The number of entries in the Alternative Newsweekly Awards contest jumped by 17 percent this year, the first year that the contest is being conducted online. A total of 1,325 entries were submitted in 19 writing and design categories. Last year, 1,132 entries were submitted in 18 categories, including cartoons.
Two factors besides the introduction of an online submission process account for much of the increase. The number of Arts Features entries more than doubled in 2005, in response to a decision by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ Editorial Committee to allow three entries per newsweekly in that category instead of just one. There were 76 Arts Features entries last year; this year there are 163. The committee also introduced a new category this year, Special Section, which drew 40 entries.
The three most popular categories this year are Feature Story, with 202 entries, News Story–Long Form, with 171, and Arts Feature, as mentioned above, with 163.
After Arts Feature, the category that saw the greatest increase was Investigative Reporting. The number of entries jumped 51.5 percent, from 33 in 2004 to 50 this year.
The number of entries declined in all of the design categories except Illustration. Photography entries saw the sharpest drop, from 44 entries in 2004 to 35 this year.
Ninety-seven papers, or 78 percent of all AAN papers, entered the contest.
For the first time this year, newspapers and cartoonists could enter the contest online, using a Web site designed by Omni Solutions Group, and entrants could upload PDF files of stories rather than make photocopies and mail them in to the AAN office. However, entries in the four design categories and Special Section category had to be submitted as hard copies.
Most members took advantage of the opportunity to upload entries. In the 14 categories where online submissions were allowed, two thirds of entries were submitted electronically. Members will be surveyed on their experiences with the contest site later this month.
Entries are now in the hands of 100 preliminary and single-round judges, who are scoring them online. Entries in writing categories will move on to a final round of judging next month. Design categories are being judged in a single round. Finalists will be announced on the aan.org Web site in May.