾Daily circulation: (Example 212,000)

◾Dates of publication: (Example Two dates from the mandatory windows and two optionals of your choosing for Daily sections; Two mandatory dates and two optionals for Sunday.)

◾Circulation category: (Example Over 175,000).

◾The Daily section entries must contain four issues. This includes the two mandatory dates. The two optional issues in the daily divisions may come from any days except Sunday.

◾The Sunday section entry must contain four issues, including the two mandatory dates. On mandatory dates, papers enter all sports-related content from that day’s paper, including special sections and page A-1 material.

◾Optional day entries may include: self-contained sports sections, sports-related Page A1 material and special sections that may include live (or yesterday) content and regular-scheduled preview content.

◾Stand-alone special preview (season and major event) sections are not allowed for optional-day entries.

◾On mandatory dates, papers enter all sports-related content, including special sections.

◾Optional day entries may include self-contained sports sections, sports-related A-1 material and special sections that include live content and regularly-scheduled preview content. Stand-alone special preview (season and major event) sections are not allowed for optional-day entries. Special sections that are not live may not be entered with optional entries.

◾Judges will select – but not rank – the top 10 sections in each circulation category and will select as many as 10 honorable mentions.

NOTE: Sunday entries must be published on Sundays – not weekend editions that publish on Saturdays or Monday editions for papers that do not publish on Sunday.

Section mandatory dates:

Sunday: April 26, 2015; with a second Sunday date TBD on Dec. 31, 2015

Daily: One paper chosen from the week of Jan. 5 to Jan. 10, 2015 (Monday through Saturday are eligible), with second group of dates TBD on Dec. 31, 2015

 

Section catchers:

Under 30:

Dana Sulonen, Sports Editor

Opelika-Auburn News

2901 Society Hill Road

Opelika, AL 36804

30-75:

Roger Simmons / Sports

Orlando Sentinel

633 N. Orange Ave.

Orlando, FL 32801

 

75-175:

Jorge Rojas

Miami Herald

Attn: Sports

3511 NW 91st Ave.

Doral, FL. 33172

 

Over 175:

Kathy Laughlin

Sports Department

Sun Sentinel

500 E. Broward Blvd. # 900

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33394

How are Daily/Sunday sections judged?

The best sections offer coverage, news, features and opinion, supported by scores, results and standings of the day’s activities as needed to reflect the interest of the readership. There should be an appeal to the fanatic as well as the casual fan – and an attempt to satisfy a range of readership diversity. Judges should look closely at three areas of content:

◾Subject matter: Determine the quality of staff-written material. Space should be used wisely. Big-event coverage should be coordinated to avoid overlap. News should be played properly, and judges should look at reaction to breaking news. Where there are few professional teams, judges should look for strong treatment of college, high school and other results. Even where there are no professional teams, there should be coverage of such national stories as the Super Bowl, World Series, etc. Game coverage should reflect the reality of the web and have strong analytical and commentary components. Judges should look at the agate package – are there scores, statistics, standings and box scores to fit the needs of the readership within the confines of available space? Examples: Does a paper with interest in pro teams run enough information in home team and league-wide box scores? Does a paper in a prep-dominated area run enough names and statistical leaders?

◾Enterprise: Judges must note if there is an effort to bring something extra. Does the section offer features, trend pieces, scoops, innovative standing features or reader nuggets? Do efforts show originality and a high level of reporting and writing? Is there an effort to entertain as well as inform? Are there light touches? Is there over-reliance on wires? Reliance on wires is OK on some days, but not as a steady diet.

◾Organization and editing: The section should be easy on the reader. Look for consistency in positioning of standing features. See if related material is grouped. Headlines should be clear, yet appealing. There should be the proper mix of breakout boxes or pullouts that enhance stories. At-a-glance information should be organized and well positioned. Judges should look for staff editing that improves content of wires. A section’s editing should reflect its space. A small section, for example, should be tightly edited and what it does have room to do, it does exceptionally well.

How do I enter a special section?

◾Must be accompanied by a 3-by-5 index card or facsimile that specifies the section as a special section entry and lists the name of the newspaper, city, daily circulation and circulation category. (See format above).

◾Examples: Commemorative to mark the success of a team, a sports event (like Olympics) or the death of a major personality; a theme section on running, fishing, hunting, auto racing, etc. The section may contain live news (stories in which a team wins a championship) related to the theme, but it may not include unrelated articles.

◾One per paper: Newspapers may submit only one special section. This includes one-subject or one-theme sections issued one time.

◾What’s not eligible: Special sections sold only as stand-alone products on newsstands or elsewhere are not eligible. The special section must have been part of the regular newspaper run.

◾What else is not eligible: Stories entered as a special section entry may not also be entered as a project writing entry.

How are special sections judged?

◾Does the section have spunk? Does it project impact on big events?

◾Does it grab? Is it distinctive? Does it have imagination and originality?

Photos & graphics: Is there a coordinated presentation of pictures, graphics and articles that give a grasp of the big stories? Does it make sense? Is it attractive? Does it help the reader understand? Does it illustrate? Do the graphics go with the articles they are supposed to illustrate? Are there enough pictures or perhaps too many? Are they properly sized? Are they easily understood? Judges may consider color reproduction.

◾Is it well written, well edited and truly special. Is the content useful, informative and/or entertaining?

◾Judges will select – but not rank – the top 10 sections in each circulation category and will select as many as 10 honorable mentions.

How do I enter the multimedia contest?

Multimedia includes interactive graphics, audio, slideshows or combinations thereof, or anything else that falls under the broad description of multimedia other than simple videos. Entries will be judged, foremost, on the strength of storytelling. Visual and auditory quality will be considered.

◾A single story may be a series on the same topic (such as following a team through a season) with a limit of five installments per entry.

◾A cover letter (follow standard format above) can be submitted with the entry. In instances where the multimedia entry supplemented a written story, that should be summarized in the cover letter. The story itself may be submitted for background purposes and can be read at the judges’ discretion. The written story will not be a part of the material judged.

◾Judges will select a Top 5 and up to five honorable mention entries — unless the number of entries, at the contest chair’s discretion, supports expanding the number of entries.

Categories are the same as for all other divisions:

Category A: Over 175,000/more than 2 million unique monthly visitors

Category B: 75,001 to 175,000/from 750,001 to 1.999 million unique monthly visitors

Category C: 30,000 to 75,000/from 250,000 to 750,000 unique monthly visitors

Category D: Under 30,000/less than 250,000 unique monthly visitors

_ Two entries per organization.

_ Create a Google doc with the URL to your multimedia entry and then upload that to your organization’s folder.

 

How do I enter the video contests?

Video entries will be placed in one of two categories:

_ Up to 2 Minutes

_ Over 2 Minutes

Entries will be judged, foremost, on the strength of storytelling. Visual and auditory quality will be considered.

◾A cover letter (follow standard format above) can be submitted with the entry. In instances where the multimedia entry supplemented a written story, that should be summarized in the cover letter. The story itself may be submitted for background purposes and can be read at the judges’ discretion. The written story will not be a part of the material judged.

◾Judges will select a Top 5 and up to five honorable mention entries — unless the number of entries, at the contest chair’s discretion, supports expanding the number of entries honored.

Categories for video contest entries are the same as for Multimedia and all other contest entries, by circulation for news organizations with a daily print product or unique monthly visitors for website/digital-only members. See above for details

_ One entry per organization per category (i.e. one entry in Up to 2 Minutes and one entry in Over 2 minutes).

_ Create a Google doc with the URL to your multimedia entry and then upload that to your organization’s folder.

____________________

UPLOAD LINKS for all news organizations to use for entries will be posted here by Jan. 1.

 

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