National Scholastic Press Association

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Two students talking while walking in a campus.

National Scholastic Press Association

The National Scholastic Press Association promotes the standards and ethics of good journalism in the United States by providing its members with opportunities for education and training as well as recognition for their work. These standards and ethics are accepted and practiced by print, broadcast, and digital media.

In addition, the NSPA bestows its Individual Awards upon the students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the field of scholastic journalism each year. The National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) is a community of student journalists and teachers of journalism at the collegiate level that has more than 1,350 members.

What is the National Scholastic Press Association?

What is the National Scholastic Press Association? The NSPA is a non-profit organization that was established in 1921 in the United States for the purpose of representing high school and secondary school periodicals. Conventions geared toward high school journalists are held all around the country on an annual basis and are open to members of the association.

Comparable to the Pulitzer Prize, the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) is widely regarded as one of the most prominent award bodies in high school journalism. Publications are graded by the NSPA based on their performance in the following categories: Concept & Essentials; Content; Writing & Editing; Photography, Art & Graphics; and Layout. The judges take into account the variations between literary magazines, feature magazines, and specialist publications and then award points accordingly.

Group of student smiling at each other while talking.

For instance, if a literary magazine does not have any photographs, the score will not suffer because the artwork and graphics will be examined for the score in this part. This is because photography is not included. Achievements that stand out as particularly noteworthy will be awarded a mark of distinction.

In order for the publication to be eligible for the highest level of the All-American Award, it must first achieve a total of 450 points out of the maximum possible 500 points and earn at least four Marks of Distinction. The highly sought All-American Award is given to around five percent of all submissions.

What is the Mission of the NSPA?

What is the mission of the NSPA? The National Scholastic Press Association is an educational organization that was established in Minnesota as a non-profit educational association. Its headquarters are located in Minnesota, and it was incorporated there. The National Scholastic Press Association offers journalism education services to students, teachers, media advisers, and other individuals across the United States and other countries. It first opened its doors in 1921.

Young teacher talking to a group of students.

The NSPA is composed of three divisions:

National Scholastic Press Association

Memberships are available for student media organizations representing elementary, junior, and senior high schools through the NSPA division.

Associated Collegiate Press

Memberships are available through the ACP division for student publications published at colleges, universities, and professional and technical schools.

Minnesota High School Press Association

Memberships in the MHSPA division are available to student media organizations from Minnesota’s high schools, junior highs, and middle schools.

Memberships in all categories are available to students working in the media at both public and private schools for the cost of one year’s membership.

Each division offers training programs for journalism education, publishes materials for journalism education, offers media critique and recognition programs for members, offers information on developments in journalism and student media, and offers a forum for members to communicate with one another and share their work.

The associations use these activities to advance the norms and ethics of excellent journalism in the United States, as understood and practiced by the print, broadcast, and electronic media. Additionally, they support and argue for the rights of student media to have free expression.

All of the divisions work together with other student media associations as well as other non-student organizations and corporations who share their objective to educate student journalists, acknowledge their work, improve the quality of student media, and encourage careers in the media.

What Awards are Given by the NSPA?

What awards are given by the NSPA?  Student journalism and school newspapers are the focus of the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA), which is an organization. The High School Journalists Association is widely regarded as one of the most distinguished award bodies in high school journalism, and its awards are sometimes compared to those of the Pulitzer Prize. Each year, the association presents honors in the following categories:

National Pacemaker Awards

The Pacemaker Award, which is considered to be the most prestigious prize in scholastic journalism, is given out annually by the National Scholastic Press Association.

Since 1927, these awards have been presented on an annual basis to recognize outstanding achievements in the field of student journalism in the United States. The awards are informally referred to as the “Pulitzer Prizes of student journalism” due to the widespread consensus that they represent the pinnacle of national recognition in their respective fields.

Broadcast, Innovation, Literary Magazine, Online, Newspaper/Newsmagazine, Specialty Magazine, and Yearbook are the several types of publications that each have their own respective categories.

Teams of industry experts evaluate each entry based on a set of criteria that includes coverage and content, quality of writing and reporting, leadership, design, photography, and graphics.

All NSPA member publications are eligible to participate in the contests. All submissions must have been published or broadcast within the time frame allotted on their respective entry forms.

The National Scholastic Press Association is in charge of running the competition for high school publications, whilst the Associated Collegiate Press is in charge of running the competition for college and university publications. At the JEA/NSPA National Conference (for high schools) and the ACP/CMA National College Media Convention (for colleges), Pacemakers are given out annually in the following categories:

  • Newspaper
  • Online
  • Yearbook/Magazine
  • Broadcast

NSPA Individual Awards

Each year, the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) confers its Individual Awards, which recognize outstanding individual achievements in scholastic journalism.

There are eleven main categories, plus a twelfth category for junior high and middle school, and a number of subcategories inside each of those main categories. The submissions are evaluated by panels of specialists who have prior experience and knowledge in the respective fields covered by the various competitions.

Any student working on the staff of an NSPA-member publication is eligible to enter the contests. All submissions must have been published or broadcast during the current school year to be considered.

Entries are due in June, and the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention is when Individual Awards are handed out.

The first-place winners of the Story of the Year competition in the categories of News, Feature Story, Editorial/Opinion Story, and Sports Story, in addition to the winners of the Social Justice Reporting competition, are eligible to compete for the $1,000 Brasler Prize.

The following is a list of the Individual Awards that are given out annually to recognize those who have produced the best individual work in collegiate journalism.

  • Broadcast Story of the Year
  • Cartoon of the Year
  • Design of the Year
  • Digital Story of the Year
  • Photo of the Year
  • Story of the Year
  • Social Justice Reporting
  • Local Climate Change Reporting
  • Portfolio of the Year
  • Best Use of Social Media
  • COVID-19 Coverage
  • Middle School Awards

NSPA Best of Show

At both of the national conferences that are put on by the National Scholastic Press Association, the competition for “Best of Show” is one of the events that take place.

The contest categories, as well as the deadline and instructions for submitting entries, are posted to the website for the autumn convention in September and the website for the spring convention in January.

The total number of convention attendees will determine the range of possibilities for both the number of entries and the number of spots granted.

As a result of the fact that only newspapers and broadcast teams that are registered for the convention are allowed to enter the competition, the level of competition is often lower and is unique from that of national competitions such as the Pacemaker Awards.

The Best of Show award does not indicate a rating of excellence on a national scale; rather, it recognizes excellence all around among the attendees and the submissions they submitted.

National Scholastic Press Association Hall of Fame

The NSPA Hall of Fame honors scholastic media outlets that have demonstrated ongoing excellence. Publications that have been given entry into the NSPA Hall of Fame have, over the course of 11 years, received a total of 10 All-American ratings from the NSPA’s publication critique service.

A male and female student standing in the middle of the hallway, talking to each other while the female student is looking through the notebook that the male student is holding

NSPA Clips and Clicks

Clips and Clicks is currently celebrating its second year of recognizing outstanding work produced by student journalists.

Clips & Clicks is a student achievement competition that is open to all NSPA members and features many categories for student accomplishment. Each contest is based on one semester’s worth of work. The competition will finish with a sweepstakes award that will be announced in the spring. The name of the competition is a combination of traditional clip contests for print media and contemporary digital clicks.

The work that was generated between August 1 and December 17, 2021, was included in the autumn-semester component of the sweepstakes. The fall winners and the sweepstakes scorecard were released in January 2022. Submissions for the yearbook or literary magazine need to be completed during this time period, but published after the 17th of December is fine.

The competition for the spring semester covers the period of time beginning December 18, 2021, and ending May 27, 2022. The last day to enter the contest for the spring semester was May 27, 2022, and we will start accepting entries for the spring semester in February.

The cost to enter is $10 per entry, and there is no cap on the number of entries. Anyone working as a student at a magazine that is a member of the NSPA is eligible. Competitions will be held in the areas of broadcasting, design, photojournalism, and writing.

NSPA Honor Roll and Scholarships

Journalism Honor Roll

Students will be recognized as members of the NSPA Journalism Honor Roll if they have earned a grade point average of 3.5 or better (based on a scale of 4.0) and have been on the staff for at least two years by the time this school year comes to a close.

Eligible candidates are students who are currently working in their second year. Students in their senior year who have achieved a spot on the Honor Roll are eligible to compete for one or more scholarships worth $1,000 each.

A listing of all students who have been inducted onto the Honor Roll will be published in the NSPA’s Best of the High School Press, and all Honor Roll inductees will receive a certificate of appreciation for their accomplishments.

Wikoff Scholarship for Editorial Leadership

Since 1998, the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) has presented the Wally Wikoff Scholarship for Editorial Leadership in honor of his service to the organization during the 1970s when he served as its executive director.

Young woman standing next to a shelf full of books.

The award of $1,000 will be presented to a graduating high school senior working on the staff of an NSPA member newspaper who possesses a grade point average of at least 3.5 on a scale of 4.0 or its equal.

In addition to the application form, potential candidates are required to provide three published editorials as well as a concise reference from their academic advisor.

Courage in Student Journalism Award

The National Scholastic Press Association is now one of the sponsors of the Courage in Student Journalism Award, joining Kent State University’s Center for Scholastic Journalism and the Student Press Law Center.

An award is given to a meritorious high school or middle school journalist who has shown persistence in the face of adversity and resistance in legitimately exercising press rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

The second award is given to a school administrator who has shown support, despite the challenging nature of the situation, for the First Amendment press rights of the administrator’s school media.

What is the Benefit of Joining the NSPA?

What is the benefit of joining the NSPA? Joining NSPA is the best way to establish and improve student media because it’s a tried-and-true basis. The membership is determined by the magazine, not by the individual or the school. When a publication becomes a member, the membership extends protection to all of the student editors, writers, and advisers working for that publication.

Students laughing while walking in the school campus.

There is no time limit on when school groups can join, and their membership will remain active throughout the academic year.

School publications and clubs that are members of the organization will receive notifications regarding all competitions, conferences, workshops, and deadlines.

Quill & Scroll Group Memberships

Every member of the media staff at a chartered high school or chartered company that oversees student journalism is eligible to apply for membership in this worldwide honor society for scholastic journalism. Membership in the organization is conferred annually.

Following the payment of the one-time initiation cost of $25 by a student or the school journalism department, the society will then give the initiate a lifelong membership, official membership pin, and certificate. Members of Quill and Scroll have the opportunity to compete in contests, which increases their chances of winning Quill and Scroll scholarships.

There are no yearly fees to be a member of the Quill and Scroll, and the charter is awarded for the duration of the school’s or organization’s existence.

Feedback on Improving Your Publication

The NSPA provides a variety of reviews and comments on publications and websites. They provide your workers with beneficial and constructive insight from a source that is objective and has experience.

NSPA’s critique service offers traditional written critiques, plus digital critiques and enhanced super critiques with input given on your publication. If you plan on going to an NSPA convention, you should definitely sign up for an on-site critique because it is typically one of the most memorable parts of the event. Your feedback, in whatever form it comes, is an extremely helpful stepping stone on the path to progress.

Training & Networking with Peers

You will have the opportunity to network with student journalists and advisers from all around the country if you participate in an NSPA convention, workshop, or webinar.

In addition, the NSPA is also providing a series of webinars titled “Pacemaker Master Class” that will connect you with specialists and colleagues from throughout the country to discuss basics as well as emerging trends.

Honors and Recognition

NSPA provides possibilities for competition that are tailored to your particular workforce. Its most prominent accolades, the Pacemaker Honours, are widely recognized as the most coveted awards in the field of student journalism. The National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) Individual Awards are recognized as the highest individual distinctions in student journalism and are given out in a variety of categories across print, web, and broadcast media.

Participation in Individual Awards will require payment of a one-time charge of $99 beginning with the membership year 2022-2023. You will be able to choose to pay this participation cost when you renew your membership with NSPA, or you may buy it later in the year via the NSPA online store.

Current staff is given the opportunity to exhibit their work at NSPA conventions (and now also online) in order to compete for the organization’s Best of Show Awards.

You also have the opportunity to receive an All-American grade and begin a legacy of greatness for your newspaper by making use of its critiquing service. Your magazine will be recognized as having extended achievement and will be inducted into the NSPA’s Hall of Fame.

The NSPA Honor Roll and the Wikoff Scholarship for Editorial Leadership are two of the ways that the organization acknowledges the achievements of individual students. In addition, the NSPA provides financial assistance to attendees of its conventions in the form of scholarships.

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