Spj Scholarship Essay Contest

Attention college journalists: The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists (MNSPJ) is now accepting applications for its 2018 student scholarship. This year, MNSPJ will award one $2,500 scholarship to a student pursuing a career in broadcast, print, online or visual journalism. A second winner will receive a $700 stipend to attend SPJ’s Excellence in Journalism, an annual national conference for professional and college journalists that will be held Sept. 27-29 in Baltimore.

Applicants must either be enrolled in a post-secondary institution in Minnesota or have graduated from a high school in Minnesota and be enrolled in college elsewhere. Preference will be given to Society of Professional Journalists members.

Click here to submit an application form –- the first step. Email the additional application materials to minnesota.spj@gmail.com. Here’s what’s required:

Application form, which can be found here
College transcript
Letter of recommendation
Essay (limited to 500 words): Why have you chosen journalism as a career?
Up to six samples of work via a link to your portfolio, a PDF of clips or story URLs

Applications must be received by March 31, 2018. No late submissions will be accepted. The scholarship winners will be announced prior to MNSPJ’s annual Page One Awards banquet, where recipients will receive their awards.

Questions? Email minnesota.spj@gmail.com.

Entry Deadline:
January 11, 2018

Entries accepted beginning November 6, 2017

Annually, the Society of Professional Journalists presents the Mark of Excellence Awards, honoring the best in student journalism. The awards offer categories for print, radio, television and online collegiate journalism.

Entries are first judged on the regional level. First-place regional winners advance to the national competition, and most are recognized at their respective regional SPJ conference in the spring of 2018. National winners will be showcased on spj.org.

A best in show (MOEy) award will be given for the overall best entry among all national winners. Winners in the following categories are eligible for a MOEy only if they cover a single topic:

  • Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper
  • Best All-Around Non-Daily Student Newspaper
  • Best Student Magazine
  • Best All-Around Radio Newscast
  • Best All-Around Television Newscast
  • Best Affiliated Website
  • Best Independent Online Student Publication
  • Best Independent Digital-Only Student Publication

– Eligibility
– General Rules
– Category-specific Rules

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– The contest is open to anyone who is enrolled in a U.S. or international college or university in 2017, while studying for an academic degree. International SPJ student members may also enter. Students who have had full-time professional journalism experience, outside of internships, are ineligible. A group entry that includes any work by someone with full-time professional experience will be disqualified.
– The entrant must have been enrolled as a student at the time of publication or broadcast.
– Work published or broadcast while working as a student intern is acceptable.
– Unpublished manuscripts, classroom exercises and unaired news broadcasts do not qualify. Any work found to be unpublished, unaired or a classroom exercise will be disqualified.
– A classroom exercise is defined as work assigned for a grade or fulfillment of a course requirement and is not eligible for an MOE Award unless it was also published outside of class in the campus/local newspaper, campus/ local broadcast stations or website.
– Each entry may be submitted in only one category. However, photos, graphics and video entered as part of a writing award also may be submitted in a visual category.
– Advisers may enter for their students.
– All entries must have been published or broadcast in 2017.
– Entries may not include the work of students from more than one school.

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General Rules

– Entries not originally published or broadcast in English should include English subtitles or an English translation.
Entries that are incomplete or entered in the wrong division or category will be disqualified as soon as the error is discovered. Entrants will not be notified of such disqualification and their entry fees will not be refunded.
– Material submitted for the contest will not be returned. Winning entries may be reproduced or posted on the SPJ website for educational or other purposes.
– A cover letter explaining your entry is optional. Limit to 100 words.
– Mark the date of publication or broadcast on all items submitted.
– Each contestant may enter as many categories as desired, but may submit no more than two entries per category. There is no limit on the number of entries a school or news outlet may enter.
– Each entry must be accompanied by the correct entry fee.
– Be sure the name of each student who worked on the entry is listed on the entry form and spelled correctly.
– A maximum of four people can be named on a team entry. Otherwise, the entry must be submitted in the name of the newspaper, magazine, station or online news site.
– Work should be submitted in the region where the entrant is enrolled in school. See the SPJ website or entry form for regional boundaries. International SPJ student members should select the “international” option in the regional drop down box.
– Large and small divisions within a category might be combined, depending on the number of entries.
– Scripts for broadcast entries are optional, but recommended.

Submitting Your MOE Award Entry

All entries in every category must be uploaded to the online awards site.If an entry is mailed to SPJ Headquarters, it will be disqualified.

Accuracy Requirement

Any corrections, clarifications or retractions made after initial publishing or broadcast must be submitted as part of the entry. Also, copies of any written challenges to the report’s accuracy sent to the entrant or the news organization by or on behalf of those mentioned — including but not limited to letters, emails or legal papers — must be included with the entry. Responses by the news organization also should be included.


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– SPJ members (by deadline): $10 per entry
– SPJ members (after deadline): $15 per entry
– Non-members (by deadline): $20 per entry
– Non-members (after deadline): $30 per entry

Each submission by an SPJ member must be accompanied by a $10 entry fee and the entrant’s membership number. You may not use another student’s membership number to obtain the $10 member entry fee. Each submission by a non-member must be accompanied by an $20 entry fee.

– When an entry by more than one person is submitted, a $10 fee will be acceptable if at least one person on the team is a member of SPJ. The member must be identified and supply his or her membership number. Your adviser’s membership number may not be used for any entry.
– A fee must accompany entries in the Best All-Around categories. The fee is $10 if an editor is an SPJ member, $20 if an editor is not a member. To claim the $10 rate, you must supply the editor’s name and membership number.
– SPJ accepts credit card payments from Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
Make checks and money orders payable to: Society of Professional Journalists. Entrants paying by check must include the award confirmation number in the memo line. Multiple confirmation numbers should be listed on a note accompanying the check.
– No refunds will be issued.


Judging will be based on overall excellence. Criteria include:

– Accuracy and completeness
– Enterprise and ingenuity
– Adherence to high journalistic standards
– Significance and effectiveness
– Extenuating circumstances
– Clarity, insight and respect for the audience
– Creative use of the medium’s unique capabilities
– Adherence to the SPJ Code of Ethics
– Available resources

One winner and up to two finalists will be chosen in each category unless the judges find that the entries do not meet the overall standard of excellence required. No ties or honorable mentions will be awarded. A category may have up to two finalists and no winner if entries do not meet the requirements.

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Category-specific Rules

See a list of categories (opens in new window).

Print (Newspaper and Magazine Categories)

– Entrants must submit a link to the online article or a PDF of the news/magazine page on which the story appeared. The date of publication must be visible.
– PDFs must have the same name as the title of the story.
– PDFs should be combined into one file, when possible.
– Word documents containing the work will not be accepted.
– Limit a series to no more than five stories.


– For photographs published in a newspaper or magazine or on an online news site.
– Entrant should submit a PDF of the news/magazine page on which the art appeared, or a link to the art published on an online news site. The date of publication should be visible.
– Submitting a separate digital photo is optional.


– Entries may be edited for length.
– Work must have been aired by a campus, public or commercial radio station.
– Work aired on an online radio station or by podcast is also eligible.
– Entrant should submit a link to the work online or upload an audio file to the awards site. [50 MB file limit]
– All audio files must be .mp3 (preferred), .wav or .aiff format. Audio in other formats will not be accepted.
– All entries must have a transcript included with the entry.


– Work must have been broadcast by a campus, public or commercial television station or franchised cable television system.
– Entries may be edited for length.
– Work aired on an internet TV station or by podcast is also eligible.
– Entrant should upload the work to an online video site and submit the URL (preferred), or upload a video file to the awards site. [50 MB file limit]
– All video files must be one of the following formats: .wmv, .mov, .mpeg or .mp4.
– Do not upload video to Mediafire. Content uploaded to this site is only available for a limited time.
– All entries must have a transcript included with the entry, with the exclusion of entries in the Best All-Around Newscast category.


– Entries that do not provide complete and accurate URLs will be disqualified.
– Entries in online categories will be judged on interactivity and use of multimedia tools.
– Entrants must keep their entries intact and accessible until September 30, 2018.
– Judging will take place February-April 2018. Best Affiliated Website and Best Independent Online Student Publication categories will be judged on content as presented during this time span.


– Broadcast entries must have been broadcast by a campus, public or commercial television station or franchised cable television system.
– Online/digital entries shall come from websites, areas of websites and all digital platforms operated by a campus affiliated organization or program.
– Entries may be edited for length.
– Entrant should upload the work to an online video site and submit the URL (preferred), or upload a video file to the awards site. [50 MB file limit]
– All video files must be one of the following formats: .wmv, .mov, .mpeg or .mp4.
– A script or transcript may be included with each entry, but it is not required.

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Email awards@spj.org.

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