By Simon Butt-Bethlendy, Chair of the CIPR Education & Skills Group
If you’re vying to be recognised as one of the UK’s finest education journalists this year, you’ll be working on your entry now for submission no later than Friday 16th September
We don’t need to tell you anything about writing these. That’s your talent, after all. What might help are these ten things our judges attend to particularly closely when they assess entries:
- The ‘overview’ copy you write will be what judges read first. It must persuasively advocate the winning qualities of your submission and make clear what makes your entry especially relevant and distinctive.
- All pieces are judged against seven criteria, most of which cover several features. When selecting your pieces for submission, think about whether they answer the criteria below. You can draw attention to aspects related to the criteria in your overview text. Please note that not all criteria are equally weighted.
- The first criterion focuses on writing style. Judges will decide how well presented, accessible and succinct the piece is; whether language used engages different audiences; and how well reports are organised – whether they have good narrative flow.
- Next, judges will assess how well the piece succeeds in communicating information to a ‘novice’ reader who may be unfamiliar with the subject matter. Background and clarifying information as well as structure and answers to anticipated questions readers might have all score marks here.
- You’re on the right track if the piece tackles the topic covered in a novel way. This third area for scoring looks at new angles, fresh details, unconventional and impressive writing techniques and whether the writer gives a voice to previously unrepresented people or organisations.
- The next part asks if the entry demonstrates a balanced view of the issues reported, drawing on different sources to provide an overall impartial account. It looks for a variety of views and whether biases are identified and discussed.
- If the entry covers a new area or aspect of education or one that is rarely or infrequently addressed, it is likely to impress judges more. Even if the topic is not unusual, if the aspect covered is or the reporting is exceptionally skilful, then it should do well. New data and views score highly here.
- If the journalism exceeds general standards of writing than would normally be expected – if it is unusually insightful, well-written and well-presented, and if it provokes thought, debate and challenges assumptions – then it will attract high marks here.
- Our judges will say how much they enjoyed your entry as well as their overall impressions of its quality within its field. Finally, there’s room for comments on overall excellence.
- Once you’ve selected your pieces and carefully crafted an ‘overview’ of up to 500 words to set your entry in context, go through the call for entries and read the entry form carefully to check you’ve satisfied the entry criterion.
We hope these tips help you to refine your submission and we wish you the very best of luck in your category. We look forward to welcoming those shortlisted when they take up their place at the CIPR Education Journalism Awards ceremony at The Shard on Thurs 17th November 2016.