National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Annual Column Contest

Opens: January 15, 2021 12:00 a.m. (EST)  Closes: March 15, 2021 11:59 p.m. (EST)

General Guidelines

Each entry consists of Two (2) original print or digital columns or column-like content published between Jan. 1., 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020.

While the NSNC does not seek to confine the term “columnist” to specific parameters, we do seek contest entries consisting of work created with the tenets of the NSNC Member’s Code of Conduct in mind. The NSNC values work created with integrity that seeks to “inform, educate and entertain readers and viewers,” and which seeks to further open discussion and the goals of free speech. 

Columns and content can consist of wide-ranging content centered on any subject, but do not typically consist of reported, “hard” news pieces. Reported columns with commentary are acceptable. 

Media outlet examples: newspapers, magazines, trade journals, blogs, user-created video platforms, podcast platforms. Please inquire if further clarification is needed.

Official rules can be found on the NSNC website.

Entry Fees

  • NSNC member entry fee: $30
  • Non-Member entry fee: $60 (yearly membership $75 - join here)
  • Student entry fee: $15 (must have been a student during 2020)

Instructions

  1. Enjoy discounted entry fee by becoming an NSNC member. Read all member benefits HERE.
  2. Complete the online entry form below.
  3. Attach 2 columns or digital content pieces.
    1. Print entries: PDF is preferred and can often be provided by the publication. Scanned entries converted to PDF are also okay. No scanner? Consider using a scanning app for your mobile device, for instance, TurboScan or ScannerPro. These apps can create and convert high quality photos to full size PDF documents.
    2. Online entries: PDF converted from the webpage is preferred. Many free tools are available online or built into popular web browsers. For instance, https://webpagetopdf.com. Include URL where content was published. Please indicate whether access is restricted by a paywall -- this is for verification; NOT in lieu of a PDF attachment.
    3. Multi-byline or team entries: Follow print or online entry guidelines. Also, list all contributors and a single contact address on the entry form.
    4. Vlogs, podcasts, videos, and other digital multimedia content: Provide a live link to the content on the entry form, if access is not restricted by a paywall. Alternatively, attach an .mp3 or .mp4 file to your entry and list the URL on the entry form. Submittable cannot accept additional file formats; please reach out if you cannot convert your content into one of these formats. 
    5. NEW: Student entries. Either print or online publications will be accepted. Please see instructions above for submission information for both formats. Entrants must have been enrolled students at their publication's school during 2020.

Note: Entries that do not include a clear publication date may be disqualified. Please make every effort to attach files where the date is listed on the page, in the URL, or otherwise apparent. Examples of places where dates might be displayed include a visible time-stamp, copyright notice, or printed publication date. Screenshots converted to .jpg can also be uploaded to help establish the publication date of online material.

Prizes

  • First: 3-Year NSNC Membership ($200 value)
  • Second: 1-Year NSNC Membership ($75 value)
  • Third: 1-Year NSNC Membership ($75 value)

Judging decisions are final. Second, Third and Honorable mention places may not be awarded in a given category.

Certificates will be issued to winning columnists at each level. 

Categories

New for 2021: Sports, Lifestyles, Crisis, Social Justice, Editorial Cartoon categories; all categories now open to students.

Content with multiple authors should be entered in categories E.

A. General Interest, Print

B. General Interest, Online and Multimedia Digital Content

C. Humor, Print 

D. Humor, Online and Multimedia Digital Content

E. Team, Print AND/OR Online/Multimedia Digital Content

F. Sports, Print AND/OR Online/Multimedia Digital Content

G. Lifestyles, Print AND/OR Online/Multimedia Digital Content

H. Crisis, Print AND/OR Online/Multimedia Digital Content

I. Social Justice, Print AND/OR Online/Multimedia Digital Content

J. Editorial Cartoon, Print AND/OR Online/Multimedia Digital Content

Responses to FAQ

Winners are announced online via video published on the NSNC website.

Yes, columnists can enter in multiple categories.

Yes, media outlets can submit entries from multiple eligible columnists, for example, a newspaper submitting writer content.

No, pseudonyms are not permitted - author names must appear on column or clearly referenced within digital content.

Eligible works are those published for the first time between Jan. 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020.

The “online” categories are reserved for content published exclusively online. 

No, works originally published in print and subsequently published online are not eligible for the online categories and should be submitted in the appropriate print categories.

2021 Contact Information

Adam Earnheardt, Contest Chair: nsnccontest@gmail.com

Please direct contest inquiries to the above email.

NSNC Mission Statement

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists was founded in 1977 and exists to promote education, professionalism, and camaraderie among columnists and other writers of the serial essay, including bloggers. Membership is open to general interest, humor, items, op-ed, video, multimedia or other columnists. Academics and student columnists also are eligible to join. The annual conference is NSNC’s primary event. The educational group also publishes a monthly newsletter, maintains the NSNC website and advocates for columnists and free-press issues. 

This category includes columns published in print on subjects including politics, criticism, analysis, reportage, etc (except humor, sports, lifestyles). “Items” columns, which comprise a series of short takes, are welcome. Columns posted online simultaneously or after print publication are acceptable.

Unsigned editorials and the like are NOT acceptable. 

This category is for entries from all printed periodicals, including weeklies, magazines and specialty publications. 

This category includes ONLINE ONLY columns on subjects including politics, criticism, analysis, reportage, etc (except humor, sports, lifestyles). “Items” columns, which comprise a series of short takes, are welcome. This category is not intended for work that was initially printed and then published online, as is common with many newspapers. Thus, columns posted online simultaneously or after print publication are NOT acceptable. 

Unsigned editorials and the like are NOT acceptable.

This category is for entries from two main fields: 1) Online editions of print publications where the publication was an "online-only" publication, including aggregator sites, commercial and nonprofit media websites and portals, and so forth. 2) Individuals’ personal websites, independent blogs, small-group online journals, community or hyperlocal journalism sites, social media accounts, etc. 

Ends on $15.00 - 60.00
$15.00 - 60.00

This category includes columns published in print - broad-based humor, including columns intended to entertain as well as general or specialty columns that use wit heavily. “Items” or short-takes humor columns are welcome. Columns posted online simultaneously or after print publication are acceptable.

This category is for entries from all printed periodicals, including weeklies, magazines and specialty publications, regardless of circulation. 

This category includes ONLINE ONLY columns with broad-based humor, including columns intended to entertain as well as general or specialty columns that use wit heavily. “Items” or short-takes humor columns are welcome. This category is not intended for work that was initially printed and then published online, as is common with many newspapers. Thus, columns posted online simultaneously or after print publication are NOT acceptable.

Unsigned editorials and the like are NOT acceptable.

This category is for entries from two main fields: 1) Online editions of print publications where the publication was an "online-only" publication, including aggregator sites, commercial and nonprofit media websites and portals, and so forth. 2) Individuals’ personal websites, independent blogs, small-group online journals, community or hyperlocal journalism sites, social media accounts, etc.

This category is for team-based columns (more than one columnist) appearing in print and/or online. Team, partner-written, and otherwise multi-authored printed and/or online columns on any subject including politics, sports, criticism, lifestyles, crisis, social justice, analysis, reportage etc. are welcome. Columns posted online simultaneously or after print publication are acceptable.

Unsigned editorials are NOT acceptable, while those signed by editorial teams are acceptable.

This category is for entries from all printed periodicals, including weeklies, magazines and specialty publications, regardless of circulation as well as all online publications (including multimedia digital content).

This category is for sports columns appearing in print and/or online. Columns in this category take readers beyond facts and stats and deliver commentary through player profiles, performance opinions, analysis of trends, or more controversial issues (e.g., concussions in football, taxpayer funded stadiums, steroid use). Columns posted online simultaneously or after print publication are acceptable.

Unsigned editorials are NOT acceptable.

This category is for entries from all printed periodicals, including weeklies, magazines and specialty publications, regardless of circulation as well as all online publications (including multimedia digital content). 

This category is for lifestyle columns appearing in print and/or online. Columns in this category typically include entertainment, health, technology, family/parenting, profiles, reviews, and more.

Columns posted online simultaneously or after print publication are acceptable.

Unsigned editorials are NOT acceptable.

This category is for entries from all printed periodicals, including weeklies, magazines and specialty publications, regardless of circulation as well as all online publications (including multimedia digital content).

This category is for columns appearing in print and/or online with a focus on crisis commentary. Content may focus on life during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, crisis columns may also include commentary on disasters and other events that critically alter the regular order of the daily lives of an individual, group or community. 

Columns posted online simultaneously or after print publication are acceptable. 

Unsigned editorials are NOT acceptable.

This category is for entries from all printed periodicals, including weeklies, magazines and specialty publications, regardless of circulation as well as all online publications (including multimedia digital content). 

This category is for social justice columns appearing in print and/or online. According to the United Nations, “Social justice may be broadly understood as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth." Columns in this category offer commentary on social justice issues related education, economics, housing, etc. in the contexts of equal opportunities, rights, and treatment.

Columns posted online simultaneously or after print publication are acceptable.

Unsigned editorials are NOT acceptable.

This category is for entries from all printed periodicals, including weeklies, magazines and specialty publications, regardless of circulation as well as all online publications (including multimedia digital content).

This category is for editorial cartoons appearing in print and/or online. Cartoons in this category provide original commentary with clear understanding about current issues, political topics or historical events through effective uses of illustration, with or without text. 

Columns posted online simultaneously or after print publication are acceptable.

Unsigned editorial cartoons are NOT acceptable.

This category is for entries from all printed periodicals, including weeklies, magazines and specialty publications, regardless of circulation as well as all online publications (including multimedia digital content).

National Society of Newspaper Columnists