After nearly 30,000 judging instances – decisions made by individuals during first round judging and by panels during final round judging – the National Press Photographers Association is proud to present this body of work – the 2021 Best of Photojournalism.
For four weeks, more than 100 visual journalists around the country went through every entry, rating each submission on a scale of 1-10. Every entry had multiple judges look at it and those scores were then averaged. In early March, the Best of Photojournalism committee selected cutoff points to send entries into the final round.
On March 13 and 14, 15 student volunteers gathered in empty classrooms at the University of Georgia, set up video conference feeds and welcomed in more than two dozen final round judges from around the world who then reviewed, debated and decided what represented the Best of Photojournalism.
This is the culmination of their work, a celebration of visual journalists who bore witness to a world rocked by a pandemic that made the very act of reporting from the field dangerous, regardless of the story they were covering. When the cameras came off the shoulders, editors and designers stepped in to build innovative presentations and packages to help us understand all that was happening around us.
After reviewing more than 1,500 images from the final round, the SONY Best of Show Award was given to Julio Cortez for his image of a protester carrying a U.S. flag upside down, a sign of distress, next to a burning building during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The contest is divided into five primary divisions, Still Photojournalism, Video Photojournalism, Picture Editing, Video Editing and Online Video Presentation & Innovation.
The Still Photojournalism division recognizes visual journalists who, working through the medium of still photography, tell stories that are relevant to their communities, helping them understand trends and issues so that they can make informed decisions. Judges will look at technical excellence as well as composition, but the key factor will be the journalism that is demonstrated.
Entries in this category are created and entered by individual photojournalists, there are no team categories. Entries will be submitted as individual images, stories, or portfolios, depending upon the category.
The Video Editing division recognizes the unique role of the editing process in the production of video journalism. Judges will look at the technical excellence of the final product, but the critical factor will be the journalism demonstrated and the audience’s ability to understand the story and how it relates to them.
Entries in this division are segmented to reflect the different types of editors at work – journalists who are primarily editors, journalists who are primarily photographers and solo video journalists who routinely handle both the field and editing work.
The Video Editing division is open to anyone in a storytelling environment (Broadcast, Newspaper, Digital Newsroom, etc.). Please read the descriptions carefully. This contest focuses on the craft of video editing.
The Picture Editing division recognizes the individuals and publications that practice and promote great photojournalism through great picture editing.
Picture editing is a complex and multifaceted process. Picture editors identify the best pictures and shepherd them to the public eye. They ensure that the text and pictures work together to tell a story. Picture editors work to facilitate page design and layout that engages and enlightens readers.
The act of editing itself may be a team effort, or it may be performed by an individual, but it is never completely in isolation.
Both Magazine and Newspaper categories are print-focused. Online components will be watched and considered but the print presentation is the most important piece.
For team entries, in order for the NPPA member discount to apply, the member must be the applicant.
Online Video, Presentation and Innovation
The Online Video, Presentation and Innovation division recognizes individuals and teams that excel in promoting online visual journalism through web sites, galleries, multimedia presentations and other digital delivery means. While judges will pay attention to innovative usage of technologies, the journalism demonstrated and potential for impact will be the primary determinant.
Categories are structured to allow for individual and team entries.
Categories in the Online Video Storytelling section are for self-contained, “click-to-play” video stories. These entries will be judged on the video alone and no other story components.
Categories in the Online Visual Presentation section are for whole story packages only. Emphasizing the use of visuals, each story URL will be judged on the whole user experience, including text, design, interactivity and engagement. Individual elements should be entered in Online Video Storytelling or Online Picture Editing categories.
The Video Photojournalism division recognizes visual journalists who, working through the medium of video, tell stories that are relevant to their communities, helping them understand trends and issues so that they can make informed decisions. Judges will look at technical excellence as well as storytelling, but the key factor will be the journalism that is demonstrated.
Entries in this category are primarily made by individual journalists with the exception of the Station of the Year categories. Due to the different responsibilities of the solo video journalist, there are several unique categories for them.
Photojournalists may work as either members of a newsroom staff or as independent photographers. The work must have been made with the intent of journalistic distribution, either broadcast or online – work created as sponsored content or for a company, brand, team or other entity is not allowed. Entries must have been broadcast or published online.
About the Contest
For almost 75-years, the members of the National Press Photographers Association have worked tirelessly for the benefit of photojournalists by utilizing a range of advocacy and educational programs. Through our annual Best of Photojournalism competition, we proudly recognize the work of visual storytellers around the world.
The competition is supported through a partnership with the University of Georgia’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication and presented by Sony as its primary sponsor.
Questions about the competition can be sent to [email protected]