The 2021 AAN Awards contest is now accepting entries. The deadline to submit entries is
April 15th April 30th, 2021, 11:59pm ET.
The AAN Awards recognize the best in alternative journalism and are a unique chance for alt-weeklies to compete directly against the work of their peers in cities across the continent.
All members of AAN are invited to enter their work from 2020 for awards consideration. Judging will begin after the submission deadline, and finalists will be announced in June. Winners will be announced in July 2021 at the Annual AAN Conference – which will be hosted in Boston if permissible at that time, or will be hosted virtually if the situation requires.
Finalist nominees will be eligible for discounted convention registration.
2021 AAN Awards Rules
The contest is open to member publications of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) and to cartoonists whose work appears in those papers.
Entries must be submitted by the editor, publisher or another designated representative of the publication. Writers may not enter their own work unless authorized to do so by the publication. Individual cartoonists may enter their own work.
All entries must have been published in the period from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020 with the exception of entries in the Investigative Reporting category. Each entry must have been published originally in the member publication or its website, and should not be a reprint.
Submitting papers must be members in good standing of AAN, i.e 2021 membership dues must have been paid.
All entries must be submitted online by Thursday,
April 15th April 30th, 2021 at 11:59pm ET. All entries must be submitted online. Hard copy entries are not permitted.
The fee for all categories is $15 per entry. Papers may pay by credit card online or send a check. Online payments must be made by the online entry deadline of April 30th. Checks should be made payable to the “Association of Alternative Newsmedia” or “AAN” and sent to:
P.O. Box 1152, Memphis TN 38152
Using the Contest Website
All participants must enter the contest by completing an online entry form on the contest website.
- In the dropdown menu, select “2021 AAN Awards” as the contest.
- Select “Contestant Manager.”
- Select your publication from the dropdown menu.
- Passwords are unchanged from last year. If you’ve misplaced your password, or if the person who submitted entries last year is no longer with your publication, contact Britt Ervin at britt[at]aan.org.
All entries must be submitted electronically. Entrants may submit URLs or PDFs. Work that is submitted in the Writing categories may only be submitted once, unless it is also being submitted in a Design category (Cover Design, Editorial Layout, Illustration or Photography).
Please reduce the size of PDFs. The contest site will not allow the upload of files larger than 5MB.
Restriction on Entering the Same Work in More Than One Category
The same work may not be submitted in more than one category with two exceptions:
- A work submitted in a Writing category (where it is being judged on content) also may compete in a Design category (where it is being judged for design).
- A work submitted in the Illustration or Photography category also may be submitted as part of an entry in the Cover Design category.
Finalists will be announced in June. The order of finish will be announced during a reception at the AAN Annual Convention in Boston and/or at a virtual ceremony, in July.
All entries become the property of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. AAN reserves the right to republish the winning entries in part or in whole for promotional or educational purposes.
Entry Limits and Requirements
|Writing Categories||Required Pieces
|Arts Criticism||Up to 3||3|
|Arts Feature||1 or 1 Series||3|
|Beat Reporting||Up to 5||3|
|Column – Political||3||3|
|Feature Story||1 or 1 Series||3|
|Food Writing||Up to 3||3|
|Health Care Reporting||1||3|
|Investigative Reporting||1 or 1 Series||3|
|LGBT Coverage||1 or 1 Series||3|
|Long-Form News Story||1||3|
|Music Writing||Up to 3||3|
|Nonprofit Collaboration||1 or 1 Series||3|
|Design Categories||Required Pieces
|Illustration||1 or 1 Series||3|
|Photography||Up to 10||1|
|Cartoon||Up to 5||1|
|House Ad Campaign||Up to 5||3|
|Innovation/Format Buster||1 or 1 Series||3|
|Multimedia||1 or 1 Series||3|
|Special Section||Entire Section||1|
|Special Publication||Entire Section||1|
Arts Criticism (Jim Ridley Award)
Each entry must consist of one to three pieces of criticism by the same author or writing team. The criticism may pertain to any cultural genre except music or food. The acceptable genres include (but are not limited to) literature, film, dance, video, video games, multimedia, photography, painting, sculpture, theater and performance art. This award is dedicated in the honor of former Nashville Scene editor Jim Ridley. Funded by the Nashville Scene.
Each entry must consist of a single feature or a series of features written by the same author or writing team. It may pertain to any arts genre, including (but not limited to) film, music, literature, dance, video, video games, multimedia, photography, painting, sculpture, theater and performance art.
Each entry must consist of up to five pieces showing breadth and depth of coverage on a specific area of interest (e.g., education, environment, sports) by a single author. Entries may include blog posts, features, and/or multimedia components as part of the overall body of work.
Column (Billy Manes Award)
Each entry must consist of three representative columns by the same author or writing team on any topic other than politics. Unsigned editorials may be entered in this category as long as all three editorials are written by the same author or writing team. Funded by The Billy Manes Foundation.
Each entry must consist of three representative columns by the same author or same writing team that focus on politics or government. Unsigned editorials may be entered in this category as long as all three editorials are written by the same author or writing team.
Each entry must consist of a single, non-arts-related feature or series of features by the same author or writing team. Features are human-interest stories that may be inspired by the news but are more vividly written and generally delve deeper into the character of a person, group, thing or place than a straight-news story would.
Each entry must consist of one to three unrelated pieces by the same author or writing team that focus on food, drinks or restaurants.
Health Care Reporting
Each entry must consist of a single story or series focusing on health care.
Each entry must consist of a single story or series focusing on immigration.
Investigative Reporting (David Carr Award)
Each entry must consist of a single news story or a series by the same author or writing team that displays evidence of extensive research and investigation to cover an issue vital to its community. This category allows work that was published outside of the Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020 contest period, but the bulk of the reporting must have been published in 2020. Each entry must also include a letter from the member paper explaining what reporting techniques were required, what obstacles were overcome and what impact, if any, the story had on the community.
Each entry must consist of a single story or series focusing on LGBT issues. Funded by Boulder Weekly publisher Fran Zankowski.
Long-Form News Story
Each entry must consist of a single multi-sourced hard-news story of more than 1,500 words. Additionally, up to two stories following up on that initial story, written by the same author or writing team, may be included (but are not required).
Each entry must consist of up to three unrelated pieces by the same author or same writing team that focus on any genre of music.
Best Nonprofit Collaboration (The BINJ Award)
Each entry must consist of a single news story or feature or a series by the same author or writing team that was produced in collaboration with a nonprofit news organization. All beats are eligible. Each entry must also include a letter from the member paper explaining the paper’s connection to the news nonprofit. Funded by the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.
Best Right Wing Extremism Coverage
Each entry must consist of a single news story or a series focusing on white supremacy, neo-nazi movements, Christian nationalism etc. Funded by Anonymous.
Each entry must consist of three separate front covers that appeared in the member paper in 2020. The covers of inserts and inside sections are not eligible. Photos and illustrations used in one of the submitted cover designs may also be entered in the Photography or Illustration category.
Each entry must consist of a complete layout that is no longer than seven spreads. The layout may be single article, an article with sidebars or several articles that were clearly published together as part of a package. The photos, illustrations or front cover of the editorial layout may not be submitted in one of the other Design categories.
Each entry must consist of a single illustration or set of illustrations for a single story. The illustration(s) must be original to the member paper. If a set of illustrations is submitted, all must be by the same artist or same team of artists. Illustrations submitted to this category may also be submitted in the Cover Design category.
Each entry may consist of up to ten photos by the same photographer or team of photographers. If the photos have been digitally altered in any way beyond conventional cropping and sizing, please attach a description of the alteration and how it was achieved to each copy of the entry. Photos submitted to this category may also be submitted in the Cover Design category.
Entries may be submitted in this category by member papers or by individual cartoonists. Each entry must consist of up to five (5) cartoons published in an AAN-member paper. Only stand-alone cartoons qualify; cartoons drawn to illustrate an article are ineligible. Cartoons should be submitted in the same size and color scheme (b&w or color) as they appeared when they were originally published.
This category recognizes work on a single topic that is presented in an unconventional format in print, or a combination of web and print. While a web component is not required, the entry must have a print component. The print component may present information with an atypical juxtaposition of graphics, art and text. The web component may incorporate video, audio, slideshows or maps to convey information. Entries may include an accompanying letter, but it is not required.
Works in the Innovation category may not be submitted in another category.
This category recognizes the best use of multimedia–such as a slide show, web video, audio clip, interactive feature, or combination of format–on a single topic. Advertorial content is not allowed. Permalink URLs for each work must be pasted into the URL fields of the contest site. If more than one component shares a web page, please submit an explanatory letter to make clear which components are being judged. Do not submit files for features that are no longer active on your site.
Each entry must consist of a special section or supplement that is not part of the regular weekly lineup. Examples are a “Best Of” issue, Holiday Gift Guide, Fashion Guide or Summer Guide.
Each entry must consist of a publication distributed independent of the weekly paper, such as quarterly or annual glossy magazines that operate as stand-alone brands. Special sections (which are distributed in place of the weekly lineup) are not eligible. Examples include annual manuals or newcomers’ guides; standalone bar, nightlife, drinking, or cannabis-focused publications; and tourism or college magazines.
Questions about entry rules should be directed to Molly Willmott at mollyw[at]aan.org.