Better way to enter newspaper contest

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Less tape on tear-sheet backs. A fraction of the time spent stuffing stories into envelopes. Lower last-minute shipping fees paid.

What’s not to like?

More than a decade after the photo categories in the HSPA Foundation’s Better Newspaper Contest went digital, the written word finally follows suit.

Click here to get all your contest details.

While HSPA led the nation among press associations switching from tear sheets to an electronic format for photo entries, this year’s change merely puts the state in the middle of the pack of associations going digital for written categories. 

“In 2000 our photographers almost begged us to change our contest rules,” said Karen T. Braeckel, director of the HSPA Foundation. “Press photographers’ associations began developing digital contests a little earlier, but no state press association dared to depart from the traditional tear-sheet format for a while. Many editors believed that was the only way to see how a photo appeared on the page.

“Photographers saw themselves as victims of production. Some great work turned muddy when the press ran slightly out of register.”

The HSPA Foundation Bet­ter Newspaper Contest rules committee sees the upgrade to a digital entry method as a convenience to HSPA members.

To enter individual stories, editors merely need to upload the electronic tear sheet to the contest website, www.betternewspapercontest.com.

Most categories for sections and design, the Blue Ribbon and three special awards and one photo category still require mailing or delivering entries to the HSPA Foundation office.

A mailbox icon marks these categories in the rules brochure.

“The new contest software really doesn’t work well for sections or full-paper categories,” Braeckel said.

Other changes include:

  • Revising the fee structure so all divisions may submit three entries in each category unless otherwise noted in the rules.
  • Increasing the cost of additional entries above the flat-fee allowance to $10 each for all divisions.
  • Limiting to four the number of categories eligible for Story of the Year.
  • Combining soundslides and video categories into one.

One thing remains constant: To avoid disqualification, HSPA must receive all entries – both mail-in and uploaded – by 5 p.m. Friday, July 29.

Braeckel encouraged papers to begin uploading before the last week of the contest.

“As usual with a major change, contestants will experience a learning curve,” she said. “We want everyone to be able to compete and don’t want disqualifications due to last-minute technical glitches. We stick to the deadline. The rules committee doesn’t believe it’s equitable to allow one member additional time when others scramble to make it as well.”

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