SEJ 2015 Awards — FAQs

How do I know I'm eligible?

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.

How do I submit my entry?
Entrants first 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.

General Submission Guidelines:

DEADLINE TO ENTER: If you enter using the online form your entry must be submitted no later than midnight, your local time, April 1, 2015, to qualify for judging in that year's contest. If you mail your entry, the postmark date must be on or before April 1, 2015. This is a firm deadline: if you click submit after midnight your local time, or ship after April 1, 2015, 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.)

Print category stories may be submitted in one of six ways:

            1) Internet links entered through the electronic entry form. The web page or pages must clearly show the story or stories as they appeared in the original print version, with the same headlines, graphics and photos and complete, unaltered text;

            2) PDF files entered through the electronic entry form. The files must clearly show the story or stories as they appeared in the original print version, with the same headlines, graphics and photos, and complete, unaltered text;

            3) clearly legible photocopies on paper measuring no smaller than 8.5 inches by 11 inches and no larger than 11 inches by 17 inches;

            4) clips mounted on paper, cardboard or similar material no larger than 11 inches by 17 inches;

            5) reprints;

            6) 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 tear sheet or clipping. News services only may submit computer printouts without graphics.

Tear sheets are not accepted as entries, though one is requested to accompany photocopies or PDF printouts. SEJ also requests entrants sending print hard copies to include, if possible, an electronic copy on CD for archiving. Supplemental material, including online components, may be included.

            Television stories may be entered as links to websites where the videos can be viewed, or mailed on DVD (digital video disc). It is the entrant's responsibility to make sure entered links are current and viable, and that DVDs are playable in multiple formats and readable on both PC and Mac. Supplemental material, including online components, may be included. A complete transcript is required.

            Radio stories may be entered as links to websites where they can be listened to, or shipped on audio CDs. It is the entrant's responsibility to ensure entered links are current and viable, and that CDs work on both PC and Mac. Supplemental material, including online components, may be included. A complete transcript is required.

           Online entries may be submitted in one of three ways: 1) web addresses that are current and publicly accessible, 2) CDs or DVDs 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 disc is readable on both PC and Mac. A complete transcript is required for any audio or video components to the entry.

            Book entries must be submitted as published. Computer printouts or proofing copies will not be accepted. Send hard copies to Chris Bruggers at the address below. Do not send copies to the SEJ office. Before sending books, an online entry form must be completed and payment made. Publishers may include a check with the books. Books without an entry form and payment will not be sent to judges.

            Electronic books are eligible. Include detailed instructions on how to access the book. Please include the formats available to read the book. If a special reader app is needed, supply the name of the app to seach for in the entry form's "Reader App" field. If your book cannot be accessed without payment, you must supply the cost of four books plus $1.38 for postage so the director can send reimbursements to judges. If the reader app must be purchased, include the cost for four purchases. Make your check out to Christine Bruggers, SEJ Awards Director, and send to the address listed below. Please don't send your check to the SEJ office! This will delay getting your books to judges.

            Photo entries must be submitted as JPEG files, maximum 2 MB. Only photos published as photojournalism, either as part of a story or alone, will be accepted. Entered photos must not be manipulated or digitally enhanced in a way that changes the content and/or context of the image. A caption that describes the event or situation captured in the photograph must be included for each photo entered.

Hard-copy entries may be shipped to:

SEJ Awards
C/O Chris Bruggers, Awards Director
186 North Bellaire Ave
Louisville, KY 40206


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 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, 2014

All other entries must have been published between March 1, 2014, and February 28, 2015. 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 category 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 category 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. No supplemental materials will be accepted for this category.
     Rachel Carson Book entries must be non-fiction books about environmental topics. Coffee-table books and memoirs will not be accepted. One book per entry, plus supplemental materials.
     Photojournalism category entries may be about a single environmental topic or a variety of environmental topics. Maximum five photos 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?
SEJ has dropped the mandatory cover letter. You can still include one if you feel it's necessary to help explain aspects of your entry that cannot otherwise be conveyed. Upload this document in the space provided for supplental materials.
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. Only one of the reporting team must be a member of SEJ to qualify for the member rate.
May I enter more than once?
Yes, but only if you enter different stories each time . A separate entry form is required for each entry. If you mail hard copies, mail each entry separately with a separate entry fee. No story may be included in more than one entry, i.e., 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.
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 on Wed., Oct. 7, 2014, at SEJ's 25th Annual Conference in Norman, Oklahoma. 
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.