CT SPJ student journalism contest now accepting entries

The Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists’ annual student contest is now accepting entries for work published or broadcast during the 2018-19 academic year. 
The contest deadline is May 15 at 11:59 p.m. 
The entry fees are:
  • $5 for college SPJ members (membership ID number required)

  • $10 for non-members and college media outlets paying for entries

If you do not see your news outlet in the system, please contact Contest Clerk Kathleen Farmer at to have it added.
Once you log in, click on the button to enter the awards. From the Main Category drop down, please select “College Contest.” 
These are the categories you can enter:
Audio Storytelling
Feature Photo
General Column/Commentary
General Reporting
News Photo
Non-Page 1 Layout
Page 1 Layout
Sports Feature Story
Sports News Story
Sports Photo
Spot News
Video Storytelling
While the entries must be from the 2018-19 academic year, a technical error on the website makes it so that you MUST enter the year 2018 on the contest site. (Judges will verify that the work was published/broadcast during the 2018-19 academic year).
The work must have been published online or in print, or broadcast or streamed.
Contest winners will be announced at an event this fall at a venue TBD. 

Excellence in Journalism Winners Announced

Winners of the 2017 Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism Awards were announced May 24 during the organization’s annual meeting and awards dinner at Grassy Hill Country Club in Orange. 

The awards recognized outstanding reporting by news professionals throughout Connecticut. 

“It’s always good to recognize great work, but it’s even more important during a time when many public figures seek to discredit the journalists tasked with holding them accountable,” said Mike Savino, president of CTSPJ. “One way to combat all of the negativity toward and distrust of the news media is to highlight all of the ways the great work journalists continue to do. Thursday’s ceremony is just another example of how journalists at outlets throughout Connecticut, big or small, serve the communities around them.” 

Notable awards:

Stephen A. Collins Public Service Award
Hartford schools: More separate, still unequal 

Hartford Courant; Vanessa de la Torre, Matthew Kauffman, Kathleen Megan

Judges’ comments: This reporting incorporates a broad range of interviews and data to tell an important story about seemingly failed efforts to desegregate schools. The reporters employ graphics and multimedia to tell the story. This package emerged from a very tight and competitive field. This was an extremely deep category with a number of entries delving into a range of important public service stories. All the entrants should be proud of producing strong public service journalism.

Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award: 
Capital Prep lottery investigation
Hartford Courant; Vanessa de la Torre, Matthew Kauffman

Matthew Kauffman of the Hartford Courant accepting its awards.

Judges comments: The reporters went to extraordinary lengths to interview sources and gave the accused an opportunity to respond to their reporting, and did a great job explaining the issues to an outsider who may be unfamiliar with Connecticut schools and the role of sports in those schools and beyond. The reporting captured multiple perspectives on the controversy surrounding recruitment.

First Amendment Award:
Surveillance video, records offer new perspective on UConn student’s 2016 death
Hartford Courant; Vinny Vella, Matthew Kauffman

Judges comments: Now more than ever, enhancing the public view of the press is an act worth recognizing. The Courant piece demonstrates the power of the press to shed light in ways that citizens alone rarely can. For Jeffny Pally, for her family and friends, for the UConn community, and for the citizens of Hartford, the Courant used its power to hold public officials accountable for actions that might have otherwise, and easily, been under-examined. I can hardly put it better than John Ferraro did in his submission: “We had an obligation to provide the public with a full understanding of how our government employees conduct themselves.”

But this piece also shows the responsibility of the press, not just its power. The Courant had raw footage of a young woman’s death. It would have been easy to publish the video in its entirety and draw web traffic in droves to view something so grotesque. The Courant quite purposefully did not. They showed only the footage that was necessary for understanding.

Excellence in Journalism college contest now open for entries

The Connecticut SPJ college contest is now open for entries. The contest deadline is April 15, 2018.

The entry fees are:

  • $5 for SPJ student members (membership ID number required)
  • $10 for non-members and news organizations paying for entries

The contest is open for items published or broadcast in the 2017-18 academic year. Because of a technical issue, please use 2017 as the year for all entries. 

Entries are limited to three per person per category. Each story, editorial, photo, etc. is a separate entry. Each item can be entered no more than two times in the contest.

Print entries can be submitted as PDFs or JPGs of a page. Entrants may also submit alink to the article as it appeared on a news organization’s website. 

For broadcast entries, you may submit your content in the form of a link to your video or broadcast. 

Content online must remain live and accessible until May in order to be considered for the contest. 

Click here to enter the contest

Awards will be presented at the annual Excellence in Journalism dinner on Thursday, May 24, at 6 p.m. at Grassy Hill Country Club in Orange, Conn.

2016 Contest Winners announced

The Connecticut Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists handed out more than 350 awards to journalists from around the state at its annual Excellence in Journalism dinner on Thursday, May 25.

A PDF of the full winners list can be downloaded here. *

The Hartford Courant, Norwich Bulletin and Connecticut Post took home the top three all-media awards.

First Amendment Award

Andrew Julien, the editor/publisher for the Hartford Courant, left, accepts the First Amendment Award from CTSPJ President Michael Savino, right, on behalf of winner Jon Lender. | Viktoria Sundqvist photo

The Courant’s Jon Lender won the First Amendment Award for his article “Malloy’s office demands daily memos from agencies on press calls.”

Judges said: “Love the lede. In an age where people routinely equate bad publicity with ‘fake news,’ this grabs your attention and makes it clear that this is a piece that speaks truth to power. The use of FOIA requests is effective to help paint a fuller picture of what’s going on.”






Stephen A. Collins Public Service Award

CTSPJ President Michael Savino congratulates Ryan Blessing of the Norwich Bulletin on winning the Stephen A. Collins Public Service Award. | Viktoria Sundqvist photo

Ryan Blessing of the Norwich Bulletin won the Stephen A. Collins Public Service Award for his reporting on “Derbygate:” public officials taking all-expenses-paid trips to the Kentucky Derby, funded by the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative.

Judges said: “This series of stories exposes a shocking level of ethical abuses.  Nice packaging and stellar reporting.  Ryan Blessing uncovered a wealth of public records and documents and supplemented his reporting with solid interviews.  Ryan’s investigation led to an FBI investigation and other changes to ethics policies.  The story uncovered a problem and generated results, all in the public interest.  This was an excellent piece of public interest journalism.”



Theodore Driscoll Award for Investigative Reporting

Barbara Roessner, the executive editor for Hearst Media Group, accepts the Theodore Driscoll Award for Investigative Reporting on behalf of Ken Dixon, Angela Carella and Neil Vigdor. | Viktoria Sundqvist photo

Ken Dixon, Angela Carella and Neil Vigdor from the Connecticut Post won the Theodore Driscoll Award for Investigative Reporting for their reporting on “Inside the money game,” which tracked the path of political donations toward Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s 2014 re-election campaign.

Judges said: “A meticulously reported story on how politics is for sale in Connecticut and how big-money contributors find ways to give to campaigns indirectly by getting around campaign-finance laws. This is a story that should alarm every voter in the state.”







*The College Contest General Reporting winners did not appear on the final winners list. The winners were:

(1) Cracks in the system: How a sex offender was able to go undetected; The Recorder; Analisa Novak
(2) Too little too late: How a CCSU’s student death could have been prevented; The Recorder; Analisa Novak
(3) Quinnipiac unveils new brand identity; Quinnipiac Chronicle; Thamar Bailey

Sigma Delta Chi Awards entry deadline is Feb. 13

The following is a message from National SPJ about the SDX awards:
Journalism as a profession is experiencing a lot of change and is under a microscope, perhaps now more than ever. Here at SPJ, we know most journalists follow high standards and practice ethical journalism daily.

Part of SPJ’s mission is to foster excellence among journalists. We do that by honoring great journalism with Sigma Delta Chi Awards. SDX Awards recognize your hard work and showcase the ethical, excellent journalism produced by journalists every day.

As the new year begins, take a moment to reflect on your work from 2016. Pick your best pieces and submit them for the Sigma Delta Chi Awards. You can find all the information about the contest here.

The deadline to submit your work is Feb. 13

Excellence in Journalism Contest Circulation Categories

The following is the list of circulation categories for the Excellence in Journalism contest, which is open for entries through Feb. 15, 2018. If you don’t see your media outlet listed here, please contact contest clerk Jessica Garin at, and we will add it.

These categories are based, in part, on media outlets’ advertised coverage areas and staffing levels. To petition for a change in circulation class, please contact Contest Chair Jodie Mozdzer Gil. The CTSPJ Board of Directors will consider all requests, and any approved changes will take effect in the next year’s contest season.

Regional A

  • Connecticut Health Investigative Team
  • Connecticut Mirror
  • Connecticut Post
  • Hartford Courant
  • New Haven Register
  • Waterbury Republican American
  • Any Hearst Connecticut collaboration

Regional B

  • Connecticut Law Tribune
  • CT News Junkie
  • Danbury News-Times
  • Manchester Journal-Inquirer
  • Meriden Record Journal
  • Norwich Bulletin
  • Stamford Advocate
  • The Day (New London)
  • CT Latino News
  • Greater New Milford Spectrum
  • Litchfield County Times
  • The Middletown Press
  • New Britain Herald
  • The Register Citizen
  • The Chronicle
  • The Hour
  • Fairfield County Business Journal

Regional C (Magazines)

  • AAA Journeys and AAA Horizons
  • Connecticut Magazine
  • Hartford Magazine
  • New Haven Living Magazine
  • Connecticut Parent Magazine
  • Catholic Transcript

Regional D (Broadcast)

  • WTNH
  • WFSB
  • WTIC
  • WNPR
  • WSHU
  • News12


  • Citizens News
  • Hersam Acorn weeklies
  • Shore Publishing weeklies
  • TurleyCT publications
  • New Britain City Journal
  • Online Journalism Project publications
  • Hearst Connecticut weeklies

* Note: Any item that appeared in a higher circulation publication should be entered in that circulation class, not in the hyperlocal circulation.

2016 Excellence in Journalism Contest Open For Entries

The CTSPJ 2016 Excellence in Journalism Contest is now open for entries.

You can enter the contest here.

Last year, CTSPJ revised its contest to reflect changes in the industry. Based on feedback and entry numbers, we made one more adjustment in circulation classes this year. Magazines are in their own circulation class again, now called Region C (Magazines). The print and online publications that were in the old Regional C have been combined with Regional B for the 2016 contest. This decision was made based on the number of entries in the 2015 contest.

Please review the circulation class list before entering. If you do not see your media outlet on the list, please contact contest clerk Jessica Garin at

With the changing news industry and changes at individual news outlets, the CTSPJ board will continue to review the circulation classes each year. If you have feedback on the placement of your news outlet, please contact Contest Chair Jodie Mozdzer Gil at Any requests for review will be considered by the full CTSPJ Board of Directors before the following year’s contest.


All media outlets compete against each other in the top three special awards categories. For the rest of the categories (below), media outlets will compete in one of five circulation classes.

Stephen A. Collins Public Service Award
This is a special award open to all media for a story or stories having a significant impact in the public interest. Entries must include supporting documentation such as letters, editorials, evidence of a change in public policy, showing how the entry had an impact. Please include a cover letter with the entry.
Theodore Driscoll Award for Investigative Reporting
This is a special award open to all media for a single story or formal series containing information, obtained through reporter initiative not readily available to the news media or public.
First Amendment Award
This is a special award open to all media for a single story, column or series which increases public understanding of the role of the press in a free society.

Editorial Cartoon | A single cartoon online or in print
Single Editorial | Represents the opinion of the publication, station or news website as an organization
General Column | A single (other than sports or humorous) that expresses an opinion or point of view on an issues or event
Humorous Column | A single column on any topic with the purpose to entertain
In-Depth | A single story that helps audience understand situation beyond information provided in a normal news story
Investigative | A single story containing information obtained through reporter initiative that was not readily available to the news media or the public
Feature | Any story written for a reason other than timeliness. (Please note, this was omitted from an earlier list in error)
Religion | A story dealing with religious topics
Government | A story dealing with government topics
Courts/Crime | Any story dealing with issues of the criminal justice system, except for breaking news
Arts & Entertainment | A single story dealing with the arts
Business | A single story dealing with business
Leisure | A story dealing with travel, food, gardening, or other leisure topics
Continuing Coverage | No more than 10 articles that follow the same topic over time
Diversity Coverage | Single story on a diversity issue
Education | A single story on an education issue
Reporting Series | A formal series of no more than 10 articles, including investigative, in-depth or feature series
Local Reporting | A story that shines light on an issue important to a single town or region. This category is meant for those stories that fulfill the mission of community journalism.
Breaking News | A single story or package of stories and social media updates that involves coverage of a spot news event written under an immediate deadline.
Sports News | A single story on a sports news topic
Sports Feature | A single story on a sports topic, written for a factor other than timeliness
Sports Column | A single column on a sports topic
Sports Photo | A single sports photo
Feature Photo | A single feature photo
News Photo | A single news photo
Photo Essay | A collection of photos, either in print or online, that together tell one story.
Page 1 Layout | A category for the person who arranged the text and images, not for the writers or photographers of the materials on the page.
Non-Page 1 Layout | Any single page design that was not on page 1
Headline | A single entry is made up of three headlines, all the work on a single individual
Infographic Design | The design of a single static or interactive graphic
Infographic Reporting | The reporting of a single static or interactive graphic
Video Storytelling | Use of video to tell a story alone or bolster written reporting
Audio Storytelling | Use of audio to tell a story alone or bolster written reporting

Contest feedback survey

CTSPJ updated its contest circulation and categories this year. The Board of Directors would like feedback from those who entered the contest as we review and discuss the changes at our summer board meeting.

Please fill out this survey with any feedback from your experience with the contest this year, before June 25.

CTSPJ Contest Revision Proposal

Connecticut SPJ has been talking and thinking a lot about our contest. And we’ve decided it’s time for an update.

So we present to you our plans to move forward for the 2015 Excellence in Journalism Contest, which will open for entries in late December 2015, and close for entries some time in February 2016.

We invite your feedback at this critical stage in the redesign. Please send any comments, questions or suggestions to Contest Chair Jodie Mozdzer Gil at by Aug. 15.

Read more →

CTSPJ Announces Winners of the 2014 Excellence in Journalism Contest

Stories about police departments failing FOI compliance checks, train derailments along the Metro North line and a charter school CEO with a shady past were among those that garnered top awards at the Connecticut SPJ awards dinner Thursday, May 21.

Read more →

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