Award Guidelines

Welcome to the 2023 PMJA Annual Awards Competition. All entries submitted to the competition must have aired during calendar year 2022.  The deadline for submitting entries is Feb. 24, 2023 at 11:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time.  If you have any questions or concerns, we'll do our best to address them. Please contact us with any questions at awards@pmja.org.


Enter the Contest Entry FAQ Step-By-Step Guide

Stations are divided into divisions based on staff size.  The divisions are as follows:

  • Division AA - Stations with 16 or more full-time news staff.

  • Division A - Stations with 8-15 full-time staff

  • Division B - Stations with 4-7 full-time staff

  • Division C - Stations with 1-3 full-time staff

  • Independent Division - Available only in the Podcast category.  In order to enter as an independent, you will need to contact us at awards@pmja.org to get set up.

  • Freelancers – Freelancers can enter the special ‘Features produced by freelancers’ category.  To enter, please contact us at awards@pmja.org to get set up in the Better BNC system.

Please check your division upon initial login (located in the top right corner of your initial awards page).  If there is a mistake, you must contact us at awards@pmja.org to make the change.  Please click on “My Account” and update any incorrect information.

There is no limit to the number of entries each station may submit in each category.  Entries can be cut to fit the time limit indicated by choosing a continuous segment to submit.  Editing within the piece or segment is not allowed.

PMJA CONTEST CATEGORIES

Arts Feature – One feature for coverage of the arts. TIME LIMIT 15 MINUTES

Audience Engagement Program - One news/public affairs program with an audience engagement component.  Audience engagement can include call-in, tweets, Facebook posts, emails, and other types of engagement.  TIME LIMIT: 60 MINUTES

Audio Scripting – One story that exhibits exceptional writing for audio (include printed script w/actualities fully transcribed) TIME LIMIT: 15 MINUTES

Breaking News - One or more stories on an unscheduled breaking news event, aired within the first 24 hours. TIME LIMIT: 60 MINUTES

Collaborative Effort - Recognizes the efforts by two or more local stations working together on a specific project or a public radio station working with another entity on a specific project. NOTE:  This category is open to formal collaborations (LJC, RJC, etc.) and to less formal collaborations. In addition to the finished project, this entry must include a completed questionnaire. Informal collaborations should contact Christine Paige Diers to have a new contestant set up in the Better BNC system for entry in this category.  Collaborations will compete at the division of the largest station involved in the effort.   A single award plaque will be presented for the winner - duplicates can be ordered at the expense of the winners.  Entries in this category are still eligible to enter in other categories as well.  TIME LIMIT: 30 MINUTES

Commentary - One essay that presents a persuasive or creative viewpoint. TIME LIMIT: 15 MINUTES

Continuing Coverage - A series of stories covering an issue or event as it evolves over time. TIME LIMIT: 60 MINUTES

Digital Writing – One story that demonstrates outstanding online news-
writing skills. The story may have accompanying multimedia components, but only the written story will be judged.

DOCUMENTARIES (two categories):

Long Documentary - A stand-alone program that addresses one issue or topic with a run time of 29:01 or longer. TIME LIMIT: 60 MINUTES

Short Documentary - A stand-alone program that addresses one issue or topic not to exceed 29 minutes in length. TIME LIMIT: 29 MINUTES

Enterprise – A story or series of stories that demonstrates significant journalism that breaks new ground and/or approaches a story from a unique and compelling angle.  Enterprise reporting goes deeper than daily reporting, providing fresh perspective, compelling voices, thoughtful analysis and clear and complete treatment of an issue or event.  TIME LIMIT: 40 MINUTES

FEATURES (four categories):

Feature - One feature on a cultural or human interest topic. Hard news and investigative features do not belong in this category. TIME LIMIT: 15 MINUTES

News Feature - One feature on a news-related topic.  TIME LIMIT: 15 MINUTES

SPECIAL FEATURE CATEGORY: Underrepresented communities - One of the many tenets of journalism is amplifying voices that often go unheard. This year’s special category is for a feature focused on a historically underrepresented community in a station’s listening area, whether that community has been simply overlooked, ignored or oppressed. We hope that this broad category provides the chance to spotlight issues affecting those underrepresented communities, such as health inequities, redlining and voting rights.

Each year, PMJA will choose a topic area for this special category. This is a special category for calendar year 2022. TIME LIMIT: 15 MINUTES

Features produced by freelancers - A single feature on a cultural, human interest or news-related topic. TIME LIMIT:  15 MINUTES. This category is open to freelance reporters who have produced work for a local public radio station.  Freelancers will compete against other freelancers in this category. All freelancers will need to contact Christine Paige Diers to have an account set up in the Better BNC system. Freelancers will be allowed to enter at the member rate. Work completed by freelancers in other categories will need to be entered by the local station at which the work was aired.

Interview - One interview segment. May be part of a news/public affairs program. TIME LIMIT: 30 MINUTES

Investigative Reporting – A story or series of stories that uncovers facts that someone or some entity has tried to keep from public scrutiny or tried to reframe or misrepresent. These stories show excellence in documentation and data and have impact or potential for impact and change.  TIME LIMIT: 40 MINUTES

Multimedia Presentation – Best multimedia presentation on a single story or series of stories on a single topic.  Submit all applicable URLs along with a narrative not to exceed one page.

News/Public Affairs Program - One regularly scheduled news/public affairs program. TIME LIMIT: 60 MINUTES

Newscast - One unedited newscast, produced on one of our four newscast days.  Those dates were Feb.24, May 17, Aug. 2 and Nov. 14. TIME LIMIT: 10 MINUTES

Photojournalism – A single still photo that helps tell a story that is relevant to the local community.  Please submit the photo caption that accompanied the photo as well as a single paragraph explaining how you got or framed the shot and what story this photo tells.

PODCAST (two categories):

Interview Podcast - One digital-first journalism audio project in the traditional interview style built with the intent of online audiences.  Enter the “most representative” episode in a series. TIME LIMIT: 60 MINUTES NOTE:  For the podcast categories only, there is an Independent Division for non-station produced podcasts.  Podcasts that are produced and edited locally but distributed nationally are allowable for this category.

Narrative/Produced Podcast - One digital-first journalism audio project in the traditional narrative or produced style built with the intent of online audiences.  Enter the “most representative” episode in a series. TIME LIMIT: 60 MINUTES NOTE:  For the podcast categories only, there is an Independent Division for non-station produced podcasts.  Podcasts that are produced and edited locally but distributed nationally are allowable for this category.

Series - A scheduled series of stories on one issue or topic. TIME LIMIT: 40 MINUTES

Sports Feature – One feature covering a sports or competition related topic that is not play-by-play coverage of a specific event.  TIME LIMIT: 15 MINUTES

Spot News – Best spot on any topic less than 2 minutes in length. TIME LIMIT: 2 MINUTES

Use of Sound – One story that shows a creative and effective use of sound to help tell the story. TIME LIMIT 15 MINUTES

NATIONALLY EDITED PIECES:  Pieces that have been edited by a national editor will be allowed in the following categories. Please note that all stations will compete against one another in these categories - there are no division designations when entering nationally edited pieces.

Nationally Edited Coverage – This category may include breaking news, news features, series or continuing coverage.  TIME LIMIT: 60 MINUTES

Nationally Edited Feature - One feature on a cultural or human interest topic. Hard news and investigative features do not belong in this category. TIME LIMIT: 15 MINUTES

STUDENT CATEGORIES

These categories are open to high school students and students attending a two-year or four-year college or university. Graduate students also are eligible. Work submitted must have been produced while the student was enrolled.

  • To be eligible, an entry must have been broadcast or published. Class exercises that were not broadcast or published are ineligible.
  • Students with any full-time professional journalism experience are ineligible. A group entry that includes a contribution from someone with full-time professional experience will be disqualified.
  • An entry produced by a student while working as an intern in a professional journalism setting is eligible.

FEATURES (two categories)

Feature - One feature on a cultural or human interest topic. Hard news and investigative features do not belong in this category. TIME LIMIT: 15 MINUTES

News Feature - One feature on a news-related topic. TIME LIMIT: 15 MINUTES

Multimedia Presentation – Best multimedia presentation on a single story or series of stories on a single topic.  Submit all applicable URLs along with a narrative not to exceed one page.

Newscast - One unedited newscast produced any day of the year. TIME LIMIT: 10 MINUTES

PODCAST (two categories):

Interview Podcast - One digital-first journalism audio project in the traditional interview style built with the intent of online audiences.  Enter the “most representative” episode in a series. TIME LIMIT 60: MINUTES.

Narrative/Produced Podcast - One digital-first journalism audio project in the traditional narrative or produced style built with the intent of online audiences.  Enter the “most representative” episode in a series. TIME LIMIT: 60 MINUTES.

Spot News – Best spot on any topic less than 2 minutes in length. TIME LIMIT: 2 MINUTES

NATIONALLY EDITED PIECES

Pieces that have been edited by a national editor will be allowed in the following categories. Please note that all stations will compete against one another in these categories - there are no division designations when entering nationally edited pieces.

Nationally Edited Coverage – This category may include breaking news, news features, series or continuing coverage.  TIME LIMIT: 60 MINUTES

Nationally Edited Feature - One feature on a cultural or human interest topic. Hard news and investigative features do not belong in this category. TIME LIMIT: 15 MINUTES

  • All entries must have aired during Calendar Year 2022.  
  • Except where indicated in the instructions, all entries must be submitted by a local public radio station or regional public radio network.  
  • SPECIAL NOTE ON Collaborations including LJC’s, RJC's and State Impact Projects: Collaborations will be allowed to submit PMJA Entries as a regional network, but must compete in Group AA with the large stations. If your collaboration is not listed in the station list, you must contact us at awards@pmja.org prior to entering in order to be added to the contest database.  Collaborations can enter at the member rate by joining PMJA through their host station. The membership fee for collaborations will be $200. Collaborations that have not joined through the host station will be charged the non-member rate.
  • Student entries can either be entered through the school where the work was completed or the public radio station on which the work aired.  
  • Time limits for each category are indicated in the description of those categories. Entries can be cut to fit the time limit indicated by choosing a continuous segment to submit. Editing within the piece or segment is not allowed.
  • Stations may submit a story in more than one category. 

GUIDELINES ON WHAT IS CONSIDERED LOCAL

Except where allowed as nationally edited categories, the intent of the PMJA Awards is to honor the very best in local public radio. As outlined below, the awards are not appropriate for the work done by stations and freelancers producing for a national network, or by a station that is producing material with the intention of it being national in scope. The PMJA Awards Committee and its judges will follow these guidelines. If you have any questions, please contact the contest coordinator Christine Paige Diers at (605) 490-3033 or christine@pmja.org

All work on the entry must be performed exclusively by the station. (Example: edited by an NPR editor or produced by a network show producer would only be eligible to enter under nationally edited categories.)   

  1. Except where allowed by the podcast category, entries distributed by a national distributor (NPR, PRI, APM) will only be eligible for the nationally edited categories (ex. a piece that airs on The World or a show that is distributed by NPR would not be eligible for local categories)  
  2. A show or piece that is produced and aired locally and is then shared with other stations is allowed under the local categories. (Example: Local product that is distributed in its original form via PRX, a state network, or independently organized distribution is allowed)  

DEADLINE

All entries must be submitted by February 24, 2023.  The entry system will automatically close at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time the night of Feb. 24.

FEES

PMJA member rate: $65 per entry. Nonmember rate: $100 per entry. Freelance rate: $65 per entry. Student rate: $40 per entry. All payments must be made online or mailed with a postmark on or before Feb. 24, 2023. If payment is not received within one week of February 24, entries will be disqualified.

PMJA will accept payment by check or you can pay using PayPal through this contest entry site.  When you have completed all of your entries, click “calculate entry fees” from your entries page.

If you are paying by check, print the entry fee page and send it, along with your check payable to PMJA to:

PMJA Awards
P.O. Box 838
Sturgis, SD 57785

If the entry fees are calculated at the nonmember rate, it indicates you have not yet renewed your membership for 2023.  To confirm your membership status, or to become a PMJA member, contact us at awards@pmja.org or visit our website at www.pmja.org.