SD-SPJ Accepting 2021 Contest Entries



The 2021 SPJ San Diego Area Journalism Competition will recognize outstanding work by San Diego-area student and professional journalists published or broadcast during the calendar year 2020. Contest entries will be accepted Thursday April 1 through Monday, May 3. Those submitted by 9 p.m. PST on Monday, April 26, 2021, will get $5 off their entry fees in every category but our top and special awards. Student rates do not change.

This year’s Distinguished Coverage Award will honor stories about the COVID-19 pandemic or calls for racial equality in 2020 (participants must choose one topic or the other, not both.) Did your outlet cover it best? Each outlet should submit its best story, series, or show, along with a 500-word essay on why the coverage merits recognition. This award is open to all outlets and the fee to enter is $50.

We are also accepting applications for five $1,000 San Diego SPJ scholarships and one $1,000 Agnes Diggs scholarship from the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation. We look forward to handing these scholarships out to eligible local journalism students.

This year, San Diego SPJ is proud to announce a new $1,000 scholarship award. 

The Bradley J. Fikes Scholarship honors the late reporter’s exemplary career, who wrote for the Daily Transcript, North County Times, and San Diego Union-Tribune. In recognition of Bradley’s contributions to science and technology journalism, preference will be given to applicants interested in these areas of reporting and can explain so on their application.

Winners of the awards and scholarships will be announced this summer during either a virtual or in-person event, depending on the pandemic restrictions.

Submit your entries using the BetterBNC Media Awards Platform. To register or enter the contest online now, open a new browser window or tab to Keep this window open to refer to as you submit your awards.

If you have entered other contests on this platform before, either for last year’s SD-SPJ competition or for the SD Press Club awards, you are already in the system, and you just have to ask to enter the 2021 SPJ awards contest.

Below are directions for preparing and submitting entries. If you have questions, please contact Terry Williams at 619-743-3669 or

All contest entries must be submitted online (except for entries in the College Media Best Newspaper category, which must be mailed and postmarked by the contest deadline to SPJ to P.O. Box 880482, San Diego, CA 92168-0482). All entries must be entered by or on behalf of the individuals who produced the work and must identify those individuals.

Best of luck to all of our applicants!

How to Enter

Contest Guidelines and Categories 2021

Scholarship Details

FAQs 2021

ICYMI: Watch Our First Media Literacy Event

On March 15, the San Diego Library held the first in a series of four panel discussions focused on media literacy. The event was organized by the SPJ San Diego, the San Diego Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists San Diego-Tijuana Chapter and the Online News Association San Diego Chapter. The panel featured Chris Megerian (Los Angeles Times), Kate Morrissey (San Diego Union-Tribune), Jean Guerrero (author of Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump and the White Nationalist Agenda), Ishmael Estrada (NBC7 San Diego) and Alex Presha (ABC News) who joined moderator Matt Hall (San Diego Union-Tribune) to discuss: “Where Do We Go from Here? Life After the Trump White House.”

Topics ranged from vetting sources to the importance of newsroom diversity to how journalists can earn and maintain public trust. It was an impressive kick-off for a fascinating series of discussions. The next panel, “How Watchdog Journalism Shapes Your Life,” is scheduled for May 20, so mark your calendars.

You can watch our first media literacy panel of the year here.

EVENT: Where Do We Go from Here? Life After the Trump White House

Two months into the Biden administration, journalists look back at the Trump era, how he changed the media landscape and what’s next for journalism.

Date: Monday, March 15, 2021, 6 p.m.
Event Registration:
Moderator: Matt Hall, editorial page editor, San Diego Union-Tribune; president, Society of Professional Journalists 
Ishmael Estrada, managing editor, NBC 7 San Diego  Prior to joining NBC 7, Ismael Estrada covered stories around the world as a producer for Anderson Cooper 360 and an investigative producer at WMAQ Chicago. He is a two-time Peabody Award winner.
Kate Morrisey, reporter, San Diego Union-Tribune  Kate Morrisey has covered a wide range of immigration topics for the Union-Tribune, including asylum, H-1B visas, visa queues, immigration court and immigration detention. She has a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. 
Alex Presha, reporter, ABC News Alex Presha works for ABC News’ Washington Bureau as a multi-platform reporter. Prior to joining ABC News, he worked at  NBC 7 San Diego as the station’s political reporter and host of its political affairs program, “Politically Speaking.” Alex has also held producing roles at MSNBC, NowThis News, WNBC and the Grio.
Jean Guerrero, investigative journalist and author
Jean Guerrero is the author of Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump and the White Nationalist Agenda, published in 2020 by HarperCollins. Her first book, Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir, won a PEN Literary Award. She is an Emmy-winning border reporter, contributing to NPR and the PBS NewsHour.
Chris Megerian, reporter, Los Angeles Times Chris Megerian covers the White House for the Los Angeles Times. Prior to that, he worked at the Times Sacramento bureau where he reported on Gov. Jerry Brown and climate change policy. 

Event Organizers: San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists San Diego-Tijuana Chapter, Online News Association San Diego Chapter and San Diego Public Library

SD-SPJ Surveying Diversity in San Diego Newsrooms

Newsroom staffing diversity plays a significant role in ensuring that a newsroom’s coverage reflects the communities it serves.

That’s why the San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SD-SPJ) is beginning an important project: surveying local newsrooms about staff demographics. 

With the support of other local journalism organizations, such as the San Diego Association of Black Journalists and the San Diego chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, SD-SPJ seeks to compile demographic data from local newsrooms, as well as information on what newsrooms are doing to increase diversity. SD-SPJ has sent requests to all San Diego print, digital, radio and television newsrooms for this information.

We’re conducting this survey to get a snapshot of San Diego’s newsroom demographics, which we hope will provide a benchmark for further research. While nationwide surveys have found that newsrooms are more diverse than in the past, there’s still work to do. For example, a 2019 survey by the Radio Television Digital News Association found that “the percentage of women and people of color in TV newsrooms reached record highs,” but a 2018 Pew Research Center study found that newsroom employees are “less diverse” than U.S. workers overall. 

We understand this is a difficult time for many journalism organizations. Still, we feel this survey is timely and can be a valuable resource for newsrooms as the economy improves and hiring returns to normal. 

Our plan is to publicly release the data, including a list of all participating newsrooms and a list of all newsrooms we’ve contacted. We will, ideally, hold a virtual event to discuss the findings. 

We’ve also asked newsrooms that are unwilling or unable to complete our survey to please let us know why.

You can see the questions we have asked newsrooms to answer by clicking here.