James Madison Freedom Of Information Awards  - Call for 2021 Work
The Society of Professional Journalists - Northern California is accepting nominations for the 37th Annual James Madison Awards, recognizing the people and organizations of NorCal who have advanced freedom of information and expression through journalism, activism and the courts in 2021.

Our chapter has hosted these multidisciplinary awards for nearly 40 years because we recognize that protecting the First Amendment and open government takes an ecosystem that extends beyond the press - to officials, whistleblowers, citizens, nonprofits, educators and more, all working on different parts of the same goal. Of course, we honor journalists as well.
To allow our volunteer judging committee time to thoroughly review the nominees, the DEADLINE FOR NOMINATIONS is Saturday, December 11, 2021, at 11:59 p.m., Pacific time.
To include material from December, only work from December may be submitted until January 7, 2022 at 11:59 p.m., Pacific time.
There is no contest entry fee.
The awards are named after James Madison, the creative force behind the First Amendment.
SPJ NorCal presents the awards during National Freedom of Information Week near Madison’s birthday, March 16. We’ll announce details as the date nears.  
We welcome nominations for individuals who, during 2021, have defended public access to government meetings, public records, court proceedings, or otherwise promoted the public’s right to know, publish, and speak freely about issues of public concern.
You can nominate others or yourself or your own organization. Our committee members regularly submit nominations as well and sit out voting in any categories in which they have a conflict of interest.  
Our awards include:
Professional Journalist(s) - with categories in Print/Digital, TV/Video, Radio/Audio, Data Visualization, and Podcast Journalism
Nominees are separated into larger and smaller outlets. Community outlets and small newsrooms are encouraged to apply.
Student Journalist(s)
Nonprofit Organization
Career Achievement
Public Official
Legal Counsel
Electronic Access
Write-In (for entries that don’t fit our other categories)
More details about award categories:  
Professional Journalist and Student Journalist awards recognize journalists who have fought for access to records, meetings or court proceedings;
and/or, have made exceptional use of public records in their reporting;
and/or, who have promoted education on open government and information freedom issues through stories, editorials or other advocacy.
We are open to all scopes of work: from a single piece of journalism, to a series, to a collaborative effort by an entire newsroom or even a team of newsrooms.
Note: The JMA journalism awards have a strong emphasis on accessing records, meetings, and the courts. Our awards do not focus on investigative work based primarily on human sources. That work should be nominated in the source/whistleblower category, honoring the source(s)/whistleblower(s).
Radio / Audio division: Honors an individual or team for a single broadcast story or work in a series of programs.
Podcast Journalism: Honors an individual or team for a serial program whose distribution is primarily digital, but may have also aired as radio broadcasts. Submit up to four episodes for judging.
The Nonprofit Organization category is for nonprofits that have advanced public records access or freedom of information in the past year. Nonprofit news organizations should apply in the journalism categories.
The Public Official award is given to a government official who has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to keeping public records or meetings public, or otherwise has taken exemplary leadership on transparency or First Amendment issues.
The Beverly Kees Educator Award recognizes remarkable efforts by educators to cultivate a devotion to the values of freedom of information and/or expression. It is named for the journalist, SF State professor, transparency activist and former SPJ NorCal president who died in 2004.
The Norwin S. Yoffie Career Achievement Award is named in honor of a founder and stalwart supporter of the chapter’s Freedom of Information Committee, who died in 2000 after many years of distinguished service to SPJ and dedication to sunshine.
The Citizen award recognizes individuals (of any immigration status) who are actively engaged with their communities to advance the cause of transparency and open government.  For example, a tireless open meetings advocate or a public records requester who goes on to serve as a plaintiff in an open records lawsuit may be nominated in this category. For individuals who are being nominated primarily for serving as a source for a story, please use the source/whistleblower category.
Some Source(s)/Whistleblower(s) want to remain anonymous. In such cases, we may honor them anonymously alongside the journalist they worked with, where merited, in our award language.
Qualifying region: For the purposes of this contest, our California region extends from Santa Barbara County to the Oregon border. The nominees should be based in this area, though may have played a role in a more geographically dispersed effort.
Send questions to Freedom of Information Committee Chairs Lauren Smiley and Christine Peek at spjnorcalfoi@gmail.com 
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Email *
Award Categories *
For Professional Journalist(s) nominees, choose one of the following divisions.                                                   Categories with many worthy contenders are broken into larger and smaller divisions to account for a difference in news-gathering resources.                                                                                           For Print/Digital and Data Visualization categories: “Large” organizations are where one or more of the following apply: print circulation exceeds 100,000 and/or average monthly unique website visitors exceed 500,000. If neither of those apply to your organization, select “Small.”                                                  If your organization is a news service or an organization that produces content for syndication, choose your division based on the estimated reach the story received in syndication. **Judges reserve the right to reset the boundaries between large and small divisions within a category based on the number of entries received.  For TV/Video, Radio/Audio, and Podcast Journalism - provide the number of people on your production team in the next question.
Clear selection
For TV/Video, Radio/Audio, and Podcast Journalism - provide the number of people on your production team. We will use this number, where appropriate, to sort nominees into smaller and larger outlet categories.
Write-in Award Category (if you selected "other")
Nominator's Name (we accept self-nominations) *
Nominator's Email *
Nominator's Phone *
Nominee's Name - Name the entity or names that you'd want printed on the award. *
Nominee's Phone Number (For teams: one contact suffices, as a representative for the group) *
Nominee's Email *
Description *
Please include (i) a summary of the story, stories or action(s) taken; (ii) a description of the freedom of information aspect of the story or action, specifically explaining how freedom of information laws and tools were employed and/or how the story or actions shed light on governmental activities; (iii) a discussion of major findings, achievements and subsequent results, i.e., whether the story received attention from other media outlets or spurred new legislation, a regulatory change, or other public response; and (iv) an account of the difficulty or uniqueness of effort in obtaining the story or pursuing the action; and (v) a URL to the website of any story or other relevant materials. Responses can be up to 600 words.
Additional Materials *
This online form does not permit nominators to upload documents.  If you plan to send additional materials in support of your nomination (e.g. PDFs, website links, or other relevant documents), please let us know by marking the next question, and please provide a brief description of these materials so that we will be able to identify them.                                                            Journalism category entrants: email us links or PDFs to all of the work that you are submitting.
If you checked "yes," please email your supporting materials to spjnorcalfoi@gmail.com with the name of the nominee and award category in the subject line.
Please describe the supporting materials you intend to send in the space below.
A copy of your responses will be emailed to the address you provided.
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