NCSMA offers critique services and All-North Carolina media contests. Award categories include Achievement, Honor, Distinction and All-North Carolina.

All-North Carolina is NCSMA’s highest rating. All-North Carolina media demonstrate excellence in all areas of journalism, combining effective writing and design with broad and diverse coverage. Tar Heels, the highest honor, are awarded to select student media from the All-North Carolina class.

Staffs may elect to enter section contests, and students may also submit entries for more than 50 individual contests.

Critique services of NCSMA offer annual opportunities for students and staffs to distinguish themselves and to receive feedback for improvement. NCSMA’s critique service is one that features a flash critique returned to attendees at the annual N.C. Scholastic Media Institute. Awards are announced at NCSMI each summer.

Click here for a description of contest categories. 

2020 Contest Entry Process

NCSMA encourages all schools in North Carolina to participate in the annual statewide media contests. No membership fee is necessary to do so.

All entries for the individual statewide contests must be submitted online.


If advisers or staffs have any questions about the updated contest entry process, feel free to contact us at ncsma@unc.eduor by phone at 919-962-4639.

Additionally, this video series is available as a resource to help with the contest entry process.

To enter, please submit the following:


  1. Complete the Media Contest Entry Form as you have in the past and include it with physical copies of newspapers, newsmagazines, yearbooks and literary magazines and URLs for broadcasts and radio/podcasts. To access the form, click the link below. Please make sure to indicate whether your staff will be participating in the section contests ($25 flat fee) and tally the number of individual entries ($5 each).


  2. Complete the online Self-Analysis Form, now online at the link below.
  1. Mail the Media Contest Entry Form and publication or URL, along with a school check, to NCSMA.
  2. Section contests are optional. Indicate whether your school is participating in the section contests. If your staff wishes to enter section contests, indicate that on the overall form and include a $25 fee in addition to the standard entry fee of $50.
  3. Now, upload all individual entries as PDFs or by submitting URLs. Instructions and forms for all sections are available below. *You cannot submit individual entries unless you have submitted the overall contest entry form.

Contest deadlines are May 1 for newspaper, radio, broadcast news and online news and June 1 for yearbook and literary magazine. These are deadlines by which we must receive everything. Judging begins immediately.

UNC Mail Services does not deliver or accept mail or packages on weekends. In order to be eligible for the statewide contests, overall entries must arrive here by shipment or by mail on or before or must be delivered by the adviser between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on June 1, to the NCSMA offices in 284 Carroll Hall.

Entries received after May 1 or June 1 deadlines will not be eligible for Tar Heel, section or individual awards. Those interested, however, may request a late critique to be returned by Jan. 1.

NCSMA staff will be available to assist staffs making online submissions, and we will post after hours availability for that purpose.

See @NCSMA or for more information.