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Do awards matter?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by valpo87, Oct 8, 2011.


Does winning awards for writing/photography really matter?

  1. Yes

    13 vote(s)
  2. No

    20 vote(s)
  1. schiezainc

    schiezainc Well-Known Member

    Awards mean absolutely nothing. I know this because I recently sat in on the judging of an awards contest and got to see, first hand, how the people judging it know no more than I do.

    That being said, it's one of those things that, if you're worth your salt, you obsess over and think about ... until you get that first one and realize how trivial it actually is.

    I won four awards this year, three of which were for writing (first place in state, third place in New England, second place in the SNA contest) and one of which was a third-place finish in page design and while they look pretty on my wall and remind me that my work is recognized by someone, they don't really mean much to anyone but me.

    Of course, when I send out resumes and introduce myself to prospective clients in my wedding photography side business, I make sure to introduce myself as an "award-winning journalist" but, deep down, I'm no different now than before I won any awards and I think that's pretty much the case for everyone.
  2. Brad Guire

    Brad Guire Member

    Such a loaded question. And I have nothing but my own anecdote to supply, but I don't feel like typing it. I merely shrug my shoulders in response.
  3. I won a couple Washington Press awards many moons ago. I think it can give you a good idea of what writing areas you are good at, say features vs. gamer vs. enterprise. And it pops more on your resume when you say you won first place for a story on such and such.

    I can say, having been to many of the national design competitions and won a few there, that winning those is high praise. It's not just getting lucky, there is amazing work to see and compete with. But that's design, I don't know the inner details of the APSE contest.
  4. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    I guess if you're young and want stuff on your resume, they can be important. If you've been around a while, won a few and have no plans to move, not really.
    As for feeling good about your work, I get a far better feeling when a reader comes up to you on the street and says "That was a great story" or some old lady comes up as you're walking into a stadium or gym, hugs you and says "We really appreciate what you wrote" for example. Those type things mean much more to me than feeling like I have to have some judge 500 miles away validate what I do.

    Another reason I don't give them much credit is about 8-10 years ago one paper in our state swept 1-3 in every category. It didn't have to be me. It didn't even have to be our paper. But you're telling me no other paper in the state could crack the top three in any category? I had to call bullshit on the whole process.
  5. PirateSports

    PirateSports Member

    I worked at a shop where winning awards was a huge deal to management, if for no other reason it was validation that even though our staff was being sliced up, we could still put out award-winning quality work. It was a real double-edged sword.
  6. I have two APSE awards. I don't mind being passed over for a job by someone who is better qualified than I am, that's just the way the world works.

    I haven't even gotten a sniff for other jobs, though, since I won them. I'm sure eventually they'll matter more to someone who is hiring, but for now it's just nice to have them on the wall.
  7. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Years ago we had a writer who, to put it bluntly, was horrible. He struggled to piece together basic 12-inch game stories, and most of his work needed heavy editing.
    However, in his short six-month stint with us, he somehow managed to write a feature story that won first place in that year's state press association contest. It baffles me to this day. It was as if Forrest Gump turned into Shakespeare.
    The lesson is, anyone can do it once. It's always nice to be recognized (especially for a piece you know is good), but if you get too caught up in the highs and lows of winning or losing one contest you should feel a little foolish. If you ever judged one of these or saw the judging at one of these, especially after lunch, you'd REALLY feel foolish.

    Now, that said, if you start winning awards year after year then you should feel good about yourself and your work. Anyone can do it once, but winning multiple awards shows you've got some sort of talent.
    I was brushing up the resume a couple weeks ago and realized I had won something in that same state press association contest each of the last 10 years. On a yearly basis I tend to shrug off awards, but seeing that cumulative body of work made me feel like I know what I'm doing in this business and put a smile on my face.
  8. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Whether justified or not, and it was only one time, I won APSE when I was 22 years old, and it absolutely changed my career arc and life. Without question.

    It really depends on the award, the timing, who's paying attention, and how much it matters to those people. And I might have found a little different path to the same things. But there is zero percent doubt that it had a huge impact for me.
  9. writingump

    writingump Member

    I've won numerous awards in my career and it didn't matter three years ago when I was dumped at my shop because of a vendetta. It also hasn't mattered other places due to the recent "right-sizing" craze chains like MG, Paxton and McClatchy -- among many -- have embraced. Salary matters more than ability at most places, unfortunately.
  10. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Well-Known Member

    It's all based on someone's opinion, usually in another part of the country. While it's nice to take something home once in awhile, it's really of little credence. I've wondered recently if it's worth the entry fee $$ my newspaper invests in it. To me that would be an early place to cut costs.
  11. Editude

    Editude Active Member

    At a previous stop many years ago, one of the reasons I lost out to an outside candidate to become SE is because he had won an APSE section award in our circulation category. As it turned out, he did a fine job with the department.
  12. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    That's perfect.

    I think the ego boost is very important, especially in these times.

    I also think that if your resume is going through a Human Resources department first, that might help it get into the second-read pile.
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