AHCJ’s health reporting contest starts — and ends! — earlier this year. You can submit work starting … today. 

There are two types of journalists in the world: those who wait until the last minute (i.e., most of us), and those who work ahead (and you all are also probably “morning people,” I’m guessing).  

For those who work ahead: the 2022 health journalism contest is now open for entries!

For everyone else: Even if you usually wait for — and need — the motivating fire of a looming deadline, and naturally have no plans to even think about the AHCJ contest for months — you still need to know that THIS TIME AROUND THE DEADLINES HAVE CHANGED. 

The AHCJ contest will close on January 5, 2023

Typically, the contest deadline falls around the third week of January, so you have some time after the holidays to prepare and upload your entries. But not this year. The submission deadline will be on Friday, Jan. 5 at 5 p.m. ET. Here’s a helpful mnemonic: “1/5 at 5.” 

But why is this happening? No particularly dramatic reason. It’s not because the pandemic, or someone’s wedding or an auspicious horoscope, it’s just scheduling and logistics. In 2023, AHCJ’s typical run of events, trainings and conferences is shifting a bit, and that means the contest needs to wrap up a few weeks earlier to give our volunteer judges and staff time to process all entries.  

How can I possibly cope? It will be fine.  Remember, you’d probably wait until three days before the deadline anyway. Honestly. 

Will there be any flexibility because of holiday travel, or hangovers? Nope. But you can always enter earlier. Try to motivate yourself with the early-bird deadline. It’s Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. ET. You’ll get $25 off the entry fee. 

Can you somehow make this easier? Yes! The contest committee has been hard at work simplifying and streamlining the entry process. 

How? We’ve removed six short essay-style questions from our entry forms, the ones that in previous years asked you to explain what sources or documents you used, what impact or results the reporting had, and so forth.  

Instead, you will have the option to include a short cover letter sharing whatever you want the judges to know about the entry. Or you can let the journalism speak for itself. You decide. 

We believe this change will shorten the time you’ll spend preparing and uploading your entry and will better align our submission process with that used in other journalism contests. 

Is there anything else that’s changing in this year’s contest? We’ve clarified the rules for the Student Category. As in the past, the entrant must be a student. But the entries themselves need to be journalism that was first produced for a class, a student-led publication, or a university-based outlet.

How do I enter? Go to healthjournalism.org/awards for an overview of the categories, fees, and deadlines, and links to our Rules and FAQ. 

What could I win? First place comes with a $500 check, a framed certificate, and two free hotel nights (and free registration) at the annual AHCJ conference in the spring. 

Can I be a judge? Yes, please. It’s fun, gratifying and inspiring. Judges are still allowed to enter the contest themselves but will be assigned to judge a different category. If you’re a current (or retired) journalist or journalism instructor (from any beat), you can volunteer by emailing Carrie Feibel at cfeibel@npr.org.

Good luck! 

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