2018 IRE Awards FAQ

The 2018 IRE Awards contest is now open!

Watch a short video on how to enter the IRE Awards

Things you will need/need to know before entering:

 

Information about the awards and judging

Eligibility

Getting started

Category specific information

Size specifications

Misc.

 


 

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.

 

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

  • Jill Riepenhoff, Raycom Media – Chair
  • Nancy Amons, WSMV
  • Matt Apuzzo, The New York Times
  • Kathy Kiely, University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Jonah Newman, Chicago Reporter
  • Jim Polk, formerly of CNN
  • Norberto Santana Jr., Voice of OC
  • Kameel Stanley, St. Louis Public Radio

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. 

 

How do I participate?
You must be a current member to enter the IRE Awards. If you are not a member, you can join online. Once you are registered, you will be able to access the contest system. 

 

What if no one on my team is a member?
At least one contributor to the entry must be a member. If you are not a member, you can join online. Once you are registered and logged in on our website you will be able to access the contest system.

 

What if I’m an awards coordinator entering on behalf of someone?
You’ll still need a username and password. Create a login (do not select a membership or subscription type) and then enter the contest system.

 

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, browse past award winners and finalists.

 

How much does it cost to enter?
Entry fees vary depending on the size of your organization and the category you’re entering (between $100 and $40). At least one person on the entering team must be a current member.
(Membership must be current through Feb. 1, 2019)
Free for student members (Membership must be current through Feb. 1, 2019)
All fees are non-refundable.

 

What work is eligible for the contest?
All work must have been published or aired between Jan. 1, 2018 thru Dec. 31, 2018.

 

What is the deadline for entering the contest?
The deadline to enter is January 11, 2019.

 

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, such as including ads in video or audio, will be subject to disqualification.

 

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 “Print/Online” and “FOIA”), that constitutes two 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 given?
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.

 

What are the different categories and what do I need to include in my entry? 

 

Print/Online (written word) – Divisions I, II, III, IV: 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.

  • Entering the Print/Online category:
    -Upload your story as a PDF and/or include links to your story online.
    -You can include cover letters and letters to the judges but it is not required to do so.
    -There is a 15 MB file size limit for each file.

 

Broadcast/Video – Divisions I, II, III, IV: To be eligible for the category, your story must be primarily presented in video. Any text or audio elements will be considered supplementary material.

  • Entering the Broadcast/Video category:
    -Upload your script and include any URLs you’d like the judges to view on step 6 of the online entry
    -ALL COMMERCIALS MUST BE REMOVED FROM VIDEO. Leaving commercials in could lead to disqualification.
    -Include links to your videos online, hostd by a 3rd party site or through your org’s site
    -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 for each file. There is no time limit for video entries.
    -Mail one hard copy of your video for the IRE archive. DVD or flash drive accepted. Please write your organization’s name, the title of your entry, and the total run time on the hard copy.
  • Send to:
    IRE Awards
    co Lauren Grandestaff
    141 Neff Annex
    Missouri School of Journalism
    Columbia, MO 65211

Radio/Audio (small, large): 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.

  • Entering the Radio/Audio category
    -Upload your script and include any URLs you’d like the judges to view on step 6 of the online entry.
    -ALL COMMERCIALS MUST BE REMOVED FROM VIDEO. Leaving commercials in could lead to disqualification.
    -Include links to your story(ies) online, hostd by a 3rd party site or through your org’s site.
    -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 for each file. There is no time limit for audio entries.
    -Mail a hard copy of your audio. Please write your organization’s name, the title of your entry, and the total run time on the CD.
  • Send hard copies to:
    IRE Awards
    co Lauren Grandestaff
    141 Neff Annex
    Missouri School of Journalism
    Columbia, MO 65211

 

Student: To eligible for this category, work must have been done by a student or group of students. Please refer to platform specific rules above for required entry material.

 

Books: For outstanding investigative reporting that resulted in a published book. The cost to enter is $75.

  • Entering the Book category
    -4 hard copies of your book must accompany your online entry. For eBooks, please call Lauren at 573-882-6668
  • Please send hard copies to:
    IRE Awards
    co Lauren Grandestaff
    141 Neff Annex
    Missouri School of Journalism
    Columbia, MO 65211

Special Categories: Any medium, any size circulation or market. The cost to enter any of the special categories is $75.

  •  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.)
  • *NEW TO 2018* IRE Award for Sports Investigations: This award honors investigations that dig into the darker side of sports from amateur leagues to professional organizations.
  • Gannett Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism: This category honors excellent investigative journalism that was significantly advanced by the journalist’s creative approach to getting the story, or telling the story – or both. Examples of innovation could be smart approaches to reporting, including but not limited to the use of new digital or interactive tools. The winner will receive a $5,000 prize from Gannett.

 

Size Specifications

In order to better reflect our ever-changing industry, the print/online and broadcast/video categories are now divided into four size divisions.

Print/Online and Broadcast/Video categories

  • Division I includes: Newspapers with +400k circulation (largest single day, including digital replica); 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. The cost to enter is $100.
  • Division II includes: Newspapers with 151,000-399,999 circulation (largest single day, including digital replica); top 20 television markets (according to Nielsen ratings); magazines, weeklies and online-only media with a regional audience. For partnerships or collaborations, please enter by largest organization involved. The cost to enter is $80.
  • Division III includes: Newspapers with 75,000-150,999 circulation (largest single day, including digital replica); 21-50 television markets (according to Nielsen ratings); magazines, weeklies and online-only media with a state-wide audience. For partnerships or collaborations, please enter by largest organization involved. The cost to enter is $60.
  • Division IV includes: Newspapers with less than 74,999 circulation (largest single day, including digital replica); below 50 television markets (according to Nielsen ratings); magazines, weeklies, and online-only organizations with a city, county or metropolitan area focus. For partnerships or collaborations, please enter by largest organization involved. The cost to enter is $40.

*For online-only news organizations, magazines and weeklies, size is determined by primary coverage area. 

 

Radio/Audio

  • Large includes: top 20 radio market size (according to Nielsen ratings); Broadcast: Network or syndicated TV and Top 20 markets; Print: +151k circulation (largest single day, including digital replica) and wire services; and magazines, weeklies and online-only media with a primary focus on a regional or national level. The cost to enter is $100.
  • Small includes: below top 20 radio market size (according to Nielsen ratings); Broadcast: Below Top 20 markets; Print: <150,999 circulation (largest single day, including digital replica); and magazines, weeklies and online-only media with a primary focus on a state, city, metro area or county. The cost to enter is $60.

 

Student Work

  • Large includes: Honoring work done by teams of students with four or more participants.
    Any reporter with a byline or the creator of any standalone element (other than photos or static graphics) is included. The entire project must have been produced by enrolled students (full or part-time, undergraduate or graduate), with guidance from professors or any other faculty. The entry cannot include any contributions (editing, writing, etc.) from any professional news organization. The entry may have appeared in a professional publication, if all of the work was done by the students and no additional work was contributed by the professional outlet. There is no fee to enter.
  • Small includes: Honoring work done by individuals or teams of no more than three students.
    Any reporter with a byline or the creator of any standalone element (other than photos or static graphics) is included. The entire project must have been produced by enrolled students (full or part-time, undergraduate or graduate), with guidance from professors or any other faculty. The entry cannot include any contributions (editing, writing, etc.) from any professional news organization. The entry may have appeared in a professional publication, if all of the work was done by the student(s) and no additional work was contributed by the professional outlet. There is no fee to enter.

 

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.
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 2019.

 

Who should I call if I have any other questions?
Please call Lauren Grandestaff, contest coordinator, at 573-882-6668 or email [email protected]