2019 IRE Awards FAQ

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):

  • Jennifer LaFleur, Investigative Reporting Workshop, American University – Chair
  • Jodie Fleischer, WRC-TV, NBC4-Washington
  • Carrie Levine, Center for Public Integrity
  • Ron Nixon, The Associated Press
  • Norberto Santana Jr., Voice of Orange County
  • Kameel Stanley, USA Today
  • Alison Young, University of Missouri

 

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?
No, board members may not enter the IRE Awards if they contributed in a significant way to the work entered. Such examples would include named reporters/producers or the front-line editors/executive producers.

Entries from the board member’s news organization are eligible if the board member did not play a significant editorial role. Ultimately, the contest committee will determine whether the role is acceptable or not.

Board members will be required to submit a letter to the judging committee detailing their work on any entered project or story.

 

How do I participate?
You must be a current member to enter the IRE Awards. If you are not a member, you must join before proceeding with your entry. Entries with no current members listed will be disqualified.

 

How do I check to see if I’m a current member?
Not sure if you’re current? Log into your IRE account, click on “My Profile” in the left-hand sidebar and make sure your membership status is “Current” and your expiration date is through February 2020.

 

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 must join before proceeding with your entry. Entries with no current members listed will be disqualified.

 

What if I’m an awards coordinator entering on behalf of someone?
No problem! We’ll just ask a few more questions of you, to make sure we have your contact information as well as the current IRE member’s information.

 

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). See “Size Specifications” below for prices. At least one person on the entering team must be a current member ($70 for one year).

  • Membership must be current through Feb. 1, 2020
  • Free for student members (Membership must be current through Feb. 1, 2020)
  • All fees are non-refundable

 

What work is eligible for the contest?
All work must have been published or aired between Jan. 1, 2019 thru Dec. 31, 2019.

 

What is the deadline for entering the contest?
The deadline to enter is January 12, 2020.

 

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 number of entries I can submit?
There is no limit to the number of entries you may submit.

 

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 or a translated script.

 

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.

  • Checklist to enter the Print/Online category:
    • I am a current IRE member (or entering on behalf of one) through February 2020.
    • I have answered the contest questionnaire and saved it as a PDF using the naming convention QUESTIONNAIRE_story/series_title.
    • I have no more than five primary stories/elements selected. (New for 2019! You are limited to five primary stories/elements in your entry. You may include other supplemental materials if needed. There is no limit to supplemental material.)
    • I put any links to my primary story/stories in a text document and included any login/password information for the judges, if needed. (EXAMPLE)
    • I have condensed any primary entry material documents into one file (limit 25 MB). (This pertains to me if I’m not including links to my stories online and would rather show how my story appeared in print. EXAMPLE)
    • ✅ I have saved my primary entry materials file using the naming convention PRIMARY_story/series_title.
    • I understand that if none of my files are named “PRIMARY” the judges will assume the first piece entered is the primary material.
    • I understand I can include a cover letter to the judges, but I am not required to do so.
    • ✅ I understand that I can provide other supplemental material (using the naming convention SUPPLEMENTAL_story/series_title)but am not required to do so.

 

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.

  • Checklist to enter the Broadcast/Video category:
    • I am a current IRE member (or entering on behalf of one) through February 2020.
    • I have answered the contest questionnaire and saved it as a PDF using the naming convention QUESTIONNAIRE_story/series_title.
    • I have no more than one hour (condensed) of primary stories/elements selected. (New for 2019! You are limited to one hour (condensed) of primary stories/elements in your entry. You may include other supplemental materials if needed. There is no limit to supplemental material.)
    • ✅ I have removed all commercials, including sponsors and house ads, from my video and understand that any ads left in will result in disqualification.
    • I have uploaded my condensed video of primary stories/elements to a third-party video hosting site (e.g. YouTube or Vimeo).
    • I put the link to my primary story/stories (hosted on a third-party video hosting site) in a text document and included any login/password information for the judges, if needed. (EXAMPLE)
    • ✅ I have saved my primary entry materials file using the naming convention PRIMARY_story/series_title.
    • ✅ I have saved the transcript of my primary entry materials as a PDF using the naming convention PRIMARY_TRANSCRIPT_story/series_title.
    • I understand that if none of my files are named “PRIMARY” the judges will assume the first piece entered is the primary material.
    • I understand I can include a cover letter to the judges, but I am not required to do so.
    • I will mail one hard copy of my video, post-marked by Jan. 12, for the IRE archive. DVD or flash drive accepted. I will include my organization’s name, the title of my entry, and the total run time in my mailed package.
        • To:
          IRE Awards
          c/o 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.

  • Checklist to enter the Radio/Audio category
      • I am a current IRE member (or entering on behalf of one) through February 2020.
      • I have answered the contest questionnaire and saved it as a PDF using the naming convention QUESTIONNAIRE_story/series_title.
      • I have no more than one hour (condensed) of primary stories/elements selected. (New for 2019! You are limited to one hour (condensed) of primary stories/elements in your entry. You may include other supplemental materials if needed. There is no limit to supplemental material.)
      • ✅ I have removed all commercials, including sponsors and house ads, from my audio and understand that any ads left in will result in disqualification.
      • I have uploaded my condensed audio of primary stories/elements to a third-party audio hosting site (e.g. SoundCloud)
      • I put the link to my primary story/stories (hosted on a third-party audio hosting site) in a text document and included any login/password information for the judges, if needed. (EXAMPLE)
      • ✅ I have saved my primary entry materials file using the naming convention PRIMARY_story/series_title.
      • ✅ I have saved the transcript of my primary entry materials as a PDF using the naming convention PRIMARY_TRANSCRIPT_story/series_title.
      • I understand that if none of my files are named “PRIMARY” the judges will assume the first piece entered is the primary material.
      • I understand I can include a cover letter to the judges, but I am not required to do so.
      • I will mail one hard copy of my audio, post-marked by Jan. 12, for the IRE archive. CD or flash drive accepted. I will include my organization’s name, the title of my entry, and the total run time in my mailed package.
          • To:
            IRE Awards
            c/o Lauren Grandestaff
            141 Neff Annex
            Missouri School of Journalism
            Columbia, MO 65211

Student (small, large): To eligible for this category, work must have been done by a student or group of students. Tom

 

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, email awards@ire.org.
  • 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. Please refer to platform-specific rules above for required entry material. The cost to enter is $75. (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. Please refer to platform-specific rules above for required entry material. The cost to enter is $75.
  • 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. Please refer to platform-specific rules above for required entry material. The cost to enter is $75 (Limit to 5 stories.)
  • IRE Award for Sports Investigations: This award honors investigations that dig into the darker side of sports from amateur leagues to professional organizations. Please refer to platform-specific rules above for required entry material. The cost to enter is $75

 

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 and radio 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 and radio 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 and radio 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 file/element you upload as either primary or supplemental.
  • For Print/Online (written word) entries:
    • One story in a series is considered one piece of primary material.
    • You are limited to five primary stories/elements.
    • For series or projects that contain more than five stories, the best five stories should be selected.
    • All primary elements should be condensed into one file.
    • All other stories should be marked as supplemental.
  • For Video and Audio entries:
    • The first hour of your video or audio file will be considered your primary material.
    • For a series or project that contain multiple pieces, the best hour should be compiled.
    • All primary elements should be condensed into one file.
    • A transcript of your primary stories should also be included as “primary.”
    • All other stories should be marked as supplemental.
  • Supplemental material might be audio or video used elsewhere and NOT part of the original content, follow-up stories, editorials, etc., or elements that fall outside of the category limit (five stories for print/online and one hour for audio and video).
  • The supplemental elements must use the naming convention SUPPLEMENTAL_story/series_title.
  • The primary element must use the naming convention PRIMARY_story/series_title. If none of your files are named “PRIMARY” the judges will assume the first piece entered is the primary material.

 

When will the judging be complete?
Judging will be completed by April 2020.

 

Who should I call if I have any other questions?
Please email awards@ire.org.