Critiques and Contests: Your One-Stop Guide


As you wrap up the school year (and publish your final issues and distribute your yearbooks), you may want to get your editors to start pulling together work for critiques and award consideration. Many have early June deadlines, so get your POs submitted and checks cut now!

Here are a few organizations to consider submitting your work to…

Download this info as a helpful PDF

National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA)

NSPA Membership: You need to be a member ($129 for most high school media) to submit your publication for critique, the Pacemaker contest and individual awards.

NSPA Critique: If you want a critique for your publication, NSPA charges an additional fee of $89. (They used to have tiered membership pricing and you had to be a Level 2 Member to get a critique – now they just call it an “add-on.”) Critiques are generally emailed over the summer, in time for publications staffs to make changes when planning their 2019 books, papers, magazines, broadcasts or webpages.

NSPA Pacemaker Award: The Pacemaker contest does not include a written critique, and publications submitted to NSPA’s critique service are not automatically entered in the Pacemaker competition — staffs need to submit a separate Pacemaker entry!

NSPA Individual Awards: NSPA members can also enter work in the Individual Award categories for Story of the Year, Picture of the Year, Design of the Year, Broadcast Story of the Year, Multimedia Story Package of the Year, Social Justice Reporting and Cartoon of the Year. There is also a new “Portfolio of the Year” category. Entry is free for members and easy – it’s all online! Entries must be uploaded by June 22. Page to the bottom of this link for more details about each individual award.

Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA)

  • CSPA Membership: You need to be a “Regular” Member [Hybrid $309, Digital or Print $269) to receive a critique, enter the Crown contest and submit individual awards.
  • CSPA Critique: You need to be a “Regular” Member [Hybrid $309, Digital or Print $269) to receive the critique. Critiques are generally emailed over the summer, in time for publications staffs to make changes when planning their 2020 publications. Entries must be postmarked by June 10.
  • CSPA Crown Award: Be sure to also submit a second copy of your publication for the Crown contest. The Crown Awards final submission deadline is October 1, 2019.
  • CSPA Gold Circle AwardsThere are 60 CSPA Gold Circle Entries included with your regular membership. All contests have ELECTRONIC upload/submission. Entries must be uploaded by June 10.

Virginia High School League (VHSL)

This is our “state championship” and publication staffs earning the ranking of Trophy Class earn their school Wells Fargo Cup Points – ask your Activities Office to pay for these contests (they’d pay for the basketball team’s state tournament entry, right?).

Entries must be RECEIVED by June 15. (This is not a postmark date; the entries must actually be received by the 15th.)

Click one of the links below to download the appropriate critique form for your publication:

VHSL Multimedia Contest:Enter work in several different Individual Award categories for just $2 per entry. Most of the categories allow you to select three entries per publication. Entries must be RECEIVED by June 15.

***While contest directions say that you must submit “tear sheets” from your publication, if you do not have an extra copy of your publication that you can afford to tear apart, YOU MAY SUBMIT HIGH-QUALITY COLOR PRINTOUTS for this contest.


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