Rules of the SEJ
Awards for Reporting on the
NAME AND PURPOSE: The
Society of Environmental Journalists
Awards for Reporting on the Environment
honor the year's most outstanding
journalism on environmental
GOVERNANCE: Annually, at its January meeting, the SEJ Board of Directors will appoint an awards committee consisting of at least three people, including a chairperson or co-chairs, each of whom will serve one-year terms. The committee must always have an odd number of members to avoid evenly split votes, and the board must appoint a replacement if there is a mid-year vacancy. The awards committee is responsible for establishing, amending and interpreting the contest rules, appointing judges and otherwise assisting the SEJ staff in administering the contest. The judging panels appointed by the awards committee are responsible for choosing place-winners from among those entries in each category that comply with the contest rules. The SEJ staff is responsible for day-to-day administration of the contest, in consultation with the awards committee. Only the judging panels may select the contest winners, not the awards committee or the SEJ board or staff.
PRIZE: A $10,000 prize is offered for the book judged
as the best
of the year. A $1,000 first-place prize may be awarded in all other categories except the student category. In the student category, the judges may award the winner a $250 first-place prize, free registration at SEJ's annual conference and up to $750 in travel and lodging expenses related to the SEJ conference. In all categories in which they have selected a winner, judges also may choose second- and third-place finishers. In categories where judges have not selected any place-winners, they may choose up to three entries as honorable mentions. Cash awards for second place, or for second and third place, may be offered if approved by the awards committee and the executive director, in consultation with the board of directors. No cash prizes are given for honorable mentions. At the discretion of the executive director, additional considerations, including conference fee waivers, may be awarded to second- and third-place winners or honorable mentions in the student category.
Any journalist may enter unless he or
she is a member of the SEJ Board of
Directors, Awards Committee or the SEJ
staff. Exception will be made if an SEJ
board member is part of a group entry,
provided that the board member did not
play a significant role. Judges may
enter except in a category to which
their panel is assigned. Students may
enter work that was published or
broadcast in a media outlet accessible
to the general public.
Only journalism that is predominantly about an environmental subject is eligible for the contest. The awards committee is the final authority for determining whether an entered story meets that standard.
Books must have been published during the calendar year directly preceding the contest deadline, i.e., January 1 - December 31, 2008, for the contest closing April 1, 2009. All other entries: Only journalism that is published or broadcast (including cable) in a media outlet accessible to the general public during the most recently completed 12-month period that began March 1 and ended the last day of February may be entered in the contest.
Series that begin or end during the designated contest period qualify in their entirety, but a specific series may only be entered in one contest year, and rules concerning the number of stories to be submitted for each category still apply. A story that has been entered in the contest may not be entered in another category or in a subsequent year's contest, even if it has been republished in a different medium (print to web, for example). Stories or projects funded by or through SEJ are not eligible. Work published in web logs and other personal web sites is eligible for the online and student categories as long as the site is accessible to the general public.
Entries in languages other than English
must be accompanied by a complete and
accurate English translation.
GROUP ENTRIES: In addition to individuals, groups may enter as a team. Only individuals may enter, not publications, stations or other corporate entities. All reporters whose names appear on the submitted stories must be listed on a separate sheet and included with the entry form. Other journalists who contributed to the submitted stories (such as producers, editors, graphic artists and photographers) may be listed if the submitter chooses to do so. For the beat-reporting categories listed below, the same individual or group of individuals must have written or produced all reports submitted for judging. If a team is awarded prize money, the cash award will be divided among the journalists whose names are listed on the entry according to whatever division formula the team has specified on its entry form. SEJ may, for budgetary reasons, choose to limit the number of individual certificates or other materials presented to winning group entries.
categories for the contest are as
Individuals or groups may participate in more than one entry per year, in the same category or in different categories. However, no story may be included in more than one entry and each entry must be mailed separately with a separate entry fee. This means, for example, that the same package of stories cannot be entered in more than one category and each story in a package may be part of only one entry.
ENTRY FEE: SEJ members in good standing, or teams that include at least one SEJ member, must pay SEJ a fee of $30 per entry to be eligible for judging in all categories except the book ($50 entry fee for members) and student categories ($15 for members). Entrants in the student category who qualify for membership may pay a special fee of $25 that covers one contest entry and one year's membership in SEJ; qualified book entrants pay $80. Non-members who do not wish to join must pay $50 for student entries, $125 for book entries and $80 per entry in all other categories. Non-members who are not entering the student or book categories and wish to join SEJ for the first time and who qualify for membership may pay a special rate of $50 that covers one contest entry and the first year's membership in SEJ. Group entries pay the same fee as individuals, but groups or individuals that enter the contest more than once in the same year must pay a separate fee for each entry. Groups pay the SEJ member rate if at least one of the reporters is an SEJ member.
COPIES OF ENTERED
Rachel Carson Environment Book Award
Definition: A published nonfiction book covering a topic of environment journalism.
Outstanding Beat or In-Depth Reporting, Radio
Definition: Up to five radio reports, with a combined total running time of no more than 60 minutes, on one or more environmental subjects.
Outstanding Beat or In-Depth Reporting, Television
Definition: Up to five television reports, with a combined total running time of no more than 60 minutes, on one or more environmental subjects.
Outstanding Story, Television, Large Market
Definition: A single television report, up to ten minutes long, on an
environmental subject. (Eligible: national networks in U.S.
and elsewhere and top 10 markets in U.S. as determined by
Outstanding Story, Television, Small Market
Definition: A single television report, up to ten minutes long, on an environmental
subject. (Eligible: all networks falling outside the
large market definition, above.)
Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting, Print
Definition: An investigative story, series or occasional series of up to four parts on a single environmental subject, published in a newspaper, magazine, wire service, newsletter or other print medium. Only four parts of a longer series may be entered. Related stories published on the same day count as one part. (Kevin Carmody, a prize-winning investigative reporter and a founding board member of SEJ, died in 2005.)
Outstanding Explanatory Reporting, Print
Definition: A story, series or occasional series of up to four parts that illuminates a significant and complex environmental subject, demonstrating mastery of the subject, lucid writing and clear presentation. The story or stories must be published in a newspaper, magazine, wire service, newsletter or other print medium. Only four parts of a longer series may be entered. Related stories published on the same day count as one part.
Outstanding Beat Reporting, Print
Definition: Up to seven stories on various environmental subjects, published in a newspaper, magazine, wire service, newsletter or other print medium. Related stories published on the same day count as one story.
Outstanding Small-Market Reporting, Print
Definition: Up to four stories on related or unrelated environmental topics initially published in a newspaper, magazine, wire service, newsletter or other print medium with a circulation of less than 100,000. Related stories published on the same day count as one story.
Outstanding Online Reporting
Definition: Up to four stories on one or more environmental subjects. Entered stories may not simply be online versions of print, television or radio stories. They must be prepared either specifically for an online news outlet or for other media but displayed online with significant use of Internet-only tools demonstrating the power of online display. Examples include but are not limited to: streaming audio or video, podcasts, hyperlinks to additional documentation or web sites, interactive quizzes or simulations. Original work published in web logs and other personal web sites is also eligible as long as the site is accessible to the general public. Related stories published on the same day count as one story.
Outstanding Student Reporting.
Definition: A student-produced story or series on a single environmental subject in print, online, or on radio or television. Entrants in this category must have been students in a degree-granting program at the time their work was published or broadcast. Students who have had prior full-time, professional journalism experience, outside of internships, are not eligible to enter. Eligible work must have been published or broadcast in a media outlet accessible to the general public or the campus community. Work published, broadcast or produced while working as a student intern is eligible. Only four parts of a longer series may be entered. Related stories published or broadcast on the same day count as one story.
Entries must be accompanied by a supporting letter, written by the entrant or a supervisor, providing supporting information about the entered stories, including the resources that went into reporting them, their impact and the deadlines or any other obstacles the reporters faced. If the entered stories are part of a longer series, this letter may also briefly summarize stories not included in the entry. The supporting letter may not be longer than one side of an 8½ by 11 sheet of paper, using 10-point type or larger. Entrants should not submit any additional supporting material, and judges may not consider any additional material submitted.
must be postmarked no later than
April 1, 2009, to qualify for
judging in that year's contest.
ENTRY: An entry will be considered
complete and eligible for judging if it
complies with the contest rules and
includes the correct entry fee plus
FIVE legible copies of the following: a
completed entry form (on top), the
supporting letter (below the entry
form), and the entered stories (on
bottom). Some entrants may also be
asked to provide documentation
demonstrating that they are eligible
for the category they are
NON-COMPLYING ENTRIES: The awards committee or the committee chair or co-chairs may disqualify entries that are incomplete, illegible (exceptionally small type or poor photocopying), or otherwise do not comply with the contest rules. In cases where the staff or awards committee determines that an entry is substantially but not fully complete, the committee or SEJ staff may contact entrants and give them extra time to provide any missing copies or other required information after the regular entry deadline. But no additional documentation will be accepted without approval of the awards committee. Entry fees will not be refunded to disqualified entrants.
The SEJ awards committee may switch
entries between categories if the
committee determines the entry was
JUDGES: For each category it establishes, the awards committee each year will appoint a panel of at least three judges, including a panel chairperson responsible for making sure the panel follows the rules, meets the judging deadline and writes citations for the place-winners. Each panel must have an odd number of judges to avoid evenly split votes. At its discretion, the awards committee may appoint the same judge or judging panels to select winners in more than one category. All judges will be selected before June 1, and preferably earlier, for the contest being judged the following month.
JUDGING: All judges must be either
news professionals, or journalism
educators, or have similar
qualifications the awards committee
considers appropriate. Judges must read
and familiarize themselves with the
contest rules and abide by them.
Members of the SEJ awards committee,
the SEJ governing board and SEJ staff
may not serve as judges. Judges serve
REMOVAL AND REPLACEMENT
OF JUDGES: The awards committee
will appoint a replacement for any
judge unable or unwilling to follow the
contest rules or otherwise fulfill
his/her obligations as a judge in the
contest. Mere disagreement with a
judge's selection of a winner is not
grounds for removal by the awards
committee. If the awards committee
determines that a judge it has selected
is not qualified, the committee will
name a replacement.
Judges must recuse themselves from judging or in any way discussing all entries from their own news organizations. (This does not apply to organizations that share a common corporate ownership but are managed separately, such as newspapers or stations in different cities that are owned by the same corporate parent.) Whenever a judge is uncertain whether a recusal should occur, the judge will contact the awards committee, which will determine whether a recusal is appropriate. A judge who has recused herself/himself from judging an entry may participate in judging the other entries in the same category. However, if a judging panel determines that, because of a recusal, it cannot reach a decision on selecting place-winners, the awards committee may replace the recused judge.
Judging panels must meet in person or via telephone conference call to select place-winners. The chairperson of each panel is responsible for selecting dates and times for judging that are convenient for the entire panel. Judges may never discuss contest entries with anyone outside their judging panel, and may not discuss entries with other panel members unless the entire panel is participating in the discussion. Judges will use their own judgment in determining which entries constitute the most outstanding journalism on environmental subjects in the categories they are judging. At its discretion, the awards committee may, at the beginning of the judging process, provide all of the contest's judges with standardized, non-binding guidelines to help judges evaluate entries. Judges must consider only the entered stories and the supplemental letter(s) in judging an entry. They may not consider any additional material.
JUDGES: Judges will contact the awards committee if they have questions about interpreting the rules of the contest, including whether an entry is in the correct category, whether a story is on an "environmental subject," or whether an entrant is eligible to participate. The awards committee, by majority vote, has the final authority to interpret the rules of the contest and will advise the judges accordingly. The committee's role in those cases is strictly limited to interpreting the contest rules and may not include expressing a preference for any particular entry.
NUMBER OF WINNERS:
The judges may select up to three
ranked place-winners or honorable
mentions in each category. Judges are
free to select fewer or no
place-winners, if they believe no
entries are deserving of the honors.
Ties are not allowed. No more than
three entrants may be honored per
DISPUTES: Judging panels will make every reasonable effort to reach a consensus in selecting place-winners. In case of a split decision, the majority rules. If a member of a judging panel believes a fellow judge is not following the rules of the contest, the complaining judge may contact the awards committee, which will determine whether the contest rules are being violated. Judging panels' selections of place-winners are final except in extraordinary cases in which the awards committee determines that the contest's rules have been violated. The awards committee may not overturn a judging panel's decision merely because the committee believes another entry is more worthy. The committee may act only if by majority vote it determines that the judging process violated the contest rules or that a place-winning entry must be disqualified for failing to comply with the rules. In that extraordinary case, the judging panel will promptly reconvene and make another selection. Under no circumstances will the awards committee, the SEJ board of directors or the SEJ staff select winners or honorable mentions.
CITATIONS FOR WINNING
ENTRIES: With input from the rest
of the panel, the judging chairperson
will write brief statements (at least
one paragraph each) explaining why the
place-winning entries are worthy of
special recognition. These citations
must be reviewed and approved in
writing by all members of the judging
panel, and then sent to the awards
committee chairperson(s). They may be
published later in SEJournal
and on SEJ's Internet newsgroups and
web pages after the winners are
JUDGING DEADLINE: All
judging panels must make their final
decision no later than July 1. By that
date, the chairperson of each panel
must inform the awards committee
chairperson(s) of the panel's decision
and send the committee the citations
for the winning entries. All judges on
each panel must independently
communicate their agreement with the
panel's decision. The committee
chairperson(s) will then review all the
place-winning entries and honorable
mentions to ensure that they comply
with contest rules.
Judges must never divulge any
information about their deliberations,
including their evaluation of
individual entries, except to inform
the awards committee about which
entries are award recipients and to
transmit the citations for the
prize-winning entries. The only
exception is that under extraordinary
circumstances judges may be asked by
the awards committee to discuss their
deliberations with the awards
committee, but only if the committee
believes that information will help the
committee determine whether the judging
process or a particular entry violates
the contest rules. In that case, the
awards committee will also keep that
WINNERS: Winners will be announced in early July. Awards will be presented at SEJ's annual conference.
DISPLAYING AND ARCHIVING
WINNERS: Copies of place-winning stories will be retained as an archive by SEJ and may be reproduced on the SEJ web site and in SEJ publications at SEJ's discretion.
RULES CHANGES: In
close consultation with the SEJ staff
and board of directors, the awards
committee by majority vote may amend
the contest rules prior to the call for
entries, including modifying the
categories, award amounts and entry
fees. The contest's budget, however,
must always remain within the limits
established by the SEJ executive
director and the board of
POSTING OF RULES:
Contest rules are posted on the public
portion of the SEJ Internet site. If
possible, the names and affiliations of
all judges and awards committee members
will also be posted there.
- Print category stories must be submitted in one of four ways: 1) clearly legible photocopies on paper measuring no smaller than 8.5 inches
by 11 inches and no larger than 11 inches by 17 inches, 2) clips mounted on paper, cardboard or similar material (clips mounted on cardboard or other stiff paper may not be larger
than 11 inches by 17 inches to allow for filing in the SEJ office), 3) reprints, or 4) printouts of PDF versions of print stories. In each case, the
submitted material must show the same stories, headlines, photos and graphics that appeared originally in print, without any additions or
deletions, and must be accompanied by at least one actual tearsheet or clipping. Tearsheets only are not accepted. News services may submit
computer printouts. SEJ also requests entrants in print categories to include, if possible, an electronic copy on CD for archiving.
- Television stories must be on VHS cassettes or DVD (digital video disc). It is the entrant's responsibility to make sure entered DVDs are
playable in multiple formats and readable on both PC and Mac.
- Radio stories must be on audio compact discs. It is the entrant's responsibility to ensure each copy is readable on both PC and Mac.
- Online entries must be submitted in one of three ways: 1) web addresses that are current and publicly accessible, 2) compact discs
showing exactly how the material appeared online or 3) legible printouts of exactly how the material appears (or appeared) online. In each
case, the submitted material may not reflect any changes made after the last day of February of the current contest year. Entries must also be
accompanied by complete instructions indicating which stories and web pages are to be judged. It is the entrant's responsibility to ensure
each copy is readable on both PC and Mac.
- Book entries must be submitted as published. Computer printouts or proofing copies will not be accepted.
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