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All entries must be submitted by 11:59pm EST Friday, February 4, 2022.

In a time unlike any other, the News Leaders Association has geared its awards to reflect the extraordinary journalism produced in 2021, with categories that take into account the massive stories that unfolded across the past twelve months. We urge news organizations of all sizes to enter, and judges will take into consideration the special circumstances that many or most outlets, including smaller ones, had to face to produce excellent journalism.

All news websites, news services (including radio, TV stations and magazines) and newspapers in the United States are eligible to enter. Each nominating organization must create its own account to enter.

The categories for this year's awards are:

  • Dori J. Maynard Justice Award

  • Batten Medal

  • Deborah Howell Award for Writing Excellence

  • Frank A. Blethen Award for Local Accountability Reporting

  • Burl Osborne Editorial and Opinion Award

  • Punch Sulzberger Innovator of the Year Award

  • Mike Royko Award for Commentary and Column Writing

  • Breaking News Reporting Award

  • First Amendment Award

  • News Leader of the Year Award
    (Note: There is no entry fee for this category.)

  • Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity Leadership 
    (Note: There is no entry fee for this category.)

This year, there will not be separate award categories for small and large newsroom divisions.

Thanks to our generous sponsors, most of our awards will come with a cash prize. Please see the categories page for details.

We will be holding an awards ceremony in 2022 to honor the award winners of the 2022 NLA Award winners. Details of this event will be announced at a later date.

To begin an entry submission, please click here to register your organization's information. Please check to see if your organization has an account before registering, as each organization should only have one account for entering submissions. (Note: if you are an NLA member, this is not the same account you use to access the NLA membership portal.) If you participated in the 2019, 2020 or 2021 NLA Awards and are submitting on behalf of the same organization this year, then you can simply log in without creating a new account.

Note your email address (username) and password so that when you return, you can log in and complete the submission process.

Steps to Follow:

Step 1: Make sure to review the categories and rules by clicking on their tabs in the menu bar.
Step 2: Start entering by clicking here to create one account for your organization. If you already have an account, then you can log in and complete your submission.
Step 3: On the submit page, you will be asked to complete three forms per entry. You need to complete all three forms per entry in order to complete your submission.
Step 4: When you finish uploading your entry, click "Add to Cart," and you'll be directed to the "Review and Checkout" page. Review your entry and make changes if necessary. Click "Checkout" to pay and complete your submission. If you have more entries to submit, then click "Make Another Entry," and repeat the process. If you need to submit the same entry to a different category, then you'll have an option to copy the entry at the end of each "Entry submission" form. Once you complete adding all of your entries, you can then pay for everything at once. 
Step 5: Once you pay for your entry, you can review in the read-only mode by clicking "My Entries" under the "My Account" tab, but you won't have access to make changes.

Awards Rules:

Please follow the rules below to ensure that your entry is accepted. Entries that do not conform to these rules may be disqualified. In addition, be sure to follow the specific requirements for each category found in the category descriptions.

Eligibility: All entries must have been published originally, whether in print or online, in 2021 (unless otherwise specified). All entries must be submitted in English. The work of a journalist or team can be entered in more than one category but will be selected as a winner in no more than one. The work of both employees and freelance contributors is eligible.

Deadline: All entries must be submitted by 11:59pm EST Friday, February 4, 2022.

Team Entries: All awards categories accept team entries except the Mike Royko Award for Commentary and Column Writing. 

Multiple Entries: A news organization can submit up to three entries in each category. Individual journalists may self-enter in the same category however, even if their organization submits three entries to that category.

Reprint Rights: Reprint rights are granted to NLA by virtue of entry in this contest.

Entry Format: If your entry is available online, please submit your piece via the URL(s). If there are multiple components to your story, you may submit an accompanying PDF that details the instructions for how those URLs should be viewed/accessed (order, "only count this part of the column," etc.). If you would prefer to submit your entry via PDF, we ask that you do so in a clear, easily legible format, with all components clearly labeled. Your nominating letter (optional) should be uploaded as a PDF.

If uploading via PDF, you should submit one PDF file that contains the entire entry and then another PDF file that contains the optional nominating letter. You may submit multiple PDFs if the entry is large. Each article must include its published date and be formatted for easy readability. A sidebar can be submitted as a separate article to be counted toward the maximum articles allowed per category. If the articles are part of a series, then only submit the articles that will be judged up to the maximum allowed per category. The articles can be prefaced with the original play of the articles.

If you are entering via URL and there is a paywall, then use the "paywall instructions" box in the entry submission form to upload instructions for access. The URL needs to be available as a link on the NLA website if it is a winning entry.

Any entry including images should have a JPEG file type and should have a caption. To establish context, PDFs and/or links to relevant web pages must be included in the entry. It's understood that this supporting material might include photographs that are not part of the entry. You may also enter a URL instead of uploading images. All video entries should be entered via URL. Please refer to the categories page for more specific rules.

For Innovator of the Year entries: Multimedia packages containing elements, such as text, video and graphics, should be entered via their URLs. No PDF formatting is required.

No minimum number of articles/digital components is required in each category, but there is a maximum number allowed that is dependent on the category. Please see the specific rules under each category for further instructions.

Enter online: Nomination letters (optional) and submission of entries must be completed online. Click here to setup an account for your organization and start entering. Please check to see if your organization has an account before registering, as each organization should only have one account for entering submissions. (Note: if you are an NLA member, this is not the same account you use to access the NLA membership portal.) All entries must be submitted by 11:59pm EST Friday, February 4, 2022. No late entries will be accepted.

Entrant Type/Fees: There is a nonrefundable handling fee of $75 per entry, except for the News Leader of the Year category

Support: All questions should be emailed to contact@newsleaders.org.