Most journalism organizations now hold annual contests for digital media in addition to or in combination with traditional journalism categories.
“We have had online news stories (and other categories) submitted in the high school contest,” said Teri Ehresman, Media Network Idaho High School Communications Contest Director. “They are judged with the printed stories.”
State winners feed into the National Federation of Press Women national competition. “On the national level we have had discussions on printed vs online stories, but good writing is good writing,” she said.
According to quillandscroll.org, its 2013 call for entries included a blogging category for the first time. “We decided to add blogging for a couple of reasons: Blogging is generally an individual pursuit and that fits well with our mission of recognizing individual student accomplishments, and because it is a growing journalistic format in need of feedback,” said Vanessa Shelton, Quill and Scroll’s Executive Director.
Shelton said she is pleased with the number of entries, 20, received the first year.
Ehresman said, “We added the video category about four years ago.” Contest instructions state acceptance of news, feature, and sports from “a video produced for airing on television or via the Web.”
The desciption in full reads, “Judging will be based on how well the student has used video and narration/reporting to obtain a news story that presents new information or a new angle. Judging will consider quality of picture and sound, as well as overall editing. DVD is the only acceptable format. DVD should play on a consumer DVD player or PC. Entry should indicate the file format and the Mac or PC program in which the file was created.”
Even the Journalism Education Association added a Multimedia/Open category this year to its annual Journalist of the Year scholarship competition. In addition to writing, design, photography/videography, students may submit broadcast, photoshop, videography, product marketing tools (QR codes, for example), and community involvement samples. At the Fall 2012 JEA high school convention in San Antonio, the JOY portfolio session leaders discussed the necessity of adapting its contest categories for student journalists who might not have specialized only in writing.
Youth Journalism International holds a world-wide contest now in its fourth year. Executive Director Jackie Majerus said it “is seeing more links to online stories than ever before.” She added, “This year, we added multimedia categories for news, features, and sports,” although, it has “always accepted digital entries.”
Majerus acknowledged how important it is to judge youth journalists by high quality standards whether it is digital or traditional. “Not every journalist is a blogger and not every blogger is a journalist, so we are careful to judge all the work by the high quality standards we expect from top-notch youth reporters, photographers and artists.”
The transformation to support and promote more digital journalism via contests, however, is not without its growing pains.
Shelton from Quill and Scroll said, “One of the things we’re finding as we offer more digital journalism formats and evaluation techniques is that it also opens the door to digital competition management systems or methods of submitting, judging and processing entries. Some of these systems and methods require the redesign of contest materials and the development of instructions for entrants on the new way of submitting entries. They also can be quite costly. All of these factors influence the availability and the types of digital journalism contests.”