Best of Colorado Individual Student Contests

The 2017-18 contest site opens March 20, 2018. You will be able to upload contest entries at any time from that date until Tuesday, April 10, at 10 p.m MDT. Please consider doing some advance preparation (choosing potential entries, creating a file for copies of files, etc.).

You are encouraged to read this post all the way through prior to preparing your entries, and to download and save/print the various forms you will find linked to this post.

We have contracted with a contest hosting site and are constantly working to make it even easier for you to enter our Best of Colorado contests.  The good news is that all the preparation work, creating PDFs, etc., that you are used to, is still in effect. You will still upload PDFs or links. So please keep working on preparing your entries. And please note the April 10 deadline (10 p.m. MDT), which should give enough to time for everyone to work around spring break (and just before the Spring National Journalism Convention in San Francisco). As always, schools will receive award certificates early in May.

Each CSMA member medium may enter ONE submission per contest category, though up to ten students can be listed as contributing to a single contest entry.

The contest website is www.betternewspapercontest.com

Your initial login password is Contest1 (and it is case-sensitive) UNLESS you entered the 2016-17 Best of Colorado contest. If you entered last spring, your password is still good. Forgot your password? The site has a prompt to help you. If all else fails, contact [email protected] or call 303-550-4755 as soon as possible.

After March 1, it will be helpful to download this Word document, designed to give contest entrants a step-by-step list to help make entering our contests as free of stress as possible. Please remember that advisers should always try to log on to the contest site as CONTEST MANAGERS. That will save a lot of angst.

Our individual contests in yearbook, newspaper and video media, are called the Best of Colorado awards, and each category has a few changes most years in categories and category details, so please review those. 

STEP 1: General rules 2017-18 for the contests should be downloaded first. THIS DOCUMENT PROVIDES IMPORTANT DETAILS ON HOW TO NAVIGATE OUR CONTEST SITE. Please note that websites should enter newspaper categories or may choose to enter select video categories, as well (and this may require submitting entries in both video media and newspaper – contact Jack Kennedy for details). Please contact CSMA at [email protected] if you have questions. He can also add a Video Broadcast contest link to your school, upon request, to handle your website videos.

We have estimated Class I, II and III winners by relative enrollments of entering schools, attempting to equalize the numbers of schools in each classification. Video media entries are judged in one classification, and all middle school yearbooks are in one category, regardless of school size.

STEP 2: Familiarize yourself with our various contest categories (there have been some minor changes for 2018). The list of categories for each medium can be downloaded for news publications (whether newspapers, magazines, or websites – please note that if a school has current memberships in BOTH news publication and website, EACH of those media may enter one category (for instance, Kenerski HS may enter a breaking news story from its print newspaper as well as a different breaking news story from its website), for yearbooks, and for video media. You may want to share some examples of our previous individual yearbook and newspaper winners (with brief commentaries) on our Pinterest boards.

Please note the Yearbook Category: Chronological Coverage. To avoid confusion, this one category requires THREE consecutive chronological spreads. Yearbook coverage trends continually evolve, and UMBRELLA coverage should be entered in this category (again, with THREE consecutive spreads).

IMPORTANT: When you are entering one photo and caption from a spread or page of photos, our judges need some indicator of which photo to analyze. If there is any doubt at all, we prefer that you draw a red box, either in InDesign prior to exporting your PDF, or using Acrobat Professional’s drawing tools directly on your PDF. You may also clearly point the judge to a specific photo in the comments box on the entry form.

When entering a complete spread or page, or when there can be no question about what the judge is to look for, don’t worry about drawing a red box around the entry.

STEP 3: When preparing PDFs, please choose SMALLEST FILE SIZE when prompted. Uploading all 100MB of your yearbook cover slows down the system and does not improve the art on the computer screen, where all judging will take place.

Here’s a cool free site that can take your PDFs and condense them in such a way that they still look great to judges on a computer screen.

IMPORTANT: We highly recommend at least sending a test PDF to the contest site as soon as you can to avoid chaos on April 10. Trying out the site early also allows us to work through issues with school Internet filters, which occasionally block the site’s automated emails. The site sends a verification email after the first entry from your medium, so please look for that right away (it may end up in a SPAM folder). You will not be able to continue uploading entries until you have verified that YOU are the account holder.

Important: If you do not receive the confirmation email from the system, and do not see it in your SPAM folder, consider logging in and changing the email address to a personal one not afflicted by school filters. No other issue has caused as many problems as this one. As always, contact Jack Kennedy at [email protected] (or 303-550-4755) if you encounter difficulties of any kind. The contest site offers a HELP TICKET, as well. Don’t hesitate to submit one of those.

Entries for print news, website and video media need to have been published/broadcast in the period August 1, 2016 – April 11, 2017, while yearbook entries must be scheduled for publication in the current book.

Again, a medium may enter as few or many individual categories as desired.

You can find visual and verbal winners from recent years on our Pinterest site here.


Colorado Student Media Association
Best of Colorado Individual Student Contests