Changes in contest administration prompt delay


It’s likely that you have begun to wonder when an announcement about our annual contests was coming. It’s traditionally been around this time of year that the contest window opens, but that is not the case for this year.

With nearly 700 entries in contests last year, we knew we wanted a system that would be easier for schools, for coordinators and for judges. In looking for ways to streamline the coordination and judging of contests, journalismSTL sought a more efficient way. We have partnered with BetterBNC, who have worked with many professional, collegiate and scholastic journalism organizations around the country to organize their contests.

BetterBNC provides us with one location for schools to enter contests and upload entries, for contest coordinators to assign judges and then for judges to provide feedback. When judging is complete, feedback and ratings will be available to schools – all without the need to copy and share multiple Google documents and spreadsheets. It is our hope that this will provide a better contest experience for all participants – entrants, judges and coordinators.

This partnership does put a delay on when contests will begin. At this time, we are not yet ready to open the contests, but anticipate that we will be able to do so by the beginning of the year. The contest entry deadline will still be in February, so while the window to enter contests is reduced, in looking at last year’s entries over half of the entries came in the final two weeks before the deadline. 

For schools who use preparing contest entries as part of a final, that can still be a productive endeavor. We are not changing any of the contest categories from last year, so your students can prepare entries based off of those contests to enter and upload once the contest portal is open. You can find a list of all contests entry requirements here.

Finally, if you are a member of the jSTL Slack, you saw that we have posted links for you to access the evaluation forms our judges use for contests. We are making them available to members so you can use them in your classroom and so you can see what it is our judges are looking for in the contests. Check out that post on Slack here. Can’t access the jSTL member Slack? Find out more information here.