2018 NAAJ Writing Contest

It’s NAAJ contest time again!
Contest period is calendar year 2017
 Stories must have been published January 1 to December 31, 2017.

The entry fee is $10 per entry for NAAJ members.

Nonmembers may enter the Special Projects category ONLY, and pay $75 per entry.

The deadline for all entries is Friday, Feb. 9, 2018


Winners will be announced as the category judges submit their results between mid-February and the March 13 judging deadline.

Awards will be presented at a dinner April 9, 2018 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., during NAAJ’s annual spring meeting April 8-10, 2018.

Meeting and membership information: Contact NAAJ executive secretary-treasurer Kathleen Phillips a 979-324-4302 or naajnews@yahoo.com)

Contest questions? Contact contest coordinator Kim de Bourbon at naaj@hagstromreport.com.


NEWS — Informs readers about a timely, important, interesting agricultural issue or event in an objective, thorough manner. | Limit of TWO entries per entrant

SPOT NEWS — Covers breaking news–news that is time-sensitive and written under tight deadline. Entries in this category would include (but not be limited to) stories written for wire services and the Internet. A statement of 100 words or less describing the conditions under which the story was written and/or the time significance of the story MUST accompany entries in the spot news category. | Limit of TWO entries per entrant

FEATURE — Takes a broader or more human look at an important or interesting agricultural issue, event or experience. It may be longer and more in-depth than a news story. This category includes human interest and technical articles. | Limit of TWO entries per entrant

SERIES — Contains multiple stories focused on an agricultural issue or event. The series objectively explores the subject in great depth from various points of view. | Limit of TWO entries per entrant

COLUMN — Allows the writer to express personal observations, humor or feelings on a topic. | Limit of ONE entry per entrant, consisting of three columns

EDITORIAL — Requires the writer to build arguments on fact and logic to address a certain issue. An editorial should state a position and convince the reader of the need for action. | Limit of ONE entry per entrant, consisting of three editorials

BEST BLOG — Can be on any agricultural topic posted by one writer and updated regularly. A blog can include various writing styles to share the writer’s insight and expertise, but should encourage audience reaction. Blogs must have appeared on a media website or standalone, and were first online rather than in a publication. Blogs generally have features such as reader feedback and links to other sites. | Limit of ONE entry per entrant, consisting of three blog posts, along with any reader comments.

SPECIAL PROJECTS — Takes reporting to a higher level. The overall entry shows careful planning and enterprise. The entry also shows that time, talent, and in some cases, monetary commitments were made to produce the project. May be a team effort. | Limit of TWO entries per entrant.

STUDENT CONTEST — Student entrants must be members of NAAJ by Feb. 9, 2018. Dues are $15/year. A brief letter or email of recommendation from a faculty member must accompany a new membership application.

There are no contest categories for students. Stories must have been published in 2017 in a student publication or a publication that would have employees eligible for NAAJ membership. | Limit of TWO entries per student


Entries are submitted online using the BetterBNC media contest platform. The entry process is unchanged from last year.

IMPORTANT: BetterBNC is optimized for the Google Chrome browser, or use Firefox for PC and older Apple computers. Please have a recent version downloaded and installed for the best contest experience.


 Go to www.betterbnc.com.

What type of entrant are you?

INDIVIDUAL ENTRANT — If you are an individual submitting  your work on your own, select “Open Call Login” in the top menu. You are an “Open Call Contestant.” Do NOT select “Contestant Login.”

Login with the email and password you used last year. A “Forgot Password” link is provided if you need it.

Or “Create your Open Call account” if this is your first time using BetterBNC. Fill out the form and submit, and the system will send you a validation email so you can login.

CONTESTANT MANAGER — If you are entering multiple writers on behalf of your organization, select “Contestant Login” and login as Contestant Manager.

Login with the password you used last year. A “Forgot Password” link is provided if you need it.

Note: If it is your first time logging in, use the temporary password: bnc (lowercase). The system will require you to update your password after you login.

  1. Select the contest you would like to enter:
    • 2018 NAAJ Writing Contest
    • 2018 NAAJ Audrey Mackiewicz Special Award
  1. Select your Media Organization
  2. Enter your password
  3. Click “Login”

If the designated Contestant Manager has left your organization, please contact the contest director to have the contact information for the new Contestant Manager updated.

AUTHORIZED ENTRANT — If you work for an organization that has a Contestant Manager, you may be authorized to submit your own entries this way. Your Contestant Manager will set up an account for you and send so you a link so you can log in. You would also select “Contestant Login” and then login as Authorized Entrant.

  1. Select the contest you would like to enter:
    • 2018 NAAJ Writing Contest
    • 2018 NAAJ Audrey Mackiewicz Special Award
  1. Select your Media Organization
  2. Enter your email address
  3. Enter your password
  4. Click “Login”


File formats: Your entries must be submitted in digital format, preferably as a PDF, Word document (doc or docx) or Text document (txt).

You may also submit image files — jpg, gif or png — but please avoid these, as they are not the best format for written entries.

OPEN CALL CONTESTANTS — Log in, then choose contest:

  • 2018 NAAJ Writing Contest
  • 2018 NAAJ Audrey Mackiewicz Special Award

Click on Submit Entry

Division — (Choose General, the only option)

Category — Choose from drop-down menu

Where Published or Performed —  Choose from drop-down menu. If your organization is not listed, choose Other and type the name in the box below.

Headline or Title of Entry — Type in the headline or identifying subject of your entry.

Date of Publication — Select month, day, year in drop down menus.

(If entry has content published on multiple dates, please enter dates in the Comments box below.)


To upload digital file attachments (other than audio/video) —Click “Browse,” navigate to the file on your computer, and then click “Open.” PDF or Word (doc/docx) or Text (txt) documents, please.

To upload additional attachments to a single entry, click the “Browse and Attach More Files” button.

BetterBNC will allow up to about a 20MB file — But try to keep  your files around 5MB in case the judges have a slow connection.

Post really large files online and provide the link — For files larger than 20MB, you can click the “RealView” icon on the Submit Entry page to create a free account, upload your files, and then copy and paste the URL into the URL field on the Submit Entry page. You may also use a similar third-party website that provides hosting services (scribd.com, issuu.com, etc.)

To enter website content, copy and paste the URL address into the provided Website URL field.

To enter audio or video content, it must be first posted online somewhere. Either upload it to a free streaming content website such as:

OR, talk to your IT person about uploading it to your publication’s website, where it will be accessible only to someone with the URL.

IMPORTANT: Make sure the content will be accessible online throughout the duration of the contest and awards process. 

Make sure your online entries are  NOT behind a paywall or in a password-protected area. If they are, you must provide a username/password info in the Comments section of your entry. Judges may disqualify your entry if work samples are inaccessible.

Add Comments or Additional Information. Anything else you think the judges need to know. If entry was published multiple dates, type publication dates here.

Enter “Credits” — Name or names of entrants in this category. (Enter up to 10 names — If more than 10, enter “Staff.”

Answer the reCAPTCHA query to verify you are not a robot.


You can come back and enter additional categories later — Entries do not have to be made all in one sitting.

But when all your entries are submitted, navigate to your Manage Entries page. (Under Open Call Contestant link at top.)

Click “Calculate Entry Fees”

The next page will show your entries, and tally the total due…

…. then click on the link to pay.

You will be taken to the NAAJ website, where you can pay by credit or debit card or PayPal account, via PayPal.



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