Competition Guidelines

Entry Period: Deadline extended to October 15, 2023

Note: Please read the following requirements carefully, as any entry that does not fully meet all requirements will be disqualified.

General Guidelines

  1. Entries must have been FIRST published or distributed between OCTOBER 1, 2022 and SEPTEMBER 30, 2023. Content that was previously submitted in a NATJA Awards Competition, regardless of whether it placed or not, does not qualify for re-submission.
  2. All articles, photographs, and other content must be human-generated. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) to generate any content submitted for award consideration is prohibited and may result in disqualification from the competition. The use of AI-powered features in basic photo processing, such as sharpening and noise reduction, are allowed so long as AI is not used to significantly alter the original image.
  3. Membership into NATJA is not required to submit. For current NATJA members who submit at the reduced member rate, membership must be in good standing through March 31, 2024, to be eligible for an award and/or prize.
  4. Complete and submit an Entry Form for each entry per category.
  5. Everyone can submit entries using the entry form starting on Page 9 of the downloadable Guidelines & Entry Form. Online submissions are also accepted through the Online Submission Portal.
  6. A fee is required per entry, per category, per the FEES schedule on Page 4 of the downloadable Entry Guidelines & Form or on the Entry Fees page. NATJA members receive special entry fees.
  7. Multiple submissions can be made per category. Content may also be submitted in multiple categories.
  8. Review each category and ensure that the content meets the qualifications for the category in which it is being submitted. Content not appropriate to the category may be disqualified from the competition at the discretion of the judges.
  9. Once submitted, there are no refunds and entries are non-returnable.
  10. Publications and individuals submitting entries on behalf of a journalist/photographer must provide contact information for the journalist/photographer in the JOURNALIST AND/OR PHOTOGRAPHER INFORMATION section.
  11. Publications that are NATJA members at the Publication level and are in good standing may submit up to five (5) entries by staff journalists/photographers at the NATJA media member rate. Additional entries, for staff and freelance contributors, may be submitted at the non-member rate.
  12. Editors with an individual NATJA Media Membership may not submit on behalf of non-member journalists at the “NATJA Media Member” rate. These submissions must be made at the “Non-Member Media Rate.” However, editors who are members can submit on behalf of writers who are NATJA dues paying members at the member rate.
  13. Online content that is behind a paywall must include a hard copy of the article, photograph, book, podcast (on flash/USB drive), video (on flash/USB drive), etc. Content that requires payment to access may be subject to disqualification if NATJA is unable to obtain a physical or digital copy.
  14. Photography submissions should include either a link or copy of the article or publication or a link to the social media post in which the photo was published. Submission of photography without reference to the article, post,  or publication in which it originally appeared may be subject to disqualification.
  15. For content with 3 or more journalists/content creators in the byline, a minimum of two contributors must be NATJA members to qualify for the member rate.
  16. Foreign publication submissions must be translated into the English language.
  17. By submission, the submitter grants NATJA permission to publish the submission, in whole or part, in conjunction with any publication noting, commenting on, or discussing the NATJA Awards Competition winners. In any such publication, credit shall be noted as provided on the entry form.
  18. Once an entry and all corresponding materials are submitted, NATJA will confirm receipt of entry submission via email.

Online Entry Form Guidelines

  1. The Online Submission Portal is open to members and non-members. The Portal is accessible here.
  2. For Canadian Submitters: The Online Submission Portal gives you the option to complete the Entry Form and pay for your entries in Canadian dollars. Make sure to select the correct form from the Online Submission Portal.
  3. Scanned copies of articles, submitted as PDF, PNG, or JPG file types, are acceptable.
  4. Each entry must provide contact information for the submitter and the journalist/photographer. Publications that submit on behalf of journalists will be responsible for notifying the journalist in the event that their work places in the competition.
  5. You are required to complete all information marked with “(Required)” on the form.
  6. You can submit more than one body of work to the competition using one form. For example, you are submitting two stories, each in different categories, and need to complete an entry form for each (see below for how to do this). Your total for all your entries will be automatically calculated. You can also submit an unlimited number of submission forms through the Online Submission Portal.
  7. To submit more than one body of work, in the “Your Entries” section, click on “Add Entry”. In the window that displays, accurately enter all the details pertaining to that body of work. Once you have filled out all the fields, click on “Add Entry” at the bottom to save your submission. You will return to the main form, where you can click on “Add Entry” to submit additional work.
  8. Once you have added all your entries to the main form, you will see your total balance.
  9. Before submitting, double-check that all your information is accurate and complete and that your total balance matches your own calculations. If you need to revise any portion of your submission, click on “Previous” to return to the previous page and make edits.
  10. From the preview page, you can print or PDF your submission form to keep a complete copy for your records.
  11. After previewing and reviewing your form, click on “Next” to go to the Payment page. Enter your billing information, and once done, click on “Submit.” If there are no errors, you will see a confirmation message.
  12. You will receive a receipt for your submission via email to the address provided under “Your Email.” Please make sure to check your spam folder. If you do not receive the receipt, you can contact NATJA at

PDF Form Guidelines

  1. Members and non-members can submit to the NATJA Awards Competition using the downloadable Guidelines & Entry Form (PDF).
  2. Photocopies of articles and the entry form are acceptable. Photocopies must be legible.
  3. Write LEGIBLY when filling out the form. Information provided on the form by the submitter will be reflected when winners and finalists are announced.
  4. Each entry must provide contact information for the submitter and the journalist/photographer, if different than the person submitting. Publications that submit on behalf of journalists will be responsible for notifying the journalist in the event that their work places in the competition.
  5. All applicable Entry Information must be provided on the entry form.
  6. Each entry must identify a single category name and number.
  7. Enter ONLY ONE SUBMISSION ON EACH ENTRY FORM. For additional entries, please use additional entry forms.
  8. Once the entry form is completed and all materials are gathered, the submission can be sent to NATJA via email to or via mail or a carrier such as FedEx or UPS. If submitting more than one entry, you can send all entries and materials in one package. NATJA recommends tracking your package to ensure its timely delivery.

Membership Options

You do not have to be a NATJA Member to be eligible to submit to the NATJA Awards Competition. However, only current members in good standing are eligible for the discounted entry fee.

Joining NATJA

New applicants must be qualified, active media. To join NATJA, click here and fill out the application.

Entry Deadline

Deadline for all submissions: Extended to October 15, 2023. Mailed-in entries must be postmarked by this date. Digital submissions can be entered via email to by October 15, 2023, 11:59pm Pacific Time. The Online Submission Portal will be open until October 30, 2023, 11:59pm Pacific Time.


All categories will be judged by a panel of individuals selected by NATJA. Judges are comprised of media and marketing professionals and faculty from the communication and journalism schools at Syracuse University, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and Southern Methodist University. The judging panel may select more than one award per category but reserves the right not to award in any given category. 

Entry/Award Note

In the event of errors, discrepancies, challenges, or other issues, the panel of judges and/or NATJA Advisory Board will have full rights and authority to make any appropriate decision, changes, or adjustments to entries, categories, or awards.

Whenever possible, NATJA will share with entrants, upon request, any notes provided by judges with regard to their entry. Comments are strictly at the discretion of judges.

Announcement of Winners

Winners will be announced February 2024. The announcement of winners is circulated to all competition entrants, in addition to media outlets, NATJA members, and mailing lists. Award distribution will be at the sole discretion of the judging panel and/or the NATJA Advisory Board.

Awards & Prizes

Special Recognitions

  • NATJA will recognize the following special awards: Travel Journalist of the Year, Photographer of the Year, Destination of the Year and Magazine of the Year. The following point system will be used for most categories to determine the recipients of the special awards:

One extra point will be awarded to Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners in the following categories:

The qualifying categories for Travel Journalist of the Year are 100 – 102, 120 – 128, 142, 160 – 161, and 301.

The qualifying categories for Photographer of the Year are 101, 140 – 141 and 150 – 155.

The qualifying categories for Destination of the Year are 200 – 202.

For Magazine of the Year, the publication must be submitted in category 300 – Travel Magazine to be considered. The qualifying categories for Magazine of the Year are 100 – 102, 120 – 128, 150 – 153, 161, and 300.

  • Travel Journalist of the Year, Photographer of the Year, Destination of the Year, and Magazine of the Year will be provided with a special award.

Category Awards

  • NATJA’s intention is to award Gold, Silver, and Bronze in each category.
  • Honorable Mentions may also be named for individual categories at the discretion of the judges.
  • Digital certificates are distributed by email to Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners and Honorable Mentions.
  • All winners are permitted to display the NATJA “Winner’s Seal” on reprints, dust jackets, covers, and websites/blogs.
  • Award winners in Media categories (categories 100 – 161, and category 301) may be eligible to receive a cash prize in the following amounts:
  • A maximum of three prizes will be given to any individual with multiple awards in the Media categories.

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