Official Rules of the 2020 Top of the Rockies Contest

Welcome to the 2020 Top of the Rockies contest!

Administered for more than a decade by SPJ Colorado Pro on behalf of SPJ chapters in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming.

For more information and questions: Contest Chair Deb Hurley Brobst (Note new e-mail address: deb.hurley.brobst@gmail.com) is available to answer contest-related questions.

Website: https://betternewspapercontest.com

Contest opens: Monday, Dec. 16, 2019

Contest closes: Deadline extended to 10 p.m. Mountain Time on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020

Note: Four videography categories have been added, effective Dec. 20, 2019. They are listed at the bottom of this document. Deadlines for ALL categories remain as originally set (see above). 

Awards will be announced: April 17 at the awards ceremony at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Place, Denver

Cost: $15 per entry

Note 1: You do not need to be an SPJ member to enter the contest.

Note 2: The SPJ Colorado Professional board of directors does not allow entries in which content was subsidized by private businesses with an interest in the covered topic.

Contest rules:
• Entries must have been published (print or online)/broadcast in the 2019 calendar year.
• Any story may be entered in one published or broadcast category (a news or specialized reporting category), plus one photography category, plus the multimedia category.
• Media outlets are limited to three entries per category.
• Entrants do not need to be SPJ members. If you are interested in SPJ membership, visit spjcolorado.com/about.
• Almost all categories are now open to broadcast, print and digital entries. You’ll be up against the best from all platforms in the region, not just your fellow print reporters or broadcast journalists.
Circulation and online-only organizations: Top of the Rockies is organized into four circulation classifications: less than 10,000, 10,001-30,000, 30,001-75,000 more than 75,000. Additionally, online-only organizations are placed in a print circulation division based on geographical location, scope of content and editorial influence. Any news organization wishing to compete in a circulation classification higher than theirs is allowed do so. However, organizations are not permitted to drop a classification.
On television and broadcast categories are broken into to classifications: large market stations, which are in Markets 1 to 50, and small market stations, which are in markets 50+. Large market stations will compete with the news organizations in the largest print circulation bracket. Small markets will compete with news organizations with the second-largest print circulation bracket with the option of moving up but not down.

How to enter:
There are two types of contestants in the website.
Which one are you: A media outlet or a freelancer?

If you are a media outlet:
1. Visit the betternewspapercontest.com website
2. Click on “Contestant Login”
3. Select 2020 Top of the Rockies under “Select a Contest”
4. Check to see if your media outlet is listed under “Select Media Organization.” If you DO NOT see it, contact Deb Hurley at deb.hurley.brobst@gmail.com.
5. If you see your media outlet, select it and type in your password. If you DO NOT know your password, contact Deb Hurley at deb.hurley.brobst@gmail.com.
6. Then simply place your entries. When your media outlet is done placing entries, pay your bill by clicking on Calculate Entry Fee in the top right-hand corner and follow the directions. You can print a receipt after you pay your fees.
7. If your media outlet’s website has a pay wall, please make sure your entries are available to the judges. Either make sure they are free content or submit a PDF instead. There is nothing that frustrates judges more than not having access to entries because they are blocked thanks to a paywall.

If you are a freelancer:
1. Visit the betternewspapercontest.com website
2. Click on “Open call login”
3. If you have entered before, put in your e-mail address and password. The contest coordinator DOES NOT have access to your password, so click “forgot password” and follow the directions if you need to reset your password.
4. If you are new to our contest, click on “create your Open Call account” and follow the directions.
5. E-mail Deb Hurley at deb.hurley.brobst@gmail.com if you have any questions.
6. Simply place your entries. When you are done placing entries, pay your bill by clicking on Calculate Entry Fee in the top right-hand corner and follow the directions.
7. If your media outlet’s website has a pay wall, please make sure your entries are available to the judges. Either make sure they are free content or submit a PDF instead. There is nothing that frustrates judges more than not having access to entries because they are blocked thanks to a paywall.

About the awards process
Winners attend the awards ceremony at their own or their company’s expense. All judges’ decisions are final in category placement, as well as entry evaluation. Entries will be judged on overall excellence, service to the community, and contributions to the public understanding of issues and events. Judging criteria may also include depth of research, quality of presentation and difficulty in obtaining information. Deadline pressure is a factor only in those categories identified as “deadline.”
If, in the opinion of the judges, none of the entries in a given category meets the standards of excellence, no award will be made in that category. Judges may reject entries that do not conform with contest rules.
About Top of the Rockies
Top of the Rockies is a regional, multi-platform contest for reporters and news organizations in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The contest grew from a Colorado-only contest on the heels of the closure of the Rocky Mountain News in 2009 to ensure a robust and competitive field. It is sponsored and managed by the Society of Professional Journalists – Colorado Professional chapter.

Eligibility
Entries must be submitted by an individual or a news organization in the SPJ Region 9 area – Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. National news organizations are eligible to enter as long as the journalist lives in the four-state region.

About the 2020 categories
The only change to categories is that News Feature has been changed to two categories:
Feature writing: long form (more than 1,500 words)
Feature writing: short form (less than 1,500 words)

2020 SPJ TOP OF THE ROCKIES CATEGORIES

GENERAL EXCELLENCE
These categories are judged individually.
• General Broadcast Excellence in Radio: A single broadcast
• General Broadcast Excellence for Television: A single broadcast, not to exceed 15 minutes.
• General Podcast Excellence: A single podcast episode.

WRITING CATEGORIES
In these categories, radio, television, online and print are judged together, per the instructions above. It you have questions, contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb.hurley.brobst@gmail.com.
• News Reporting, Single Story: Spot or Scheduled. Single news story (and related sidebars, if applicable). This includes all but sports, education, political, legal affairs and business reporting.
• Breaking News Story: A single story or package of a breaking news event occurring over a 24-hour period.
• General Reporting, Series or Package: A series of stories on one topic or a package of stories that runs simultaneously (submit all stories).
• Enterprise Reporting: An article or a package or series of stories on one topic that demonstrates exceptional enterprise or investigative effort.
• Feature Writing: long form: Includes profiles, analysis and other news stories written in a feature format that are more than 1,500 words.
• Feature Writing: short form: Includes profiles, analysis and other news stories written in a feature format that are less than 1,500 words.
• Public Service: An article or a package or series of stories on one topic that demonstrates exceptional coverage on a topic or issue that is important to the community.
• Best Solutions Journalism: Best story or series that includes in-depth reporting on a response/s to a problem.
• Special Section: A package of stories exploring one issue in depth.
• Personal/Humor Columns: Submit 3 columns per entry.
• News Columns: Submit 3 columns per entry.
• Editorials: Submit 3 editorials per entry.

• Sports General Reporting: Single story, package or series.
• Sports Columns: Submit 3 columns per entry.
• Sports Enterprise Reporting: An article, or a package or series of stories on one topic that demonstrates exceptional enterprise or investigative effort.

• Business General Reporting: Single story, package or series.
• Business Enterprise Reporting: An article, or a package or series of stories on one topic that demonstrates exceptional enterprise or investigative effort.

• A&E and Food Reporting News or Feature. A single story or a series on dining and nightlife, film, television, music (classical or popular), art, architecture, theater or dance.
• A&E and Food Criticism: Submit 3 columns or reviews.
• A&E and Food Enterprise Reporting: A single story, package or series of stories on one topic that demonstrates exceptional enterprise or investigative effort.

• Education General Reporting: A single story, package or series.
• Education Enterprise Reporting: An article, or a package or series of stories on one topic that demonstrates exceptional enterprise or investigative effort.

• Politics General Reporting: A single story, package or series.
• Politics Enterprise Reporting: An article or a package or series of stories on one topic that demonstrates exceptional enterprise or investigative effort.

• Legal General Reporting: A single story, package or series.
• Legal Enterprise Reporting: An article or a package or series of stories on one topic that demonstrates exceptional enterprise or investigative effort.

• Science and Technology General Reporting: A single story, package or series.
• Science and Technology Enterprise Reporting: An article, or a package or series of stories on one topic that demonstrates exceptional enterprise or investigative effort.

• Environment or Agriculture Reporting: A single story, package or series.
• Environment or Agriculture Enterprise Reporting: An article or a package or series of stories on one topic that demonstrates exceptional enterprise or investigative effort.

• Health General Reporting: A single story, package or series.
• Health Enterprise Reporting: An article or a package or series of stories on one topic that demonstrates exceptional enterprise or investigative effort.

• Marijuana General Reporting: An article or a package or series of stories.
• Marijuana Enterprise reporting: An article, or a package or series of stories on one topic that demonstrates exceptional enterprise or exceptional effort.

• Religion General Reporting: A single story, package or series.

• Blog: Honoring an important or insightful perspective unique to the Web. Three submissions per entry.
• General Website Excellence: Judged on the excellence of content, interactivity, design, navigation, multimedia and community tools.
• Multimedia Story: A cohesive Web package that can include words, photos, graphics, audio, video and/or graphics.

HEADLINES, DESIGN
These categories are for print publications only.
• Front page design: A front page or cover of your publication.
• Single page design: A single page or a section cover of your publication.
• Feature page design: A single page or feature cover of your publication.

HEADLINES, GRAPHICS
In these categories, radio, television, online and print are judged together, per the instructions above.
• Headline writing: Submit 3 headlines with the accompanying articles.
• Information graphic: Submit a graphic with the accompanying article.

PHOTOJOURNALISM
In these categories, radio, television, online and print are judged together, per the instructions above.
• Spot News Photography: One or more photos on a breaking news story.
• News Photography: One or more photos on a news story.
• Feature Photography: One or more photos where original subject matter is enhanced by the presentation or imagination of the photographer.
• Sports Photography: One or more photos on a sports subject.

[Note: The following four categories were added to the original list on Dec. 20, 2019. Deadlines for ALL categories remain the same, as outlined above.]

· Spot News Videography: A video on a breaking news story.
· News Videography: One or more videos on a news story.
· Feature Videography: One or more videos where original subject matter is enhanced by the presentation or imagination of the videographer.
· Sports Videography: A video on a sports subject.
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