Philip Meyer Journalism Award FAQ

What is the Philip Meyer Journalism Award?

  • The Philip Meyer Journalism Award will recognize excellent journalism done using social science research methods.


How do I participate?

  • You’ll need:
    • A completed questionnaire (updated for 2020 contest)
    • A PDF of  the story(ies) you’re entering (example)
    • At least one person on your team to be a current IRE member
  • The deadline to enter is November 15, 2020, 11:59 pm Eastern Time


Who is Philip Meyer?
Meyer is the author of Precision Journalism, the seminal 1973 book (and subsequent editions) that focused growing numbers of journalists on the idea of using social science methods to do better journalism. He pioneered in using survey research as a reporter for Knight Ridder newspapers to explore the causes of race riots in the 1960s, and holds the Knight Chair in Journalism at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.


What is meant by “social science research methods”?
These are the research tools used by social scientists across a wide variety of disciplines such as sociology, demographics, geography, political science, ethnography, communication, etc. Such tools might include quantitative and qualitative methods such as surveys using randomly-selected respondents, descriptive and inferential statistical analysis, social network analysis, content analysis, field experiments and more.


Is this “computer-assisted reporting”?
Computers often are used for this kind of work, but that is not a requirement. And CAR often is used for journalism, particularly investigative stories, that don’t necessarily use social science methods. Examples of the latter might include using a computer to sort, filter or categorize government records to produce lists or tables for a story.


How is this award different from the IRE Awards?
One of the defining characteristics of good investigative reporting eligible for an IRE Award is that it uncovers information that others have tried to keep hidden. The Meyer Award is designed to recognize work that explores significant societal problems that haven’t necessarily occurred because of attempts to keep the problems hidden.


Could a Meyer Award entry also be an IRE Award entry?


Who is eligible for the contest?
The Philip Meyer Journalism Award adheres to the principles of the IRE Award program in avoiding conflicts of interest.  It’s important to note that the IRE Awards program and the Philip Meyer Journalism Awards program are unique in its efforts to avoid conflicts of interest. Work that included any significant role by a Philip Meyer 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.


Who will judge the contest?
The judges will consist of journalism educators who have significant professional experience doing journalism using social science research methods, and social scientists who have significant experience working with journalists and appreciate the differences between journalism and academic research.


How much does it cost to enter?

One person on your team must be a current IRE member:

  • $75 (Professional)
  • Free (Student)
  • Membership must be valid through December 2020

What work is eligible for the contest?
All work must have been published, aired or posted between Oct. 1, 2019, and Sept 30, 2020.


What is the deadline for entering the contest?
Nov. 15, 2020, 11:59pm Eastern Time


What actions would result in a disqualification?
Judges may disqualify any entry with an incomplete questionnaire. Work that included a significant role by an 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 or entering with an expired membership. Refunds are not issued to disqualified entries.


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 (in a series) you may submit per entry.


Do you accept entries in languages other than English?

We accept entries in all languages, but require English translation for each entry.


What are the different types of awards?
Three Meyer Awards will be given, acknowledging 1st, 2nd and 3rd place from the pool of entries received. The awards include cash prizes: $500 for first, $300 for second, and $200 for third.


How many categories are there and what are they?
Unlike the IRE Awards, this award is not broken down into different media categories.


When will the judging be complete?
Judging will be completed by the end of January 2021.


Why is IRE sponsoring this award?
IRE is the home of the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR), a joint program of IRE and the Missouri School of Journalism. It is a joint program with the Knight Chair at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.


Who should I call if I have any other questions?

Please call Lauren at 573-882-6668 or e-mail for assistance in submitting contest entries.