It's Murrow Award season! The 2021 final entry deadline is February 18 at 5pm ET. Late entries will be accepted with a $40 late fee per entry through Feb. 22 at 5pm ET. Here's your comprehensive guide to putting your best foot forward with your entries, including:
Quick Tips | Common Mistakes to Avoid | Entry Checklist | Winning Work
To put together your best entries, the RTDNA Awards Committee shares top tips:
Hold an inter-newsroom competition to refine your newsroom’s entries. A watch party of your team's best work from the past year is not only a great boost, but also an opportunity to provide feedback to make your work even stronger.
Have someone who did not work on the story look over the piece and entry with a critical eye, just like the judges will, to ensure it’s your best work. A second set of eyes can help you identify your strongest work, provide feedback to help you showcase it and catch mistakes you may have missed.
Watch past winning work. Wondering what it takes to win in a certain category? Looking for ideas of what types of work to enter? Check out past winning work here to get inspired.
Read category rules carefully and be sure to select the best category or categories for your work. Remember that some categories, like Excellence in Sound and Excellence in Video are looking for a single news story, while others like Excellence in Writing may include up to three stories. Find complete category rules here.
Ask questions early.
Make it as easy as possible for the judges to access the piece, whether it’s hosted on your website, YouTube, SoundCloud, or elsewhere. You want judges to spend their time being wowed by your work, not sifting through multiple or broken links. Remember, many categories require an entry be submitted as one link.
Take your time and get help if you’re stuck. Don’t submit something you know is wrong! It's much easier to correct an entry error before it's paid and submitted. If you think an entry fee looks wrong, aren't sure about your market size or have any questions, get help before submitting. Awards Director Kate is happy to help!
Make it as easy as possible for the judges to access the content of your entry. Whether your audio, video or digital media is hosted on your website, YouTube, SoundCloud, or elsewhere, you want judges to spend their time being wowed by your work, not sifting through multiple or broken links. Note that many categories require your entry be submitted as one single URL link.
Get the early bird discount! Entries submitted by February 11 automatically get $10 off, so get those entries in! But don't worry, you can come back and submit more entries right up through the final Feb.18 deadline as many times as you need.
Think like a judge. When working on your entry, think like a judge. How will the way you craft the entry's description, link and (if used) supplemental materials help a judge understand what they're watching and the work that went into it? Watch our recent discussion with the Awards Committee above to hear more about what judges look for (and hate to see most).
Get help by chat. Our Murrow chat-bot doesn't know everything, but it can help with many commonly asked questions and give tips for finding answers.
Consider an Overall Excellence entry. Is your station submitting work in multiple categories? Submit in at least two categories (for TV and Radio, this must include Newscast) and your station is eligible to enter in Overall Excellence as well. Think of an Overall Excellence submission as a reel for your station. Find complete rules and guidelines here. The Overall Excellence rundown should include timestamps, topics, and dates of the work in your entry. The judges are just looking for a quick reference of what they’re watching in each section of the entry and it can be a pretty basic description: “ 00:00:00 – Special report on YXZ topic, aired on 123 date.”
Not entering. Whether due to a lack of confidence or simply waiting until too late, not entering at least one piece is a missed opportunity. In addition to the chance to be recognized by peers, submitting your work also gets more industry eyes on your work, helps boost your self-promotion skills and gives you an opportunity to reflect on your important impact.
Not coordinating with your newsroom. With the exception of Student categories, the Murrow Awards are presented to outlets rather than individuals. Coordinate with your news team to be sure you don't accidentally enter the same piece twice, leave out a key category or duplicate efforts when submitting.
Forgetting to renew your membership before submitting. RTDNA members save on entry fees for their newsroom! To qualify for member rates, you or a member of your newsroom's full-time news staff must be an RTDNA member through February 18, 2021. Member discounts are verified during the entry process so be sure to join or renew before submitting. Memberships are available for any journalist (and members also get additional benefits throughout the year). If you're not sure if you or someone at your station is a member, we can help.
Submitting too long an entry. Note category time limits and submit materials within them. Judges are instructed to only watch or listen up to the allotted time for each entry. Submit a 30-minute video in a category with a 10-minute time limit, and your entry may appear to have been submitted in error. Check the time limits for each category here.
Trying to log into the awards.rtdna.com site with last year’s awards portal credentials. We update and overhaul the award entry portal every year, so your past year award account login may be saved in your web browser or written down, but old accounts are no longer valid. Anyone who will be working on entries should create a 2021 award entry account, which will be active only through the February 18, 2021 deadline.
Not creating your own 2021 awards account at awards.rtdna.org.
Trying to use an RTDNA member from your station’s member username/password at awards.rtdna.org. If you'll be completing the entry form, you’ll want to create a 2021 award entry account, even if you will be using an RTDNA membership from someone else at your station for entry fee discounts. You won’t need to input member information to verify discounted member entry fees until you’re already in the entry form, and member usernames/passwords aren't stored in the award entry system so they won't be recognized for logging into the entry form.
Only creating one awards entry account for your whole newsroom. If you'll be completing the entry form, you’ll want to create a 2021 award entry account. Award entry accounts simply allow access to the entry form and do not have to match the member used for member entry discounts or other contact information with each entry. It can be helpful to divide and conquer your newsroom's entries by having multiple people from your station help with the submission process.
Submitting links that aren’t publicly accessible. Be sure the judges can access the work you'd like judged. Double check you aren't accidentally submitting links that require administrator access, logins or passwords. Remember, winning links are posted on RTDNA.org for the public to view.
Trying to submit multiple links in a category that doesn’t call for them. Make your entry as clear as possible for judges by submitting one link that goes directly to the content you want the judges to see. Note that most categories require the audio, video or digital media portion of your entry to be submitted in one, single URL link.
Not reading all the rules of a category. For example, Overall Excellence for TV and radio entrants requires a newscast entry and at least one additional category and asks for an overview of the station’s digital work. Don't jeopardize an award by simply failing to meet category requirements. Check the .
Selecting the wrong region (or forgetting to select a region). All entrants should select their region, including digital, student and network news organizations judged at the national level. Entries produced in partnerships of more than one newsroom should be submitted in the market and region of the largest partner Find the region list here.
Forgetting to list partners on a piece. Any newsrooms that provided production assistance or significant editorial input for an entry are considered partners and all partner organizations must be listen on the entry. Entries produced in partnerships of more than one newsroom should be submitted in the market and region of the largest partner. Read the full rules on partnerships and eligibility here.
Rushing when completing the entry form. Take your time to avoid errors and typos on the entry form. Should your entry win, the award information will appear on the RTDNA website and on physical awards exactly as entered. Entry errors can also confuse judges, place your entry into the wrong judging pool or even cause disqualification. Start early and take your time.
Not submitting great work in all the categories it qualifies for. In most cases, you can submit a story in more than one category. A Feature Reporting entry would definitely not fit in Hard News also but (for example), that Feature piece could be a great fit for Excellence in Sound, Video, or Writing too!
Missing the Early Bird discount. Entries submitted by February 11 automatically get $10 off, so get those entries in! But don't worry, you can come back and submit more entries right up through the final Feb.18 deadline as many times as you need.
Trying to list all the people who worked on an entry. The Murrow Awards are station rather than individual awards (with the exception of Student categories). The entry form will ask who to contact in case of questions about an entry, but we do not note or verify any individual participation in work submitted.
Trying to upload a video file. Our entry platform cannot accept uploads of video files. You'll want to submit the video, audio or digital media portion of your entry as a URL link. Media content can be hosted on your website, YouTube, SoundCloud or any platform of your choice. The link you submit is what the judges will click to view your work and what will be included on the winner page should your work win. (For Radio entrants, audio files can be accepted but a link is recommended.)
Entering in the wrong market size. Double check whether your TV or Radio station is Small Market, Large Market or Network or whether your Digital outlet is considered Small or Large by carefully reviewing the market size guidelines on the rules page.
Missing the member discount. Before submitting your entries, be sure you or someone from your news team is an RTDNA member - that makes your news organization eligible for the discounted member rate on entry fees. You'll trigger the discount by entering the RTDNA member's member email in the "Membership Information" section of the entry form.
Submitting an entry you know has an error. Errors on an entry are much easier to correct before they've been paid and submitted. Kate (Awards) and Karen (membership) are here to help, so if you have any questions or think something looks wrong, get help first.
- Gather possible stories
- Conduct an internal review in your newsroom
- Review category rules & requirements
- Confirm RTDNA membership (yourself or someone in your newsroom)
- Review the entry form (find a walkthrough here)
- Note any questions you may have (Get help by chat or email)
- Edit your audio/video clips and upload to host platforms as necessary
- Create descriptions or supplemental materials as necessary (check your category’s rules)
- Create your 2021 awards entry account
- Complete entry form for each entry
- Thoroughly check and review all the details, links and supplements for each entry
- Provide payment and submit to judging
- Repeat as needed!
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