Changes coming for 2024 Better Newspaper Contest

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From Missouri Press Staff
Missouri Press News

The Missouri Press Foundation Better Newspaper Contest is scheduled to open Jan. 29, bringing with it several changes and revisions to category descriptions and rules.

First, the Better Newspaper Contest (BNC) will use the new template that newspapers should already be familiar with from uploading entries for the Missouri Press Advertising Managers and Executives (MPAME) Best Ad Contest.

The change to a new template was made to keep costs down for administering the contest, which keeps the cost of entering the contest lower for Missouri Press members. The Foundation’s BNC will now use the Advanced Contest Entry System, which is operated by Illinois Press Association.

Since the new template has to be built from the ground up with Missouri Press’ information, the switch was also the perfect time to make changes to the contest’s category order and descriptions, explained Missouri Press Editor Matthew Barba.

Following discussion by members of the Missouri Press Contest Committee, the resulting changes have been made:

Dailies divisions have been reduced to 2, with the circulation cut-off being 0-7,000 and 7,001 and over.

This change was necessary as there are fewer potential contestants and a greater need to create a healthy level of competition for all publications participating in the contest.

The former special section and magazine or alternative publication categories were combined.

Missouri Press wants to continue to support newspapers that publish a separate magazine, however, maintaining it as a separate category was not generating enough entries to create actual competition, Barba said. This is something that a future Contest Committee can revisit if contestants begin submitting entries for magazines or their other alternative publications.

Similarly, the former video and multi-media reporting categories were combined.

Each of the former categories saw a few entries, Barba said, but neither had enough to really foster competition. The category now also allows newspapers more entries for multi-media reporting.

Revised category descriptions to include reporting beyond just stories

The categories for business, government, health, etc. were very limited in what could be entered, Barba said, but each year Missouri’s newspapers are producing more innovative content and broadening established journalism methods to better inform readers.

By allowing for other content types, for example, a column about the outdoors, newspapers can expand what they think of as “contest worthy” and be awarded for their best work, no matter what form it takes, Barba said.

Added a new category for reporting on underrepresented and marginalized communities.

This suggestion made sense as an addition, Barba said, because underrepresented and marginalized communities can differ between regions within the state. For example, a newspaper in southwest Missouri might report on migrant farm workers, while a publication in the St. Louis region could cover displaced Ukrainian immigrants seeking refuge from ongoing fighting in their home country.

Barba said he looks forward to seeing the stories, photos and other reporting that will make up this year’s Better Newspaper Contest, which typically receives about 2,500 entries each year.

For more information about entering the contest, including how to use ACES, please contact Matthew Barba at mbarba@mopress.com or Member Services Director Kristie Fortier at kfortier@mopress.com. The Missouri Press Foundation’s 2024 Better Newspaper Contest rules can be found here: 2024 Better Newspaper Contest rules.

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