Criteria for Winning Entries


Judges for the Premack Award represent many aspects of the professional community. From law and politics, to the arts and non-profit work, the goal is to engage a variety of news-consumers.  All entries, regardless of medium, will be judged on the basis of their relevance and impact on their community, as well as their clarity, thoroughness, fairness, timeliness, and creativity.

For more insight into the judging process, we have included the judges guideline below.

2012 Premack Awards: Wisdom for Judges

 Category I: Public Affairs Reporting (PAR)

The public affairs reporting category is intended to honor excellence in the coverage of news that affects the shared lives of Minnesotans, and that Minnesotans can directly or indirectly influence or control by their actions, including their votes.  This may also include journalism that attempts to fully explain an issue, describe its context, identify the people involved in it, and/or inform citizens about how they can become involved. First priority should be given to articles, broadcasts or posts that deal with politics and government.  However, public affairs are also understood to include economics, culture, science and philanthropy, especially as they impact a journalist’s community, region and state.

Criteria judges should consider in evaluating entries:

1. Relevance and salience to the community. Is this about something that affects many people, or has the potential to do so? Was it about a matter of wide interest? Is it timely?

2. Impact on the community. Did reporting this news produce a discernible response?

3. Thoroughness. Does the entry convey sufficient depth, comprehensiveness, breadth and perspective to give its audience a solid understanding of its topic? Quantity is not a substitute for quality here.  An entry consisting of a well-executed single story, broadcast or post should not compare unfavorably with a series, merely because of volume.

4. Clarity and creativity of the presentation. Winning entries should be well written and presented.

5. Fairness. This competition is unusual in that it is judged not mainly by journalists but by people in public life.  This award should reflect their judgment of what constitutes fair and respectful treatment of the subjects of the news.

6. Enterprise — Originality in subject matter and in reporting should be favored. This may include work that was exclusive or required exceptional skills in overcoming obstacles to getting the information. Summaries of issues already well covered by the media, no matter how well written, should not be highly rated.

Judges will select the top three entries for each of the following three divisions of the Public Affairs Reporting Category and then select, out of the top three, the entry that should win the top prize:

  • PAR-1            Public Affairs Reporting: Print / Online – Larger
  • PAR-2            Public Affairs Reporting: Print / Online – Smaller
  • PAR-3            Public Affairs Reporting: Broadcast / Online – for TV and Radio

Category II: Opinion

The Opinion category has two divisions:

  • Division 1-op is for large media organizations, both print and broadcast.
  • Division 2-op is for small media organizations, both print and broadcast.

Entries in this category may include written or broadcast editorials, columns, blogs and other expressions of a point of view about state or local public affairs.

Persuasiveness of the argument is of primary importance in this category. The winning entry should have made an effective contribution to state or local public debate on an issue. The argument should be made logically, clearly, forcefully and eloquently. It should be grounded in strong reporting by its writer.

While the winning entry in this category should express a definite point of view, it should also pass a fairness test in the eyes of the judges.  Cheap shots and ad hominem attacks should not be rewarded.

One more thing-
The board recognizes that from time to time, some entry will relate directly to an area in which one of the judges is active.  We have had some cases in which that relationship was very direct.  The general “rule” in this situation is for that judge to acknowledge the potential conflict of interest and withdraw from the discussion about that entry.


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