NSPA Contests & Critiques
Newspaper Pacemakers | Online Pacemakers |
You'll always find the latest information and forms for NSPA's contests by visiting this page. Downloadable PDF forms will be available from this page as soon as the forms are created and printed. If you have difficulty downloading the PDF files, please email us to request a copy by mail or fax.
The following contests are free of charge, but open only to NSPA member publications. To find out if your publication is a current member, check our database. Non-members who enter will be billed for membership.
Judges select Pacemakers based on the following: coverage and content, quality of writing and reporting, leadership on the opinion page, evidence of in-depth reporting, design, photography, art and graphics.
Pacemakers are selected by the staff of a NAA-member newspaper or by journalism professionals. Finalists will be notified about one month before the fall convention.
Past Winners: 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995 | 1994 | 1993
Online Pacemaker entries are judged during the months of February and March, based upon the following criteria: design, navigation, writing/editing, graphics and interactivity.
Past Winners: 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001
Yearbook/Magazine Pacemakers are judged based upon the following criteria: writing/editing, design, content, concept, photography, art and graphics.
Yearbook Pacemaker: 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995 | 1994 | 1993
Digital YB Pacemaker: 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 1998-2002
Magazine Pacemaker: 2012 | 2011 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 |1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995 | 1994 | 1993
The Story of the Year competition, co-sponsored by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, recognizes initiative and original reporting of a situation, problem or issue affecting students. Judges look for entries which show leadership, quality writing, sensitivity and fairness. Categories include News Story, Feature Story, Editorial/Commentary, Sports Story, Diversity Story and Multimedia Package. The first place winners from each category, with the exception of Multimedia Package, will compete for the $1,000 Brasler Prize.
NSPA's Picture of the Year competition honors student photographers in six categories, including News, Feature, Sports Action, Sports Reaction, Environmental Portrait and Jr. High/Middle School. The competition is co-sponsored by the National Press Photographers Association.
Adobe Systems and NSPA sponsor a Design of the Year competition. First-place winners in each category receive an Adobe software package of their choice. Categories include Newspaper Page One, Newspaper Page/Spread, Yearbook Page/Spread, Magazine Page/Spread, Infographic and Illustration.
The NSPA Cartooning Awards, co-sponsored by Universal Uclick, are open
to students at NSPA member newspapers in two categories: Editorial
Cartoon and Comic Strip/Panel.
Story of the Year: 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996
Brasler Prize: 1996-2012
Multimedia Story of the Year: 2012
Picture of the Year: 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996
Design of the Year: 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000
Cartooning Awards: 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003
Broadcast Pacemaker: 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996
Broadcast Story of the Year: 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000
The Best of Show competition is held at all national and state conventions sponsored by the National Scholastic Press Association. The number of entries and places awarded may change from year to year, usually corresponding with overall attendance. Only publications and broadcast teams with students in attendance at the convention are eligible to enter the contest. Competitiveness varies depending on time of year and the convention location. The competing pool is typically much smaller and distinct from our national contests, such as the Pacemaker. The Best of Show award does not signify a ranking of national excellence, but rather overall excellence among the attendees and entries.
Because it is an onsite contest, the judging process is accelerated. NSPA makes every effort to obtain judges of the highest caliber. Customarily, one judge makes the selections for each category. There is no panel and no discussion is allowed. This also makes the judging process for Best of Show very different from our national contests, where a panel may have time for deliberation and debate. Best of Show judges do not provide NSPA with comments on winners or other entries. NSPA retains the winning entries for future use.
Contest forms are sent with convention registration confirmations or are available at the convention registration desk. Best of Show entries for print publications consist of one issue of a newspaper or a single broadcast program from the current school year or one copy of a magazine or yearbook from the previous school year.
Spring Convention Best of Show:
2014 San Diego | 2013 San Francisco | 2012 Seattle | 2011 Anaheim | 2010 Portland | 2009 Phoenix | 2008 Anaheim | 2007 Denver | 2006 San Francisco | 2005 Seattle | 2004 San Diego | 2003 Portland | 2002 Phoenix | 2001 San Francisco | 2000 Anaheim | 1999 Albuquerque | 1998 Seattle | 1997 Phoenix | 1996 San Francisco
Fall Convention Best of Show:
2013 Boston | 2012 San Antonio | 2011 Minneapolis | 2010 Kansas City | 2009 Washington D.C. | 2008 St. Louis | 2007 Philadelphia | 2006 Nashville | 2005 Chicago | 2004 Atlanta | 2003 Washington D.C. | 2002 Dallas | 2001 Boston | 2000 Kansas City | 1999 Atlanta | 1998 Washington D.C. | 1997 St. Louis | 1996 Chicago | 1995 Kansas City
All Honor Roll inductees will receive a certificate of recognition, and a listing of all inductees into the Honor Roll will be published in NSPA's Best of the High School Press.
Past Winners: 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997
The $1,000 award will be given to a high school senior on the staff of an NSPA member newspaper with a minimum 3.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale or equivalent. In addition to the entry form, applicants must submit three published editorials and a brief recommendation from the paper's adviser.
Past Winners: 1998-2013
The Student Press Law Center and the National Scholastic Press Association co-sponsor the Courage in Student Journalism Award.
Two awards will be presented. The first award is presented to a deserving middle- or high school journalist who has shown determination, despite difficulty and resistance, in lawfully exercising his or her First Amendment press rights. A second award is presented to a school administrator who has demonstrated support, under difficult circumstances, for the First Amendment press rights of his or her school's student media. (The student journalist and administrator need not be from the same school.)
Additional information (including a list of past winners of this award) is available at this SPLC web page.
Past Winners: SPLC Award Winners
The Pioneer Award is the highest award NSPA offers to journalism educators. Pioneers are individuals who make substantial contributions to high school publications and journalism programs outside of their primary employment.
NSPA maintains a composite plaque of Pioneers and displays it at all JEA/NSPA fall national conventions. Candidates are nominated by previous Pioneer winners and NSPA board members.
Those who are to be inducted will be notified in September and invited to be recognized and receive a plaque during an adviser luncheon at the JEA-NSPA National Fall High School Journalism Convention.
We want to remain in touch with past Pioneer Award recipients. If you've not heard from us lately, please send your current mailing address, email and phone number to Diana Mitsu Klos at email@example.com.
View the list of Pioneer Award winners
These awards have either been discontinued or have been replaced by another award.
Previous winners of these awards are linked below.
Best of the Net (replaced by Online Pacemaker):
1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996
Multicultural Award (now part of Story of the Year): 1997 | 1996
H.L. Hall/Melinda Foys Adviser Fellowships: 2000-2006
RFK Memorial Journalism Awards (co-sponsored by NSPA 2002-2009)
The critique is a written evaluation of work submitted by a publication. Professional journalists, experienced media advisers and other media professionals serve on the NSPA board of judges.
The judge writes comments and scores your publication in several different categories such as coverage, writing and design. The composite score from all sections gives the publication an honor rating ranging from Third Class to All American. The All American rating is the highest rating given to any publication in the critique service.
Media that have achieved 10 All American honor ratings in an 11-year span are inducted into the All American Hall of Fame. (See below for more information about this prestigious achievement.)
The critique service usually takes 10 to 14 weeks. NSPA makes every effort to return the completed critique as soon as possible.
NSPA membership with critique (junior high and middle school publications): $99
Become an NSPA Critique Judge
NSPA is always looking for journalism educators or professionals with the qualifications to judge publications submitted for critique. Prospective judges should possess five years experience advising student publications (preferably award-winning ones) and/or professional experience in writing, editing, design, graphics and photography. Judges are paid an honorarium per publication, with an option to donate your honorarium fees to the NSPA Summer Workshops scholarship fund.
The latest forms and brochures in PDF format:
Best of the High School Press - August 1, 2014
NSPA Summer Journalism Workshops, Minneapolis - July 18-20, 2014
JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention, Denver - April 16–20, 2015