Awards

Enter the 2013 IRE Awards contest

Click here to download the questionnaire, which is a required component of your entry. It's suggested that you answer the questionnaire before you start the online entry process.

IRE Awards

Frequently Asked Questions

 


What are the IRE Awards?
The IRE Awards is the annual contest of Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. recognizing the best in investigative reporting by print, broadcast and online media.

After judging, all entries are placed in IRE's Resource Center story library so that IRE members may learn from others' triumphs and troubles. The contest helps identify techniques and resources used by the entrants.

 

Who is eligible for the contest?
It's important to note that the IRE Awards program is unique in its efforts to avoid conflicts of interest. Work that included any significant role by an IRE contest judge may not be entered in the contest. This often represents a significant sacrifice on the part of the individual -- and sometimes an entire newsroom. The IRE membership appreciates this devotion to the values of the organization. (See current board members)

 

This year's elected contest judges (who will join an appointed contest task force):

  • Ziva Branstetter, Tulsa World (chair)
  • Ron Nixon, The New York Times
  • Stuart Watson, WCNC-Charlotte
  • Ryan Gabrielson, The Center for Investigative Reporting
  • Shannon McCaffery, Atlanta Journal-Constituion
  • Stacey Woelfel, University of Missouri-Columbia 

 

What are the judging criteria?
Entries will be judged on the basis of the IRE definition of investigative reporting. “The reporting, through one’s own initiative and work product, of matters of importance to readers, viewers or listeners. In many cases, the subjects of the reporting wish the matters under scrutiny to remain undisclosed.”

Thus entries will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Substantially the product of the reporter’s own initiative and effort
  • Uncovers facts that someone or some agency may have tried to keep from public scrutiny.
  • Be about issues of public importance to the readers, viewers or listeners
  • Shows enterprise and excellence in documentation, data, storytelling, production, online presentation, and reader or viewer involvement where appropriate
  • Results

Each category of the IRE Awards is reviewed by screeners. The screened entries move forward to the IRE Awards Committee, made of up of members of the IRE Board and other elected and appointed investigative journalists. The Awards Committee determines the finalists, winners, and medalists of the IRE Awards. At the judges’ discretion, the decision may be made to give no award or award multiple entries in a given category.

 

Can IRE board members enter?
Yes, as long as the board member does not also serve on the contest committee.
From their June 2013 meeting, the IRE Board of Directors adopted the following language:
Members of the IRE Contest Committee, including any member of the IRE Board who serves on the committee and the IRE board president, are prohibited from entering the IRE Awards for the year during which they serve. Any work that the committee member was involved with in any way is disqualified from consideration. Once appointed, even if a committee member resigns from the committee prior to judging, such work is still disqualified. IRE Board members who do not serve on the contest committee may submit contest entries for consideration. Contest Committee members must disclose any potential conflicts of interest to the committee and to IRE’s executive director and shall recuse themselves from discussion and voting on entries where they are deemed by fellow committee members as having an actual conflict. If a member recuses themselves during voting, a written record will be kept of such recusals and shall be reported to the membership.
The Contest Committee will consist of at least six members, and can include a mix of Board members, representatives elected by the membership and representatives appointed by the chair of the contest committee in conjunction with the executive director. No single news organization (newspaper, broadcast station, online news site, etc.) shall be represented by more than one judge.
Pre-screeners of contest entries shall not screen categories in which their own news organization is competing. Pre-screeners must promptly notify IRE staff and their co-screeners of any potential conflict of interest they identify once they see the entries they are reviewing. 

 

How do I participate?
You can now enter the IRE Awards contest online. If you are a current member, ENTER HERE.

If you are NOT a current member, GO HERE. After joining, GO HERE to proceed.

 

What categories are now eligible to enter online?

All categories are eligible to enter online, you'll be able to upload PDFs and include URLs, but we require hard copies to be mailed to us if any audio or video are included in the entry, as well as all book entries. Please pay special attention to the rules outlined for each category you enter.


What if I don't want to enter online? Can I still mail hard copies?
We will still allow some mailed entries but on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Lauren, the contest coordinator, for more information, lauren@ire.org or 573-882-6668573-882-6668 .

Where do I go to enter online?
If you are a current member, ENTER HERE.

If you are NOT a current member, GO HERE.

 

What if no one on my team is a member?
At least one contributor to the entry MUST be a member. To join, GO HERE.

After joining GO HERE to proceed.

 

What if I'm an awards coordinator entering on behalf of someone?
You'll still need a username and password but will NOT be eligible to join. GO HERE to create a username and password, then proceed with entering HERE.

 

Can you send me an example of a contest entry to help me prepare my entry?
To view an example of a successful contest entry, you can purchase a copy of a winner or finalist from a previous contest. View past award winners and finalists, make your selection(s), write down the story number, and contact the IRE Resource Center at 573-882-3364573-882-3364  or rescntr@ire.org. You can also search for the phrase "contest entry" in the IRE Resource Center story database.

 

How much does it cost to enter?
$55 for members of IRE. (Membership must be current through February 1, 2014.)
$125 for nonmembers. ($55 entry fee, plus a one-year membership fee of $70.)
$25 for students who are not current members of IRE. (This fee includes a one-year student membership.)
Students who are current IRE members do not have to pay an entry fee. (Membership must be current through Feb. 1, 2014.)
All fees are non-refundable.

 

What work is eligible for the contest?
All work must have been published or aired between Jan. 1, 2013 thru Dec. 31, 2013.

 

What is the deadline for entering the contest?
Jan. 10, 2014, 11:59 pm, PST.

 

What actions would result in a disqualification?
Judges may disqualify any entry with an incomplete questionnaire. Work that included a significant role by a current IRE contest judge may not be entered. Entries disregarding the rules will be subject to disqualification, such as not mailing hard copies of your video or audio.

 

Is there a limit to the amount of entries I can submit?
There is no limit to the number of entries you may submit or the number of stories you may submit per entry, except for:

  • Tom Renner Award: Limit of 10 stories
  • Investigations Triggered by Breaking News: Limit of 5 stories

However, if the same story is entered in two separate categories (such as "Medium Print/Online" and "FOIA"), that constitutes two (2) separate entries.

 

Do you accept entries in languages other than English?
We accept entries in languages other than English, but we require that your entry is accompanied by a complete translation of the story(ies) submitted. Broadcast/video entries in another language should include English subtitles.

 

What are the different types of awards?
All winning entries, unless otherwise noted, will receive an IRE Award. If the contest judges determine a story has special merit, an IRE medal will be awarded.

 

How many categories are there, what are they and what do I need to include in my entry? 
There are 16 categories (see below). Most fall into four broad areas – Print/Online (written word) (large, medium, small); Broadcast/Video (large, medium, small); Radio/Audio (one category, all sizes); Multimedia (large, medium, small). In addition there are categories for book, student, and several special awards. In all cases when two or more news organizations collaborated on an entry, it must be entered in the size category that corresponds to the largest organization.

Print, online, broadcast and multiplatform:

Large
Includes: newspapers with +350k circulation (largest single day); wire services; network or syndicated TV; magazines, weeklies and online-only media with a national audience. For partnerships or collaborations, please enter by largest  organization involved.

Medium
Includes: newspapers with 151k-349k circulation (largest single day); Top 20 television markets; magazines, weeklies and online-only media with a regional* audience. For partnerships or collaborations, please enter by largest organization involved.

Small
Includes: newspapers with <150k circulation (largest single day); Below Top 20 television markets; magazines, weeklies, and online-only organizations with a local* audience. For partnerships or collaborations, please enter by largest organization involved.

*For online-only news organizations, magazines and weeklies, size is determined by primary coverage area. An organization with a primary focus on a city, county or metropolitan area falls into the “local” category. An organization with a primary focus on a larger region, state or multi-state area falls into the “regional” category. 

Print/Online (written word)-Large, Medium and Small: To be eligible for this category, your story must be primarily in print or online text. Any audio or video elements will be considered only as supplementary material.
Rules for entering the Print/Online category:

  • Please upload your story as a PDF AND/OR include links to your story online on step 6 of the online entry. You can include cover letters and letters to the judges here but it is not required to do so. There is a 15 MB file size limit.

Broadcast/Video-Large, Medium and Small: To be eligible for the category, your story must be primarily presented in video. Any text or audio elements will be considered only as supplementary material.
Rules for entering the Broadcast/Video category:   

  • Please upload your script and include any URLs you'd like the judges to view on step 6 of the online entry process. At this page, it is suggested you include links to your video online, but it is not a requirement. You can include cover letters and letters to the judges here but it is not required to do so. There is a 15 MB file size limit.
  • Please remove any advertising from your video.
  • Three (3) hard copies of your video entry must accompany your online entry (we accept formats that VLC supports). Failure to do so may disqualify your entry. Please write your organization's name, the title of your entry and the total run time on each DVD. Send hard copies to:

2013 IRE Awards
c\o Lauren Grandestaff
141 Neff Annex
Missouri School of Journalism
Columbia, MO 65211

Radio/Audio (one category, all sizes): To be eligible for the category, your story must be primarily presented in audio. Any text or video elements will be considered only as supplementary material.
Rules for entering the Radio/Audio category:

  • Please upload your transcript and include any URLs you'd like the judges to view on step 6 of the online entry process. At this page, it is suggested you include links to your audio online, but it is not a requirement. You can include cover letters and letters to the judges here but it is not required to do so. There is a 15 MB file size limit.
  • Please remove any advertising from your audio.
  • Three (3) hard copies of your audio entry must accompany your online entry. Failure to do so may disqualify your entry. Please write your organization's name, the title of your entry and the total run time on each CD. Send hard copies to:

2013 IRE Awards
c\o Lauren Grandestaff
141 Neff Annex
Missouri School of Journalism
Columbia, MO 65211

Multiplatform-Large, Medium, Small: To be eligible for this category, your story must consist substantially of two or more platforms (print/online (written word), radio/audio, TV/video, interactive graphics, etc.). More than one media in a partnership or collaboration may enter this category.
Rules for entering the Multiplatform category:

  • Please upload any scripts and include any URLs you'd like the judges to view on step 6 of the online entry process. At this page, it is suggested you should include links to your project online. You can include cover letters and letters to the judges here but it is not required to do so. There is a 15 MB file size limit.
  • Three (3) hard copies of the audio or video from your entry must accompany your online entry. Failure to do so may disqualify your entry. Please write your organization's name, the title of your entry and the total run time on each disc. Send hard copies to:

2013 IRE Awards
c\o Lauren Grandestaff
141 Neff Annex
Missouri School of Journalism
Columbia, MO 65211

Other Media: For outstanding investigative reporting in other mediums.

  • Book 

Special Categories: (Any medium, any size circulation or market)

  •  Tom Renner Award: For the best investigative reporting, whether a single story or a lifetime body of work, in print/online (written word), broadcast/video, radio/audio or book form, covering organized crime or other criminal acts. This award comes with An IRE Medal for Outstanding Crime Reporting and $500. (Limited to 10 stories)
  • IRE FOI Award: Honors individual or organization whose significant actions further open records or open government. This award comes with an IRE Medal honoring an individual or organization whose actions further open records or open government.
  • Investigations Triggered by Breaking News: For outstanding investigative work done within 30 days of a news event or development. This award honors deep and quick digging that uses investigative techniques to produce exclusive and timely information for readers or viewers. (Limit to 5 stories.)
  • Student Work: Outstanding investigative reporting by a student in a college-affiliated newspaper, online, magazine or specialty publication, broadcast or radio/audio work that has been publicly reviewed, screened and aired. This can include work done while serving an unpaid internship. This award comes with a $250 cash scholarship for Outstanding Investigative Reporting.
  • Gannett Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism: The award recognizes the use of digital innovation in the gathering and/or delivery of watchdog and investigative news to its audience. It honors work that stands out for its creative use of digital tools to further a news organizations ability to serve as a watchdog in its community. This comes with a $5,000 prize from Gannett.

* International entries will be placed into appropriate categories by IRE.

 

What are the specifications for regional and local audience?
For online-only news organizations, magazines and weeklies, size is determined by primary coverage area. An organization with a primary focus on a city, county or metropolitan area falls into the "local" category. An organization with a primary focus on a larger region, state or multi- state area falls into the "regional" category.

 

What are the differences between primary and supplemental material?
You will be asked to designate each element you upload as either primary or supplemental. Supplemental material might be audio or video used elsewhere and NOT part of the original online content, follow-up stories, editorials, etc., that were not part of the primary work, but that you would like to make available to the judges.
If your story was truly multimedia on different platforms the best place for your entry may be the Multiplatform category.
In categories that set limits on the number of elements allowed in an entry, do not submit more "primary" elements than allowed.

 

When will the judging be complete?
Judging will be completed by April 2014.

 

Who should I call if I have any other questions?
Please call the IRE Resource Center at 573-882-6668573-882-6668  or e-mail for assistance in submitting contest entries.