SEJ 2016 Awards — FAQs

Who is eligible to enter?
You don't have to be an SEJ member or an environment specialist to enter. Reporters who cover health, politics, science, energy, local government or any other beat are encouraged to enter their work on environmental subjects. SEJ welcomes entries from outside the U.S., but non-English entries must be accompanied by a complete English translation. Judges for this contest may enter except in a category to which her or his panel is assigned. Members of SEJ's Board of Directors, Awards Committee, SEJ staff and awards personnel may not enter. Exceptions will be made for group entries including an SEJ board member if that member did not play a significant role. Please see the complete rules for details on all categories.

Can I enter more than once? 
Yes, you can enter as many stories as you want. However, the same story may NOT be entered more than once. E.g., entering the same story in two different categories, or entering a single story in one category and including that story in a group of stories for a different category will result in the entry being disqualified, or the repeat story being pulled from an entry.

How do I submit my entry?
All entrants must complete an electronic entry form. There is a different form for each category. Forms are located at the bottom of the How to Enter page — click on the category of your choice to enter the form. No materials should be shipped except books entered into the Rachel Carson Environment Book category. Exception: If you're unable to supply your stories electronically, you can ship hard copies. See instructions here: Preparation Rules

If my entry is disqualified, will I be reimbursed? 
No. Staff time will have already been spent screening your entry for eligibility. There will be no refunds for entries that are ineligible or for entries that are withdrawn by the entrant. 

What is the deadline to enter?
Electronic forms:  April 1, 2016, 11:59 p.m. your local time
Mailed entries: Postmark on or before April 1, 2016

These are firm deadlines: if you click submit after 4/1/16 11:59 p.m. your local time, or ship after 4/1/16 your entry will not be accepted and your money will not be reimbursed. Be sure to leave yourself enough time! (If your entry is submitted late because of site malfunction, email the awards director, Chris Bruggers, or call her at (502) 641-1844.)

What prizes are offered?

First-place winning entries will receive $500, a trophy, certificate and discounts off that year's annual conference. Second- and third-place winners and honorable mentions will receive a certificate and discount for that year's annual conference.

How much does it cost?

$40: SEJ members in good standing, or teams that include at least one SEJ member in good standing (current with dues and eligibility criteria). SEJ members  must be on the reporting team to qualify the entry for the member rate.

$80: Non-members who wish to join SEJ for the first time and who qualify for membership. Eighty dollars covers one contest entry and a discounted first year of membership in SEJ.

$100: Non-members who do not wish to join 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 with a byline on the entry is a member of SEJ.

After submitting your entry form, the payment site will open. Please pay your fee immediately after submitting your entry form. For those needing to pay by check, the payment site includes a check option. Your entry will not be processed for judging until payment is received. 
What are the eligible air/publication dates?
Books: January 1 — December 31, 2015

All other entries: published or aired between March 1, 2015, and February 29, 2016. Check your category for the number of stories allowed.

What types of stories and which category should  I enter?
Each story entered in the contest must be predominantly about an environmental subject and must have been published or broadcast in a media outlet accessible to the general public.
     Kevin Carmody investigative reporting, large- and small-market categories: entries must be stories on a single environmental topic. Maximum five stories per entry plus supplemental materials. Judges will want to see evidence of digging to uncover information that would be missed in a lighter treatment of the story.
     Beat reporting, large- and small-market categories: entries must be stories and/or commentary that reflect a broad range of  environmental topics. Maximum five stories per entry plus supplemental materials. Work must be that of an individual, either alone or with a small supporting team.
     Feature story category entries must include one environmental interest story not directly tied to a recent news event with an emphasis on storytelling, while also including an explanatory aspect that sheds light on our environment and gives details to concepts or ideas. Maximum one story per entry plus supplemental materials.
     Explanatory story category entries must be a story, series or occasional series that illuminates a significant complex environmental subject, demonstrating mastery of the subject, storytelling and clear presentation. Maximum five stories per entry plus supplemental materials.
     Rachel Carson Book entries must be non-fiction books about environmental topics. Coffee-table books and memoirs are not eligible. One book per entry, plus supplemental materials.
If you are not sure which category you should enter, email the awards director, Chris Bruggers or call her at (502) 641-1844. The awards committee is the final authority for determining which category an entry belongs in and whether an entered story is eligible. Entry fees will not be returned for entries deemed not eligible.
What about a cover letter?
Cover letters are not mandatory, but can serve to explain aspects of your entry to the judges. 
May other people be part of my entry?
In addition to journalists working alone, reporting teams may be part of the same entry if the team worked together on the entered stories. Any reporter listed in a byline must be included. Only individuals or teams of individuals can enter; publications, stations,  websites, programs or networks may not enter. If a team wins, the prize will be sent to the individual whose name appears on the entry form for her or him to distribute. Team entries may include photographers, producers, artists, etc. At least one of the reporters with a byline in the entry must be a member of SEJ to qualify for the member rate.
How do I prepare my stories for entry? 
See the Preparation Rules page for instructions on acceptable uploads and how to prepare hard-copy entries if you can't supply links or PDFs. 
Who will select the winners?
Panels of journalists, journalism educators and other qualified individuals appointed by the awards committee will judge qualified entries and pick place-winners. Judges may select no winners in a category if they decide there are no deserving entries. 
When will the winners be announced?
Winners will be announced in July or August. Awards will be presented during SEJ's 26th Annual Conference in Sacramento, CA, to be held Sept. 21-25, 2016. 
What will happen to the winning entries?
Copies of place-winning stories will be retained as an archive by SEJ and may be reproduced on the SEJ website and in SEJ publications at SEJ’s discretion.
Questions? Email Chris Bruggers, awards director, or call (502) 641-1844.