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2021 Statewide Media Contests are now closed.

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. 

2021 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.


For help with the contest entry process, consult this video series.

If you need help combining PDFs and spreads, consult this handout.

If you need help compressing a large file, consult this handout.

If advisers or staffs have additional questions about the updated contest entry process, contact us at

To enter, please submit the following:

Note for 2021: No contest entry materials will be accepted by mail this year. Please follow instructions on how to submit everything online.

        1. Complete the Interactive PDF of the Media Contest Entry Form and email it to, or include the form with your shared folder of contest materials (Optional: Include a letter to the judges with any special circumstances or information you wish us to have). Follow instructions on how to submit your overall newspapers, newsmagazines, yearbooks, literary magazines, 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. Email or share the Media Contest Entry Form and share all contest materials with through Google Drive. For detailed instructions on payment, visit Note: We cannot receive physical publications or a physical copy of the Media Contest Entry Form.
        3. 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.
        4. 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.
    1. 5.  Submit statewide media contest payments here:


      Contest deadlines are May 15 for broadcast news, online news and radio/podcasts, and June 1 for newspaper, yearbook and literary magazine. These are deadlines by which we must receive everything. Judging begins immediately.

      In order to be eligible for the statewide contests, all entries must be submitted online by 11:59 p.m. on May 15 and June 1.

      Entries received after May 15 and June 1 deadlines will not be eligible for Tar Heel, section or individual awards.

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

      See @NCSMA or for more information.