Who is eligible to enter?
- You don't have to be an SEJ member or on an environment beat to enter.
- Reporters who cover health, politics, science, energy, local government or any other beat are encouraged to enter their work on environmental subjects.
- Students enrolled in a university, college or high school — and graduates submitting work they did while enrolled as students — are eligible for the student category. Mid-career journalists who return to school, post-graduate students and students sharing a byline with non-students are not eligible to enter the student category.
- 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 they are judging.
- 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 times as you want, with one important exception: Rules prohibit any story from being entered more than once. For example, entering a single story in one category, and including that story in a group of stories for the same or 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 entry form for each category. Payment must be made first. Payment forms are located at the bottom of the How to Enter page — click on the category title of your choice to enter the payment form. After you've finished the payment process, you'll be forwarded to the categories page where you can access the entry forms. Record your invoice number — you need it to complete the entry 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 There will be no refunds for entries that are ineligible or for entries that are withdrawn by the entrant. Check the rules for eligibility.
What is the deadline to enter?
Due to the COVID-19 virus, SEJ is extending the Awards deadline to April 24, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. ET. This is the final extension. Please remember that many are working from home and bandwidths everywhere are challenged, so don't wait until the last minute to submit.
April 1, 2020 extended to April 24, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (formerly your local time)
Mailed entries: Postmark on or before April 24, 2020
Late electronic entries (additional fees apply): April 7, 2020, 11:59 p.m. EST
Late mailed entries (additional fees apply): Postmark between April 2 and 7, 2020
►These are firm deadlines: If you submit after the deadline (electronically or by mail), the form will still operate, but your entry won't be sent to judges and your entry fee won't be reimbursed. Be sure to leave yourself enough time! (If your entry is submitted late because of an SEJ website malfunction, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (502) 641-1844.) (Please don't call at midnight.) :)
What prizes are offered?
SEJ Awards for Carmody Investigative, Beat, Explanatory, Feature Story and Carson Book:
- First Place: $500, trophy, certificate and discount to attend the annual conference
- Second Place: $250, certificate and discount to attend the annual conference
- Third Place and Honorable Mentions: Certificate and discount to attend the annual conference
SEJ Student Awards:
- First Place: $500, trophy, certificate and trip to attend the annual conference
- Second Place: $250, certificate and trip to attend the annual conference
- Third Place: Certificate and trip to attend the annual conference
- Honorable Mentions: Certificate and discount to attend the annual conference
The Nina Mason Pulliam Award for the "best of the best" environmental journalism:
- $10,000 to one entry selected from the first-place winners of SEJ's Awards
- Travel, registration and hotel expenses (up to $2,500) for the winner, or representatives of the winning team, to attend SEJ's annual conference
All SEJ Awards first-place winners will be automatically entered into the Nina Mason Pulliam Award.
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.
How much does it cost?
$45 US Funds for each entry for:
- SEJ members in good standing (current with dues and eligibility)
- Teams that include at least one SEJ member in good standing on the team as a reporter with a byline, photographer, graphic artist or reporter without a byline who was given credit for reporting on the entered stories, and whose name would be included on the trophy if the entry wins first place
$15 US Funds for each entry for:
- SEJ member students enrolled in a college, university or high school (excluding mid-career journalists who return to school, post-graduate students and students sharing a byline with non-students)
$25 US Funds for each entry for:
- Students enrolled in a college, university or high school (excluding mid-career journalists who return to school, post-graduate students and students sharing a byline with non-students) who are not members of SEJ
$110 US Funds for each entry for:
- Individuals who are not members of SEJ
- Teams that do not include an SEJ member in good standing on the team as a reporter with a byline, photographer, graphic artist or reporter without a byline who was given credit for reporting on the entered stories, and whose name would be included on the trophy if the entry wins first place
$10 US Funds for each entry for:
- Journalists residing in low-to-middle-income-economy countries as designated by World Bank rankings.
Additional $100 US Funds for each entry for:
Late entries submitted after April 1, 2020, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (formerly your local time). Late deadline is April 7, 11:59 p.m. EST. Late entries that are mailed must be postmarked no later than April 7, 2020, and an online entry form must be completed by April 7, 2020, 11:59 p.m. EST.
Not a member? Apply for membership in SEJ to qualify for the member rate. Please read the following instructions:
- Complete a membership application.
- Eligibility criteria apply! Read the membership application thoughtfully and don't apply if you don't qualify. Note that individuals engaged in any kind of paid public relations or lobbying work concerning environmental issues are not eligible for membership.
- You can enter the contest at the member rate after your membership application and dues payment are submitted. However, if you're found to be ineligible for membership, SEJ will bill you for the additional $65 for the non-member contest fee and refund your member dues. Entries will not be processed until the correct payment is received.
What are the eligible air/publication dates?
- Books: January 1 — December 31, 2020
- All other entries: Published or aired between March 1, 2019, and February 29, 2020. Check your category for the number of stories allowed.
What types of stories and which category should I enter?
- 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 include 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. 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 Environment Book category: Entries must be nonfiction books about environmental topics. Coffee-table books and memoirs are not eligible. One book per entry plus supplemental materials.
- Ray Reece "Excellence in Environmental Journalism" Student Award category: A story or series on an environmental topic. All radio, TV, print and online publications published or aired by the original media outlet are eligible, including campus media, journalism produced during internships and part-time jobs.
Check SEJ Awards 2020 Rules for complete category descriptions.
If you are not sure which category you should enter, email 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 won’t be returned for entries deemed ineligible.
What about a cover letter?
Cover letters are not mandatory but can serve to explain aspects of your entry to the judges. Use cover letters to show difficulties in reporting, to include links to comments or results of your story, follow-up reporting, etc.
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. If you don’t see your document on the form after uploading, your document also won’t be seen by judges. Try updating your browser or using a different browser. If all else fails, email email@example.com or call (502) 641-1844.
Who will select the winners?
Independent panels of journalists, journalism educators and other qualified individuals appointed by the Awards Committee will judge qualified entries and pick place-winners and honorable mentions. Judges may select no winners or fewer place winners in a category if they decide fewer prizes are warranted. SEJ board, staff, awards committee members and awards personnel do not act as judges.
When will the winners be announced?
Winners will be announced in August. Awards will be presented during SEJ's 30th Annual Conference in Boise, Idaho, to be held September 23-27, 2020.
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 (EST).