Award Guidelines

Welcome to the 2021 PMJA Annual Awards Competition. All entries submitted to the competition must have aired during calendar year 2020.  The deadline for submitting entries is March 1, 2021 at 11:59 P.M. Eastern time.  If you have any questions or concerns, we'll do our best to address them. Please contact Christine Paige Diers with any questions at christine@pmja.org.

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 Christine Paige Diers at christine@pmja.org to get set up.

Please check your division upon initial login. If there is a mistake, you must contact Christine Paige Diers at christine@pmja.org to make the change.

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:

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

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

Continuing Coverage - A series of stories those covers an issue or event as it evolves over time. 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

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

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

News Feature - One feature on a news-related topic. For work in calendar year 2020, COVID-19 and Social Justice stories will not be eligible for this category. Those pieces should be entered in the COVID-19 or Social Justice Feature category. TIME LIMIT 15 MINUTES

Feature - One feature on a cultural or human interest topic. Hard news and investigative features do not belong in this category. For work in calendar year 2020, COVID-19 and Social Justice stories will not be eligible for this category. Those pieces should be entered in the COVID-19 or Social Justice Feature category. TIME LIMIT 15 MINUTES

COVID-19 Feature – One feature focused on COVID-19. This is a special category for calendar year 2020. TIME LIMIT 15 MINUTES.

Social Justice Feature – One feature focused on social justice. This category is focused on social justice issues like the response to the George Floyd killing. This could include protests, police accountability and other issues of social justice. This is a special category for calendar year 2020. TIME LIMIT 15 MINUTES.

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

Newscast - One unedited newscast, produced on one of our five newscast days. Those dates were January 29, March 10, May 19, August 7, and November 19. TIME LIMIT 10 MINUTES

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

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

Writing – One story that exhibits exceptional writing (include printed script with actualities fully transcribed) TIME LIMIT 15 MINUTES

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

Enterprise - A story or series of stories that demonstrates significant journalism that breaks new grouna 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

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 hav impact or potenail for impact and change.  TIME LIMIT 40 MINUTES

Multi-Media Presentation – Best multi-media 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.

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

Podcast - One digital-first journalism audio project built with the intent of online audiences. Enter the “most representative” episode in a series. TIME LIMIT 60 MINUTES NOTE: For this category 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 only.

Collaborative Effort - Recognizes the efforts put forth 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 IS 30 MINUTES

STUDENT CATEGORIES:

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

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

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

Multi-Media Presentation – Best multi-media 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.

NOTE: Up to three of the student award winners will receive a $500 scholarship. The first and second place finishers in the student categories will be asked to write an essay about public radio. The PMJA board will award the scholarships after reviewing the essays.

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 2020. All entries must be submitted by a local public radio station or regional public radio network.

SPECIAL NOTE ON LJC’s, RJC's & State Impact Projects:  LJC’s, RJC's and State Impact Projects will be allowed to submit PMJA Entries as a regional network, but must compete in Group A with the large stations. If your LJC, RJC or State Impact Project is not listed in the station list, you must contact Christine Paige Diers, christine@pmja.org, prior to entering in order to be added to the contest database.

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. 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. (ex. edited by an NPR editor or produced by a network show producer would only be eligible to enter under nationally edited categories.)

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. (ex. 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 March 1, 2021.  The entry system will automatically close at 11:59 p.m. eastern time the night of March 1.

FEES: PMJA member rate: $60 per entry. Non-member rate: $85 per entry. Student rate: $40 per entry. All payments must be made online or mailed with a postmark on or before March 1, 2021. If payment is not received within one week of March 1, entries will be disqualified.

PMJA will accept payment by check or you can pay through our website using credit card.  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 you are paying by credit card, click “Click here to pay with your credit card.”  You will be taken directly to our secure online payment page.  Enter the entire amount due (from your “calculate entry fees” page), click “Check Out” and follow the instructions to check out.

If the entry fees are calculated as non-member, it indicates you have not yet renewed your membership for 2020.  To confirm your membership status, or to become a PMJA member, call or e-mail Christine Paige Diers at (605) 490-3033 or christine@pmja.org.