Start compiling your best work from this year in a folder on your computer desktop. It’s NAAJ contest time again!
Contest entries must be published during calendar year 2016 (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31). The deadline for all entries is Friday, Feb. 10, 2017.
Contest categories are unchanged: News, Spot News, Features, Series, Columns, Editorials, Best Blog and Special Projects. There also is a Student category. See below for detailed descriptions of each category.
The $10 fee per entry for members is unchanged. The fee for non-members also is unchanged at $75 (the same cost of becoming a member).
As usual, winners will be announced as the category judges turn in their results between mid-February and the March 12 judging deadline. The awards will be presented at an April 24 dinner at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., during NAAJ’s annual spring meeting April 23-25, 2017. Contact NAAJ executive secretary-treasurer Kathleen Phillips (979-845-2872 or email@example.com ) for membership and meeting information.
Below are directions for preparing and submitting entries. If you have contest questions, please contact contest coordinator David Hendee at 402-444-1127, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about NAAJ, go to www.naaj.net
Again this year, entries to the NAAJ writing contest will be submitted using BetterBNC Media Awards Platform. The entry process is unchanged from last year
IMPORTANT: BetterBNC is optimized for the Google Chrome browser; and Firefox for PC and Macintosh/Apple. Please have a recent version downloaded and installed for the best contest experience.
How to start:
a. Go to www.betterbnc.com.
b. Click contestant login
c. Select the appropriate contestant type:
1. If you are the single point of contact for your organization, select Contestant Manager, then skip to “d. Contestant Manager Login”.
2. If you have received an email authorizing you to submit entries on behalf of your media organization, select “Authorized Entrant” on the log in page, then skip to “e. Authorized Entrant Login” below
3. If you are an individual submitting your own entries (including nonmembers and freelancers), please see the “Open Call Contestant Only” instructions below
d. Contestant Manager Login:
- Select the contest you would like to enter
- Select your Media Organization
- Enter your password**
- Click “Login”
**Note: If it is your first time logging into your account, use the temporary password: bnc(lower case). After you log in using that temporary password, the system will require you to update your password. Going forward (including future years) you will log in with the password you set. If the designated Contestant Manager should leave your media organization, please contact your Contest Administrator to have the contact info in your account updated.
e. Authorized Entrant Login:
- Select the contest you would like to enter
- Select your Media Organization
- Enter your email address
- Enter your password
- Click “Login”
f. Open Call Login:
- Click “Open Call Login” in the blue bar at the top of the page
- If you already have an Open Call Contestant account, enter your email address and password, then click “Login” and skip to section “g.
Request to make entries in a contest” below
- If you do not already have an Open Call Contestant account, click
“Create your Open Call account”
- Fill out the form
- Click “Submit” at the bottom of the page
Once you fill out the form to create your Open Call Contestant account, the system will send you a validation email with a link that must be clicked before you can log into your account.
g. Request to make entries in a contest (Open Call Only):
- Hover over the red “Open Call Contestant” text in the blue bar at the top of the page
- Select “My Contests” in the menu that appears
- In the “Available Contests” section, check the box next to the contest you would like to enter
- Hover over the red “Open Call Contestant” text again
- Select “Manage Entries”
a. Click “Submit Entry” from the Manage Entries page
b. Select a Division (group of Categories)
c. Select a Category
d. Select the Media Organization where the entry was published or performed
(Open Call Only)
e. Enter the entry headline or title
f. Add entry content (may vary by category)
- To upload digital file attachments (other than audio/video), click “Browse”, navigate to the desired file, and then click “Open”. Allowed file types are PDF, DOC/DOCX, TXT, JPG, GIF, and PNG. 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, however, we suggest keeping your files around 5MB in case the judges have a slow connection. 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 3rd-party website that provides hosting services (scribd.com, issuu.com, etc.)
- To add web/audio/video content, copy and paste the content’s URL address into the provided Website URL field. To host your content online, either upload it to a free streaming content website (e.g.YouTube) or talk to your IT person about adding it to your publication’s website. Make sure the content will be accessible online throughout the duration of the contest and awards process.Here are some examples of free streaming content websites where you can upload audio and video content:
- IMPORTANT: Please be sure that items are not behind a paywall or a password-protected area. If they are, you must provide username/password info in the Comments section of your entry.Judges may disqualify your entry if work samples are inaccessible.
g. Add Comments
h. Enter Credits
i. Click “Submit Entry”
- Pay for Entries
a. When all entries are submitted log into your account
b. Navigate to the Manage Entries page
c. Click “Calculate Entry Fees”
d. Follow the on-screen instructions to pay for your entries
NAAJ Contest Categories
News: Informs readers about a timely, important, interesting agricultural issue or event in an objective, thorough manner.
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.
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.
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.
Column: Allows the writer to express personal observations, humor or feelings on a topic. Include three selected examples to submit as a single entry.
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. Include three selected examples to submit as a single entry.
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. Include three examples of blog posts, along with any reader comments, to submit as a single entry.
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.
Student: There are no sub-categories for students. Each student may submit up to two entries, published in 2016 in a student publication or a publication that would have employees eligible for NAAJ membership.
The 64th annual meeting of the North American Agricultural Journalists will be April 23-25 in Washington, D.C.
The meeting will be headquartered at The Cosmos Club. To reserve a room at the Cosmos Club, 2121 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC, call 202-387-7783. The room block is under North American Agricultural Journalists. The rates are $195 to $225. Reservations were accepted through March 23, but you can try calling to see if there are any still available, if need be.
The NAAJ-Sonja Hillgren Scholarship and Writing Awards Banquet will be April 24 at the National Press Club.
Watch for updates here. Our organizers are lining up speakers as best they can while the new administration takes shape.
(Note: The Cosmos Club has a dress code. Male members and visitors must wear a coat and tie at all times except upon arrival. Women members and visitors are expected to dress accordingly.)
Sunday, April 23
11 a.m. – Meet at The Cosmos Club for transit to Mt. Vernon. (Tickets cost $20 at Mt. Vernon and $18 online. )
6:30 p.m. — Dinner at Farmers and Distillers, 600 Massachusetts Ave. N.W. (pay your own)
Monday, April 24
Cosmos Club, Crentz Room
9 a.m. — Panel: Mary Kay Thatcher, senior director-congressional relations, American Farm Bureau Federation; Zach Clark, National Farmers Union.
10 a.m. — Ray Starling, the special assistant to President Trump for agriculture, trade and food assistance.
Cosmos Club, Old Dining Room
Noon – NAAJ business meeting, Ed White, president, presiding.
Cosmos Club, Crentz Room
1:30 p.m. — Robert Johansson, the USDA chief economist
Confirmation floor debate and the vote for U.S. Secretary Agriculture
National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW
NAAJ-Sonja Hillgren Scholarship Benefit and Awards
5:30 p.m. – Cash‑bar reception and music by the “Second Amendments” band led by U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D‑Minn.
- Invited, Sonny Perdue, following Senate vote as U.S. Agriculture Secretary.
7 p.m.– Dinner and awards
Tuesday, April 25
Dirksen Building, Room 562
10 a.m. – U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas
11 a.m. – U. S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D‑Minn.
11:30 a.m. – U. S. Rep. Michael Conaway, R‑Texas
Noon – U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D‑Mich.
Stories that an Iowa editorial cartoonist may have lost his regular commentary role for offending a major advertiser have spread far and wide, and concerned many about the independence of the farm press in an environment of increasing corporate concentration. The cartoonist, Rick Friday, worked for Farm News of Fort Dodge, Iowa, which says it serves 24,000 readers in 33 counties.
Farmers need to believe the media they rely upon for information, perspective and commentary is independent and is looking out for their right-to-know and their right to hear contrasting commentary on matters that affect their lives and farms. Trust is based on credibility, and credibility is founded upon the belief that publications are committed to their readers’ interests, not those of advertisers or other parties.
This concern with putting readers’ interests first applies to all news publications urban and rural, but for farmers there is a special vulnerability to, and anxiety about, the reliance of farmers and farm media upon a few huge suppliers and advertisers. There are tens of thousands of individual farmers spread across the continent, but certain areas of the agriculture industry are dominated by only a handful of companies, so farmers have a legitimate worry that their general but diffuse interests will be overwhelmed by the concentrated power of major commercial players.
Farm publications need to strive especially hard to ensure that their readers know that their interests are being put first and that advertisers and major commercial interests are not exercising any influence over the news and commentary that appears in their publications. As farmers come to more and more rely upon a few major commercial players as partners in the agriculture industry, so too do they come to rely more and more upon a free and fair farm press to provide them with the information and perspective they require to operate their farms in an always challenging farm economy.
NAAJ members attending the annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in April 2014, were escorted to the new Norman Borlaug statue in the U.S. Capitol. Here is a video by member Ed White, The Western Producer. Pilgrimage to Norman Borlaug Statue
NAAJ photos can be found at NAAJ photos on Flickr
Created by NAAJ, the scholarship encourages high-caliber students to enter agricultural journalism and honors the life of Sonja Hillgren, a leader in the field as a reporter, editor and magazine executive. Hillgren passed away in December 2006 and work on the scholarship began in 2007. It was endowed in 2010. As of April 2014, the scholarship has almost $67,000. For the first couple of years of its endowment, the scholarship was awarded to one student per year. For the first time since its inception, three students were given the scholarship in 2012-13.
Hillgren was a sterling writer who simultaneously saw the big picture of farm policy and the practicalities of modern agriculture. She raised reporting standards through hard work, by being thorough, fair and objective in her work and expanding the realm of “farm reporting” to include diet, tax, trade and environmental policy. Although a formidable competitor, Sonja always was willing to share knowledge with colleagues. All of these are qualities the scholarship intends to propagate. With her designer wardrobe and a sparkling wit, Hillgren made agricultural journalism glamorous, whether as National Press Club president or visiting folks at the county fair.
NAAJ is grateful to Sonja for her role in modernizing the group, formerly the Newspaper Farm Editors of America, into a professional society with an international membership.