SEJ AWARDS: 2015 Rules
1. NAME AND PURPOSE: The Society of Environmental Journalists Awards for Reporting on the Environment honors the year's most outstanding journalism on environmental subjects.
2. 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 contest rules, appointing judges and otherwise assisting the awards director/s in administering the contest. Judging panels are appointed to contest categories by the awards committee and are responsible for choosing place-winners from entries that comply with contest rules. The awards director 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, staff or awards personnel.
3. PRIZES: One $500 first-place prize may be awarded in all categories. In categories where judges have not selected any place winners, they may choose up to three entries as honorable mentions. First-place winners are awarded $500, a plaque and a certificate. For winning teams, the prize check will be mailed to the designated team leader. Second- and third-place winners and honorable mentions will receive certificates.
4. ELIGIBLE ENTRANTS: Any journalist may enter unless he or she is a member of the SEJ Board of Directors, Awards Committee, SEJ staff or awards personnel. Exceptions 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, but not in a category in which they are judging.
5. ELIGIBLE SUBJECTS: 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.
6. ELIGIBLE ENTRIES: Books must have been published during the calendar year directly preceding the contest deadline, i.e., January 1 - December 31, 2014, for the contest closing April 1, 2015. All other entries: Only journalism that is published or broadcast (including cable) or online 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 produced by SEJ are not eligible. Work published in web logs and other personal web sites is eligible as long as the site is accessible to the general public.
7. NON-ENGLISH ENTRIES: Entries in languages other than English must be accompanied by a complete and accurate English translation.
8. GROUP ENTRIES: In addition to individuals, groups may enter as a team. Only individuals or groups of individuals may enter — not publications, stations or other corporate entities. All reporters whose names appear on the submitted stories must be included with the entry. 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, only an individual, either alone or with a small supporting team, can enter, and that individual must have written or produced all reports submitted for judging. In all categories, if a team is awarded prize money, the cash award will be sent to the reporting team leader for distribution. SEJ may, for budgetary reasons, choose to limit the number of individual certificates or other materials presented to winning group entries.
9. CATEGORIES: The categories for the contest are as follows:
Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting, Large Market: An investigative report or series on a single environmental topic, published between March 1, 2014, and February 28, 2015. Related stories published on the same day count as one part. TV & Radio stories must not exceed 60 minutes; Print and Online series must not exceed five parts. Multimedia links may be included as supplemental materials. Eligibility: Print media: circulation of 200,000 average daily circulation or more, according to the latest audited figures; TV & Radio: national networks in the U.S. and elsewhere and top 20 markets in the U.S. as determined by Nielsen; Online: Online news organizations with 50 or more employees. Small-market entities collaborating with large-market entities qualify as large-market. PDF or MP3 files, 20MB max, or links are accepted.
Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting, Small Market: An investigative report or series on a single environmental topic, published between March 1, 2014, and February 28, 2015. Related stories published on the same day count as one part. TV & Radio stories must not exceed 60 minutes; Print and Online series must not exceed five parts. Multimedia links may be included as supplemental materials. Eligibility: All outlets and publications falling outside the large-market definition. Small-market entities collaborating with large-market entities qualify as large-market. PDF or MP3 files, 20MB max, or links are accepted.
Outstanding Beat Reporting, Large Market: Up to five broadcast or published news reports on a broad range of environmental topics published between March 1, 2014, and February 28, 2015. Entry must be the work of an individual, either alone or with a small supporting team. Related stories published or aired on the same day count as one story. TV & Radio entries must have a combined total running time of no more than 60 minutes. Eligibility: Print media: circulation of 200,000 average daily circulation or more, according to the latest audited figures; TV & Radio: national networks in the U.S. and elsewhere and top 20 markets in the U.S. as determined by Nielsen; Online: Online news organizations with 50 or more employees. Small-market entities collaborating with large-market entities qualify as large-market. PDF or MP3 files, 20MB max, or links are accepted.
Outstanding Beat Reporting, Small Market: Up to five broadcast or published news reports and/or commentary on a broad range of environmental topics published between March 1, 2014, and February 28, 2015. Entry must be the work of an individual, either alone or with a small supporting team. Related stories published or aired on the same day count as one story. TV & Radio entries must have a combined total running time of no more than 60 minutes. Eligibility: All TV, Radio, Print and Online publications falling outside the large-market definition. Small-market entities collaborating with large-market entities qualify as large-market. PDF or MP3 files, 20MB max, or links, are accepted.
Rachel Carson Environment Book Award: A nonfiction book, published between January 1 and December 31, 2014, covering an environmental topic. Memoirs and picture books are not eligible.
Outstanding Feature Story: 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. Entries must be about environmental issues and published between March 1, 2014 and February 28, 2015. Multi-part stories, sidebars and other supplemental material are prohibited. Eligibility: All TV, Radio, Print and Online entities. PDF or MP3 files, 20MB max, or links are accepted.
Outstanding Photojournalism: Up to five photographs on one or more environmental topics, published between March 1, 2014 and February 28, 2015. Only photos published as photojournalism 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. Photos must be submitted as JPEG files, maximum 2MB.
10. MULTIPLE ENTRIES: 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 submitted 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.
11. ENTRY FEE: SEJ members in good standing, or teams that include at least one SEJ member, must pay SEJ a fee of $40 per entry to be eligible for judging in all categories. Non-members who do not wish to join must pay $100 per entry in all other categories. Non-members who wish to join SEJ for the first time and who qualify for membership may pay a special rate of $80 that covers one contest entry and the first year's membership in SEJ. Group entries pay the same fee as individuals. 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 team is an SEJ member. SEJ members must be on the reporting team to qualify the entry for the member rate.
12. COPIES OF ENTERED STORIES: Broadcast and online entries may be submitted via website links as long as the entry is viewable or audible, and is on a website maintained by the entrant or publisher of the entry. Television and radio links must yield good quality visual and audio replay. All broadcast entries must include a complete transcript. Print entries may be submitted via web links where the entry is viewable on a website maintained by the entrant or publisher of the entry, or by uploading 20MB-maximum PDF (low-resolution) or HTML files. Whether online or uploaded files, the entry must contain the same coverage as the original aired, published or posted entry, with all graphics, headlines and photos included (where applicable). Online entries may not include updates posted after the contest deadline of Feb. 28.
Print category stories may be submitted in one of six ways:
1) Internet web addresses 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;
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. Photocopy entries and PDF printouts must be accompanied by at least one actual tear sheet or clipping. An exception: news services may submit computer printouts without graphics and tear sheets or clippings.
Tear sheets are not accepted as entries.
SEJ requests entrants in print categories who mail hard copies to include, if possible, an electronic copy on CD for archiving. Supplementary material, including online components, may be included, except in the Outstanding Features category.
Television stories may be entered as links to websites where the videos can be viewed, or mailed on DVDs. It is the entrant's responsibility to make sure entered links are current and viable, and that DVDs are readable on both PC and Mac. Supplemental material, including online components, may be included except in the Outstanding Features category. A complete transcript is required.
Radio stories may be entered as links to websites where they can be listened to, uploaded as MP3 files, or shipped on CDs. It is the entrant's responsibility to ensure entered links are current and viable, and that audio CDs work on both PC and Mac. Supplemental material, including online components, may be included except in the Outstanding Features category. A complete transcript is required.
Online entries may be submitted in one of three ways:
1) web addresses that are current and publicly accessible and that do not include updates posted after the contest deadline of Feb. 28
2) CDs or DVDs showing exactly how the material appeared online
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: hard bound, paper bound or electronic. Computer printouts or proofing copies will not be accepted. For electronic publications, access instructions must be included and costs associated with access must be provided. Instructions are posted on the How to Enter page: http://www.sej.org/initiatives/awards/instructions 
Photo entries must be submitted as JPEG files, maximum 2MB. Only photos published as photojournalism, either as part of a story or alone, will be accepted.
13. DEADLINE: Entries must be submitted electronically no later than midnight, your local time, April 1, 2015, to qualify for judging in that year's contest. If you are submitting books or hard copies, the package must be postmarked by April 1, 2015.
14. COMPLETENESS OF 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 a completed and submitted electronic entry form including links or uploaded files of entry stories. If electronic links and uploads are not possible for the entrant, he or she may ship FOUR legible, viewable or audible copies of the entry stories according to the instructions in Rule #12 (above). Some entrants may also be asked to provide documentation demonstrating that they are eligible for the category they are entering.
15. INCOMPLETE OR NON-COMPLYING ENTRIES: The awards committee, the committee chair or co-chairs or the awards director may disqualify entries that are incomplete, illegible (such as exceptionally small type or poor photocopying), or otherwise do not comply with the contest rules. In cases where the awards director or awards committee determines that an entry is substantially but not fully complete, the awards director may contact entrants and give them extra time to provide any missing copies or other required information after the regular entry deadline. Entry fees will not be refunded to disqualified entrants.
16. DISCLOSURE: Any material corrections or retractions following the original distribution of the work, as well as any conflicts of interest or any appearance of a conflict of interest must be disclosed on the entry form. Failure to do so will result in the disqualification of the entry.
17. CATEGORY SWITCHES: The SEJ awards committee and/or awards director may switch entries between categories if the entry was deemed incorrectly classified.
18. APPOINTMENT OF 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 March 1, and preferably earlier, for the contest being judged April through July 1.
19. QUALIFICATIONS FOR 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, SEJ staff and awards personnel may not serve as judges. Judges serve as volunteers.
20. 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.
21. JUDGE RECUSALS: 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.
22. JUDGING PROCESS: Judging panels must meet in person or via electronic conferencing or email 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 not 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 the entered stories and the supplemental materials in judging an entry.
23. QUESTIONS FROM JUDGES: Judges will contact the awards director or 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.
24. NUMBER OF WINNERS: The judges may select up to three ranked place-winners and two honorable mentions in each category. Judges are free to select fewer or no place-winners or honorable mentions if they believe no entries are deserving of the honors. Ties are not allowed. No more than five entrants may be honored per category.
25. 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 director of awards or the awards committee. The awards committee 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, the SEJ staff or awards personnel select winners or honorable mentions.
26. 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 director. They may be published later in SEJournal and on SEJ's Internet newsgroups and web pages after the winners are publicly announced.
27. 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 director of the panel's decision and send the director the citations for the winning entries. All judges on each panel must independently communicate their agreement with the panel's decision. The awards director will then review all the place-winning entries and honorable mentions with the committee chairperson(s) to ensure that they comply with contest rules.
28. CONFIDENTIALITY: 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 director and/or committee, but only if the director or committee believes that information will help them make a determination on whether the judging process or a particular entry violates the contest rules. In that case, the awards director and/or committee will also keep that information strictly confidential.
29. DISCLOSURE OF WINNERS: Winners will be announced in July, or as soon as possible after judges have completed their deliberations. Awards will be presented at SEJ's annual conference.
30. DISPLAYING AND ARCHIVING WINNERS: 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.
31. RULES CHANGES: In close consultation with the awards director, 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 directors.
32. 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.