Contest Rules

2016 YJI Journalism Contest Trophies


To spotlight some of the exceptional journalism done by students across the globe, Youth Journalism International sponsors an annual contest. Our hope is that by calling attention to the best work in English by student reporters, cartoonists and photographers, we can further our mission of promoting a free youth press. It is yet another way to showcase the voices of the next generation. This year’s student journalism contest will recognize outstanding work published between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017.

DEADLINE:  Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at 11:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Entries must be listed on our online form before the deadline. If you have a technical issue or special problem, let us know as quickly as you can.

IMPORTANT: We require that all entries be accessible online. You will need to include a public link to every entry you submit. We are not accepting emailed or paper copies of any entries. If the work was not published online, it can still be entered. Make a pdf of the printed work and upload it to a folder on Google Drive. A photo of the article might also work, but judges must be able to read it. Share the link to that folder on the entry form. It is easy to share a document that way and it ensures access to entries for our judges. Please make it accessible to anyone who has a link. For a few categories — especially the Journalism Educator of the Year and Student Journalist of the Year — you can submit multiple items by putting them in an online folder and then sharing the entire folder with our judges (just provide the link to the folder rather than individual items).

If you’ve already read the rules and just need to fill in the form, follow this link.

Any journalist age 19 or under in any country who was not working professionally at the time the entry was published can enter. Although entries must have been published online or in print, it is not required for them to have appeared in a school publication. Underground papers, blogs, online papers and other venues for journalism are all acceptable. So, too, are audio and video entries. Judges have the right to move an entry from one category to a more appropriate category and the right not to make an award in any particular category.


Highest Honors:

In each category, nominations may come from teachers, students or other third parties. Previous first place winners are not eligible to enter the category again, but previous finalists may enter. Self-nominations are acceptable, though letters of support are especially encouraged in the Student Journalist of the Year, Courage in Journalism and Journalism Educator of the Year categories. First place winners in each category will receive a beautiful crystal trophy. Judges may also name finalists.


To honor the student journalist who shows exceptional work in one or more areas of journalism – news, feature and opinion writing, photography and art. JOURNALISM EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR To honor a teacher who inspires students and brings out the very best in them.


To honor an individual youth journalist, journalism educator or a student newspaper that showed particular courage in pursuing a story despite danger, official roadblocks or other unusual obstacles.


To honor an individual who gave voice to an important issue in a single opinion piece or a series of opinion pieces devoted to the same topic.


To honor an individual who shows tenacity in tackling one or more serious news stories.

High Honors:

NEWS – Individual reporting NEWS – Team reporting (multiple byline)

ENTERPRISE – (individual or multiple byline)

PROFILE — Individual

FEATURES – Individual

FEATURES — Team (multiple byline)

EDITORIAL (unsigned; award goes to publication)

OPINION (bylined by one or more writers)

COLUMN WRITING (individual)

FIRST PERSON ESSAY (individual byline)


REVIEWS (Individual or double byline. Entry should note the sub-category below)


Theater/ Film

General Reviews (Video games, restaurants, anything reviewed that isn’t music, theater or film)

SPORTS (Entry should note the sub-category below)

Sports Feature (individual or multiple byline)

Sports News (individual or multiple byline)

Sports Opinion

PHOTOGRAPHY (Entry should note the sub-category below)

News Photo

Sports Photo

Feature Photo

Photo Illustration

MULTIMEDIA (audio or video news – provide links or MP3s) (Entry should note the sub-category below)

Multimedia news

Multimedia features

Multimedia sports

TECH JOURNALISM [Please note this is a new category for the 2017 contest.]

How to enter

Entries must be submitted online. Fees will be accepted electronically and via postal delivery.

FEES (amounts are in U.S. dollars:) Entry fees for the contest are $25 each for Student Journalist of the Year and Journalism Educator of the Year. The fee is $20 for the Courage in Journalism Award, Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary and the Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News (see details below). In other categories, fees are $10 for each team entry and $5 for each individual entry. There is no limit to the number of entries one person or publication can submit.

The work has to have been published, in print or online, between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. We have tried to keep entry fees low to make the contest accessible, but we understand that even nominal fees may pose a hardship to some. We do not want fees to be a barrier, so if they are a hardship, please enter anyway and include an explanation of your circumstances. YJI can waive your fee and keep your financial information confidential. Fee waivers are intended for individuals, not schools, institutions or organizations. Only in rare circumstances will YJI waive the fee for entries other than those submitted by individuals. We know of no other contest that offers the potential to waive fees. We feel strongly that it should be an option. But it’s intended for those with real hardships so if you can pay the entry fees, please do.  In addition, those asking for waivers are limited to two entries. If you wish to make an additional contribution to help defray the entry fees for those who cannot pay, your donation will be gratefully accepted. Donations to YJI are tax-deductible in the United States.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us and ask. We are glad to help. And your questions may help us clarify the rules and procedures for lots of other people, too.

Fill in one online entry form for each submission at [Here is the link to the entry form directly.]

Pay fees online or send a check made out to: Youth Journalism International, 30 Taylor St., Auburn, ME 04210, USA

Schools or individuals making multiple entries may make a single payment and attach a single receipt to one entry, but please make note of how the fee was paid in each of the other entries to avoid confusion or disqualification. It will also help us if you note in the comments on PayPal what school or student(s) your payment is for.

More information on Journalism Educator of the Year: Please send an essay about why the teacher or adviser is the best in the world (300 to 800 words is best). It should be heartfelt. Think of it as writing a letter to us about the educator, so an informal tone is fine. Since your goal should be to persuade us, it is best to provide specific examples. Supporting materials, such as a copy of a newspaper, articles written about the educator or photos, are also fine and helpful. Multiple letters are encouraged, but each letter must be signed. We will give the most weight to what students have to say, but are more than willing to look at any other items that bolster the case.

More information on Student Journalist of the Year: Please send a half dozen or so clips that show the student’s work. A letter explaining the impact of the work or the circumstances surrounding a student’s journalism is encouraged. Tell us why this student journalist is the world’s best. Other supporting material is also welcome. Don’t hesitate to enter this category – someone has to win it, and it could be you.

More information on the Courage in Journalism Award: This award is intended to honor an individual youth journalist, journalism educator, youth publication or group reporting the news by, about or important to young people that has shown extraordinary courage in reporting a story. It doesn’t mean someone had to brave bullets in a war zone, though it could, but to showcase courage of all types. Standing up to a principal, a school board or some other authority may fit the bill. Tell us what makes the nominee deserving. This award is generally not aimed at professionals working in the field of journalism, though it may be given under the right circumstances.

More information on the Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News: This award honors an individual who showed the nose for news exemplified by longtime newsman Frank Keegan, whose love of journalism and determination that it has a future helped give birth to Youth Journalism International. Submit one or more news stories that show a commitment to news. Supporting material is not expected, but if included, it will be considered. Don’t be reluctant to try to win this one. Over the years, we have seen many great news stories entered in the contest from students who did not try to win this trophy. They might have had they tried.

More information on the Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary: Jacinta Bunnell, who was severely disabled, died in 2009 at the age of 26 in Connecticut. Among her legacies is a commitment by those whose lives she touched to focus on that most crucial question: “What do you think?” It is a fitting tribute to this extraordinary young woman to honor one of the many young people who have tried to answer that question during the past year. Submit one or more opinion or first person pieces on the same topic. Supporting material is not expected, but if included, it will be considered.

Questions or concerns? Send them to and we’ll do our best to answer them. To fill in the form, follow this link.

Use the Donor Box form below to pay for your entries. Just donate the amount necessary to cover the cost of your contest entries. If you want to make an additional tax-deductible donation to Youth Journalism International, a 501(c)(3) public educational charity, that would be greatly appreciated. It would be easiest to make it as a separate payment, however, so there is no confusion. Please use the comment field to note what school or student(s) the payment is for. Thank you!