WHAT ARE THE REGIONAL CONTESTS?

VISUAL CATEGORIES

Sixteen categories allow students to work on creating photographs, videos, multimedia, illustrations and designs in advance of the February submission deadline. Using a prompt provided below by KSPA, the students create their journalism and then submit it online. Comments from judges are returned to advisers via email after the contest results are final.

WRITING CONTESTS

Nine additional contests of writing include categories like feature writing, copyediting and cutline writing. Using notes or prompts provided by KSPA in February, students have a couple of days to craft stories, editorials and cutlines that are judged by local professionals. Students receive feedback through rubrics and notes on their writing.

KEY CHANGES TO THIS YEAR'S CONTEST

NO IN-PERSON CONTESTS FOR 2021 REGIONALS

In August, the KSPA board voted to move all Regional Contest categories to online competition for 2021. The decision was made to ensure student and teacher safety, in addition to the logistical concern that universities would not be hosting outside groups like KSPA for events.

“WILD CARD” ENTRIES

Many schools have asked for more opportunities for their students to compete in a particular category. Previously, each school could submit two entries per category. This year, we are piloting “Wild Card” entries. Each school would get three “wild cards,” allow the school to register an additional student or team into a contest category for the Regional contest.

Even with “Wild Card” entries available, schools are limited to three total entries in any one category. For the State Contest, “Wild Card” entries would advance to State. For the State Contest, there will be no additional “Wild Card” entries available. All entries must qualify through the Regional Contest.

NEW CATEGORIES

After consulting with the KSPA Contest Committee, we have added a handful of new categories in addition to offering some categories for the Regional Contest that were previously only offered for the State Contest. Here is a rundown of the new categories:

VISUAL CATEGORIES

Social Media (previously offered only in the State Contest)

Multimedia Storytelling (previously offered only in the State Contest)

Video News

Video PSA

Video Sports Promo

WRITING CATEGORIES

Review Writing (previously offered only in the State Contest)

You can find descriptions for all of these contests below, including the prompts for the Visual Categories

A SPONSORED CATEGORY WITH PRIZE MONEY

We are proud to introduce that KANSAS! magazine is sponsoring a category in the Regional Contest for 2021. This means two exciting things for students. First, the chance to be published in KANSAS! magazine. And second, a chance to win a share of $250 in prize money, including $100 for Best in Show. Find more details in our prompt here. (This category is replacing Academics Photography for Regionals 2021 due to anticipated difficulties with photographing on school campuses due to the pandemic.)

TWO MAIN DIVISIONS OF COMPETITION

The contest categories are now divided into two main divisions:

1. THE VISUAL CATEGORIES: These categories include photography, design, video and illustration entries. Previously, most of these categories were called “digital submission” categories. One notable move here is that Editorial Cartooning has moved to this group of categories. Students competing in these contests can begin work on these entries starting Dec. 1 and submitting by 11 p.m. on Feb. 21.

2. THE WRITING CATEGORIES: These categories include writing and copyediting categories that previously were proctored during the on-site competition. Similar to the way that the 2020 State Contest, these entries will be submitted online. Students will have from 3 p.m. on Feb. 19 until 11 p.m. on Feb. 21 to complete work on these entries.

WORD COUNT INCREASES

Many advisers have requested that KSPA increase the word count for the Writing Categories. So, we have increased the allowable number of word in an entry — in some cases by doubling the allowable number of words.

For all writing categories except Feature Writing, we are now allowing 400 words per entry. For the Feature Writing category, we are now allowing 500 words. We hope this gives students a more authentic writing experience and provides our judges with a solid sample of each student’s writing.

DEADLINES

  • Release of Visual category prompts: Dec. 3, 2020.
  • Deadline for contest registration: Jan. 17, 2021.
  • Submissions of Visual category entries begin: Feb. 1, 2021.
  • Release of Writing category prompts: 3 p.m. on Feb. 19, 2021
  • Deadline for submission of all Visual & Writing entries: 11 p.m. on Feb. 21
  • Results of Regional Contest posted: March 5 or earlier

WRITING CATEGORIES

(previously “On-Site Contests”)

Contest W1

Copyediting

contest description

To Do:

  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • 3 p.m. Feb. 19: contest materials available
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: contest submission due

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest W2

Sports Writing

contest description

To Do:

  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • 3 p.m. Feb. 19: contest materials available
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: contest submission due

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest W3

YB Copy Writing

contest description

To Do:

  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • 3 p.m. Feb. 19: contest materials available
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: contest submission due

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest W4

Feature Writing

contest description

To Do:

  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • 3 p.m. Feb. 19: contest materials available
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: contest submission due

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest W5

News Writing

contest description

To Do:

  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • 3 p.m. Feb. 19: contest materials available
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: contest submission due

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest W6

Cutline Writing

contest description

To Do:

  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • 3 p.m. Feb. 19: contest materials available
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: contest submission due

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest W7

Editorial Writing

contest description

To Do:

  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • 3 p.m. Feb. 19: contest materials available
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: contest submission due

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest W8

YB Sport Writing

contest description

To Do:

  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • 3 p.m. Feb. 19: contest materials available
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: contest submission due

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest W9

Review Writing

contest description

To Do:

  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • 3 p.m. Feb. 19: contest materials available
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: contest submission due

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

VISUAL CATEGORIES

(previously “Digital Submission Contests”)

Contest V01

A Winter in the Heartland

prompt available now

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest V02

Advertising Design

prompt available now

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest V03

Digital Illustration

prompt available now

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest V04

Editorial Cartoon

Prompt available now

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest V05

Headline Writing & Design

prompt now available

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest V06

Infographic Design

prompt now available

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest V07

Multimedia Storytelling

prompt now available

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest or in a group of up to four
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest V08

News Page Design

prompt now available

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest V09

Social Media

prompt now available

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest, as a group of up to four, or as an entire staff
  • each school can register one entry in this category

Contest V10

Sports Photography

prompt now available

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest V11

Student Life Photography

prompt now available

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest V12

Video News

prompt now available

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest or in a group of up to four
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest V13

Video PSA

prompt now available

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest or in a group of up to four
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest V14

Video Sports Promo

prompt now available

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest or in a group of up to four
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest V15

Yearbook Design

prompt now available

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

Contest V16

Yearbook Theme & Graphics

prompt now available

To Do:

  • Dec. 3: review the prompts and start your work
  • 11 p.m. Jan. 17: register for contest
  • Feb. 1: first day to submit your entry
  • 11 p.m. Feb. 21: deadline for entry submission

Who:

  • students compete individually in this contest or in a group of two
  • each school can register two entries (or three, if they use one of the school’s “Wild Card” entries)

COMMON CONTEST QUESTIONS

Number of awards

Following our change for the State Contest in May 2020, KSPA will urge judges in all contests and classifications to award 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place. We will no longer award Honorable Mentions at Regionals or State.

However, some judges will decide to award fewer than six places. In the past, some judges have cited these reasons for not awarding three honorable mentions:

  • a small number of entries in a specific category
  • entries that did not follow instructions
  • lack of quality from entries

This circumstance — with fewer than six award winners — is more common in Regional Contests than the State Contest. Advisers should be aware that it is possible and that we will follow up with judges to request they submit six award winners unless one of bullet points above applies to the category they are judging.

Payment concerns because of the pandemic

KSPA understands that the pandemic means that finances and contest payments will be unpredictable. During these extraordinary times, KSPA is dedicated to encouraging journalists through the Regional and State Contests. Schools will receive their awards and feedback even if payment is pending. We simply ask that you request payment when you and your school district are able.

Authentic Captions

Regarding all photography and multimedia contests: when writing captions for the images or completing the multimedia coverage, there is no need to change the name of the school or the people in the photo to make the entry anonymous. Jerseys, t-shirts and signs in the photos often make it obvious to the judge what school is entering the contest. Students: please write the coverage and caption as you would for your publication. Also, students and advisers should know that captions are part of the judging criteria.

Regional Contest contact information

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Questions about registration, payment or substitutions?

The University of Kansas and KSPA’s office in Stauffer-Flint Hall are operating with modified and unpredictable hours due to the pandemic. Our staff is working remotely, except for occasional visits to campus. However, please continue mailing any checks to our mailing address below:

  • KSPA, 1435 Jayhawk Boulevard, Lawrence KS 66045

And you can reach executive director Eric Thomas and administrative assistant Kerry Navinskey by phone at (785) 864-0605 or via email at [email protected].

How are regional groupings created?

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For the 2019 Regional Contest, KSPA researched how to improve our the Regional contests for you. That year, we introduced a way to make the Regional Contests both more fair and more convenient. And it was a huge success! We know the changes encouraged long-time members to keep competing. And of course, we loved seeing new schools join the fun.

     The KSPA staff will create Regionals with a more balanced number of schools in each Regional Grouping. Rather than guessing at how many schools will attend a regional, KSPA will make regional groupings after we know how many schools are competing.

     Advisers simply complete registration by Jan. 17. Using those registrations, KSPA will create regional groupings based on the number of schools that register. For about every seven schools, KSPA will create a regional. So, in 2019, 43 schools competed in 5A/6A Regionals. That created 6 regionals.

     We will be sure to publish regional groupings soon after that initial registration deadline. Plus, our digital submission system will automatically slot entries from your school into the correct regional grouping.

     Nearby schools will likely be in the same regional. However, we will avoid — as much as possible — clustering high schools from the same school district into the same regional. For instance, schools in the AnyTown School District might be distributed into a few different regional groupings, even though they are geographically close to one another.

Getting organized

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This sheet is not a required step in the registration process, but should help advisers in gathering — whether on paper or digitally — the information needed to organize for the KSPA Regional contests. Advisers do not need to communicate the names and email addresses of their students upon registration. Students will provide their names upon submission of their entry. Gathering email addresses will be helpful if advisers want to add students as authorized entrants to the digital submission contest system at BetterBNC.com.

Writing Categories

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Nine Writing Categories, most of them previously called “on-site” contests, will be offered. Prompts will be published at 3 p.m. on Feb. 19 and remain available for submission until 11 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21. Submission of entries will occur through an online form that will open Feb. 19 at 3 p.m.

  • Category W1: Copyediting
  • Category W2: Sports Writing
  • Category W3: Yearbook Copy
  • Category W4: Feature Writing
  • Category W5: News Writing
  • Category W6: Cutline Writing
  • Category W7: Editorial Writing
  • Category W8: Yearbook Sports Writing
  • Category W9:  Review Writing

Visual Categories

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Sixteen Visual Categories, previously called “digital submission” contests, will be offered. The prompts for all Visual Categories were published Dec. 3. All entries are due — through submission to the BNC contest system — by 11 p.m. Feb. 21.

  • Category V01: A Winter Wonderland, sponsored by KANSAS! magazine (previously, Academics Photography)
  • Category V02: Advertising Design
  • Category V03: Digital Illustration (previously, Photo Illustration)
  • Category V04: Editorial Cartoon (previously, an “on-site” category)
  • Category V05: Headline Writing & Design
  • Category V06: Infographic Design
  • Category V07: Multimedia Storytelling (previously, a “state-only” category)
  • Category V08: News Page Design
  • Category V09: Social Media (can be a team of up to four, or an entire staff)
  • Category V10: Sports Photography
  • Category V11: Student Life Photography
  • Category V12: Video News (can be a team of up to four)
  • Category V13: Video PSA (can be a team of up to four)
  • Category V14: Video Sports Promo (can be a team of up to four)
  • Category V15: Yearbook Design (previously, “Yearbook Layout”)
  • Category V16: Yearbook Theme & Graphics (can be team of up to two)

Entries to Visual Categories are submitted using BetterBNC Media Awards Platform. The system will allow for secure submissions, quick judging and high-quality feedback. This document provides in-depth instructions, including video tutorials.

Judging Rubrics

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During a normal State Contest, judges use paper copies of rubrics to provide feedback to students about their writing, cartooning and editing. That will not be possible this year. However, you can reference the rubrics to see the qualities that judges usually seek. Here are rubrics and some comments that judges often make. (Please note that some rubrics are still being developed for newly added categories.)

Entry limit

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A particular student may only participate in five total categories, whether individually or as a team.

Fees & Costs

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The fee for each entry is $12.

KSPA understands that statewide school closures mean that finances and contest payments will be unpredictable. During these extraordinary times, KSPA is dedicated to encouraging journalists through contests. Schools will receive their awards and feedback even if payment is pending. We simply ask that you request payment when you and your school district are able.

  • Payment may be made online by credit card at the time of registration.
  • For payment by check, please make checks payable to “KSPA” and send the check to KSPA, 1435 Jayhawk Blvd., Room 318, Lawrence, KS 66045.

Writing Categories: Rules & Tips

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  • Cutline Writing: Students will write cutlines for five photos provided. Students may use dictionary, thesaurus and AP Stylebooks. .
  • Copyediting Contest: Students will complete two different tasks in this contest (a previous example can be found here). First, students will respond to 25 different multiple choice questions with possible errors in AP style, accuracy, libel, attribution, grammar, spelling and redundancy. Students will respond with the best answer, which could be “no change” to the existing sentence. Students will also read a sample story. In response to the sample story, the student will provide feedback, coaching, notes of caution and encouragement to the writer. Students may use dictionary, thesaurus and AP style manuals.
  • Other Writing Contests: (Yearbook copy, yearbook sports, feature, news, sports and editorial writing contests). Students will write a story based on information provided on a fact sheet. Students may write in pen or pencil. Paper will be provided. Students may use dictionary, thesaurus and AP Stylebooks.

Past Regional & State Prompts

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Want a preview of what the Writing Category prompts will be like? Want a classroom activity for your students? Need an emergency lesson plan?

KSPA has a page of prompts from previous state and regional contests for you. We will continue to add to the collection as we search through our archives. ONE IMPORTANT NOTE: please notice that some of the rules and formats for the contests have changed (most notably for the Copyediting On-Site Contest). Be sure to read all directions for this year’s contest for guidance.

Simply Better

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Check out our “Simply Better” pages, a showcase of the award-winning entries from previous Regional and State competitions. These examples can be used as classroom examples for students who will compete in State.

Thanks

The KSPA staff and board look forward to gathering together like “normal” in upcoming years. And we commend the students and advisers participating in the contest for their energy and strength during the pandemic.

Sincerely,

Thomas Sig

 

 

 

 

Eric Thomas

KSPA Executive Director