SEJ Awards Screeners Job Description

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QUALIFICATIONS FOR SCREENING: All screeners must be either current or retired news professionals or journalism educators, or have similar qualifications the Awards Committee considers appropriate. 

Screeners must be able to access online entries using Submittable, a contest cloud service which requires the latest update of the CHROME browser. 

Screener characteristics needed: 

  • A profound understanding of journalism
  • An absence of bias with respect to environmental issues (e.g., "pet" issues or issues that don't "resonate"), media types, media groups, individual reporters, etc.
  • An ability to commit to a late April - May 1 schedule
  • Some knowledge of and familiarity with environmental issues
  • A good grasp of SEJ Awards RULES and FAQs


  • The SEJ Awards program is a journalism contest, not a contest about environmental issues. You're looking for the best examples of journalism. Solid in-depth investigative reporting, clear explanatory writing, solid beat reporting, great storytelling, fact-finding that uncovers new information — these are the focus of SEJ's contest.
  • SEJ's vision includes diversity in all respects and through all programs and governance. Within the awards program, screeners need be mindful in recognizing underreported stories, underrepresented voices, topics and geographies along with established journalists and media outlets.
  • If you see entries that belong in a different category, email with the category entered, the entry number and that a switch should be made. If you have an idea which category the entry belongs in, please include that. 

Rules you need to know:

  • Screeners may enter SEJ's contest in any category they are not judging. No travel is required for screening. Screeners work in pairs.
  • SAME DAY LINKS COUNT TOWARD THE ENTRY. Same-day stories are related stories published or aired the same day and count as one story. This means you'll sometimes see more than five stories in categories allowing up to five, or more than one for the Feature Story category. Email if you aren't sure whether the entry has followed the rules. Staff checks to see that same-day stories qualify and that number of stories is correct. 
  • SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS DO NOT COUNT TOWARD THE ENTRY. They are there simply to shed light on the entered stories, and not to be considered in any way as part of the entry, i.e., they are not being judged or awarded. 
  • Screeners must recuse themselves if faced with a conflict of interest.
  • Series that begin or end outside the contest window of Feb. 1, 2021 - Jan. 31, 2022 are allowed, as long as some part of the series falls within the contest window. 
  • INITIAL OUTLET: This refers to the first media outlet to publish or air the entry. It's the only one that counts with respect to the award, and is the basis for whether the entry is in a large or small category. (Small outlets partnering with a large outlet count as "Large.")
  • SECONDARY OUTLETS: We collect this information to help us see the reach of the story or stories. These don't count in determining Large or Small category. 


  • Log into and if your entry list doesn't automatically pop up, mouse over your profile icon at the top right and click the drop-down arrow to the right of that icon. Select Society of Environmental Journalists. Your list will then load. If you don't yet have an account on Submittable, you'll be invited to create an account. Once you've accepted the invitation and created your account, we'll add you to the SEJ Awards category you'll be screening and give you access to entries. 
  • Screeners access entries by clicking on the Submission Name (2nd item in the menu immediately above the list of entries). When the entry opens, Entry info is on the left side of the page; Review selections are on the right. Click My Review to begin. After saving as Draft, you can edit selections. Click [YOUR NAME] under the review section. If you don't see the review section, click the REVIEW tab at the top of that area, under the black menu bar. 
  • Save your selections as DRAFT. You can edit anytime — but you can't save as Finalized because there are mandatory fields for judges. 

Screeners can use their own means of going through entries, but we've found a simple Yes/No/Maybe works well. SEJ uses Submittable for reviews. Each entry form has two Screeners fields: the Yes/No/Maybe options and a Notes field. You can change your review at any time. Screeners use only the screener fields at the top. 

We suggest screeners go through the entire list of entries and record your responses as you go. After both screeners are finished, entries where you agree on No will be removed. If the list is still more than 40 entries, screeners will have to discuss which of the Maybes should be removed.

Timing and deadlines:

Screening begins on or soon after April 5 or as soon as SEJ staff has entries ready. Two screeners are needed for each category having more than 40 entries. The target is to whittle the list down to 35-40 entries.
Deadlines for screeners vary because they begin at different times. Screeners are given three weeks from the day they have access to the entries. Some wiggle room might be possible if absolutely needed. 

Please contact Chris Bruggers if you have ANY questions. I'm in the Eastern time zone and check email in the evenings and weekends while judges and screeners are working. 

If you haven't been selected as a judge or screener...

...and you're interested in volunteering,  please respond to a few questions to help us with selection and placement.