Alt-Weekly Awards Contest Goes Online

Editors and others entering the 2005 Alternative Newsweekly Awards contest won’t have to photocopy entry forms, as they did in years past, and then fill them out by hand, struggling to write legibly. If they prefer, they might even be able to avoid shipping box loads of entries to the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies office in Washington, D.C., during January.

For the first time, the competition will be conducted primarily online. A Web site being developed by the Maryland-based Omni Solutions Group will allow entrants to use their computers to type in pertinent information on electronic submission forms. Articles being entered in the competition can be uploaded as PDF files for judging. Those who don’t have PDFs available will still be permitted to send tear sheets and photocopies to the AAN office, accompanied by submission forms printed out from the contest Web site. All entries must be received by the contest deadline, Feb. 4, 2005.

Entry fees will be totaled-up automatically online, and papers can pay by credit card online or send a check to the AAN office.

Some of the judging will also be done online, with evaluators scoring submissions in a secure, separate area of the Web site.

The switch to an online submission process is one of several changes being made in the Alternative Newsweekly Awards competition, now in its 10th year. The contest recognizes well-written, incisively reported work that presents an effective challenge to established orthodoxies as well as cutting-edge art, design and photography. It is open to AAN-member papers and to cartoonists who appear in those papers.

Entries will be judged in 18 general categories, each with two divisions based on papers’ circulation. The annual Cartoon Contest will also take place online at the same time as the editorial contest. That contest has two divisions, one for cartoons appearing in fewer than five AAN-member papers and one for cartoons appearing in five or more papers.

Editors and art directors who sweat over their Fall Guides might be pleased to learn that a Special Issues category will debut in 2005. This is for all those Best of issues, Holiday Guides, Fashion Guides and other issues devoted to a single topic.

Another change is that each AAN paper may now submit three entries in the Arts Feature category. Previously, papers were limited to one entry in that category. “Food” will no longer be one of the subjects listed under Arts Feature but will be merged into the Food Writing/Criticism category. A Wild Card category will be announced in early December, when a full set of contest rules will be posted to the Web site.

Contest details were ironed-out by AAN’s Editorial Committee in Chicago on Sept. 18. AAN editor Ruth Hammond and assistant editor Ryan Learmouth will be the contest administrators.

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