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NNA Entry Instructions

The inaugural INN Nonprofit News Awards, or NNAs, honor excellence in journalism, leadership and community service across the field of nonprofit news. These awards are open to INN full or provisional members in good standing. (If you have a question about whether your organization is in good standing, email

The deadline for entries is Friday, Sept. 10, 2021 at midnight ET/9 p.m. PT. Categories are for work published, broadcast or produced between July 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021. (A series published between those dates that starts before or ends after the contest period is eligible.)

Submissions to the NNAs will be entered through INN members should designate a contact person (the Contestant Manager) to manage their entries. This Contestant Manager will also be able to designate others to submit entries as an Authorized Entrant. (Instructions on how to do so will be provided to the Contestant Manager.)

As this is the first INN Nonprofit News Awards, all entrants will create a login on the contest site, even if they have used before for other contests. Users will use the default password “bnc” to set up their accounts and then will be prompted to change their password to one of their own choosing.

There are five awards categories that are divided into three tiers – small, medium and large. Choose the tier that corresponds with your organization’s revenue in FY20.

Members should enter only the category for their size tier. If you have questions about your tier, please contact

Members are welcome to submit as many entries as they wish for the journalism categories, unless noted otherwise. Entry fees are per entry, based on budget tier: Small ($10); Medium ($15); and Large ($20), unless noted otherwise.

Journalism Categories

Best Investigative Journalism Award

Honors a single story or series that uncovered significant and impactful news based on the reporters’ own investigation and which advances and serves the public interest. Judges will consider the impact of the work through subsequent coverage or resulting policy changes.

Insight Award for Explanatory Journalism

Honors a single story or a series of explanatory reporting that provides insight and understanding of a significant and complex subject. Entries may include stories/images/multimedia that are part of a single series, or up to three stories and accompanying images/multimedia from coverage of a single beat.

Breaking Barriers Award

Honors reporting that brought new understanding to an issue or topic affecting people or communities that are historically underrepresented, disadvantaged or marginalized, resulting in impactful change. Entries may include single stories, stories/images/multimedia that are part of a series, or up to three stories and accompanying images/multimedia from coverage of a single beat.

Community Champion Award

Honors an INN member organization that made a significant contribution to the well-being of its community through a journalism-centered project or service.

Game-Changer Award

For an organization that produced an innovative idea or practice that led to success in revenue, audience growth or sustainable financial support of news.

Overall Categories

Startup of the Year

Honors a young organization (operating for less than 3 years) for establishing strong journalism and the revenue, reader and community support to sustain it. (One award across size tiers; entry fee $15.)

Journalism Partner of the Year Award

Honors a news-oriented project or ongoing partnership that exemplifies the culture of sharing and cooperation in nonprofit news and expands the impact of its journalism. Nominations may include a member’s partnership with other newsrooms (regardless of INN membership) or other organizations, or its work to share data, specialized reporting or other shared resources with other members. (One award across size tiers; entry fee $15.)

Emerging Leader of the Year

Honors an individual with fewer than five years in executive leadership who is building a sustainable organization, models positive and innovative leadership, demonstrates a strong commitment to equity and inclusion, and a deep commitment to serving their community: An emerging luminary in the field. Nominations should be submitted with comments or an attached document in support of the nomination from the member’s executive director, publisher or similar executive leader. Nominees are not required to have participated in INN’s Emerging Leaders program. One nomination per member. (One award across size tiers; entry fee $15.)

INN Nonprofit News Lifetime Achievement Award

Honors an individual who has made significant, innovative and lasting contributions to the field of independent, nonprofit news, reflecting the spirit of INN’s creation. Nominations should include comments or an attached document describing the nominee and their contributions to the field. INN members may nominate any person of their choosing; affiliation with the nominating member organization is not required. The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented at the discretion of the Institute for Nonprofit News. One nomination per member. (One award across size tiers; no entry fee.)



The contest is open to INN member organizations. Work published/broadcast/distributed by INN members is eligible. Work created by freelancers for an INN member newsroom is eligible. Newsrooms must be members of INN in good standing on the date of submitting their entries.

Contest Period:

Size Tiers and Entry Fees:

Entry Guidance:


Contestant Instructions

Entries to the INN Nonprofit News Awards will be submitted using the BetterBNC Media Awards Platform. Below are directions for preparing and submitting entries. If you have questions, please contact INN Member Network Director Michelle Morgante at or 209-259-0007.

IMPORTANT: BetterBNC is optimized for the Google Chrome browser; and Firefox for PC and Macintosh/Apple. Please have a recent version downloaded and installed for the best contest experience.

The deadline for all entries is Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, at midnight ET or 9 p.m. PT.

Logging In

1. Go to

2. Click “Contestant Login” on the top menu bar.

3. Select the appropriate contestant type:

a) If you are the single point of contact for your organization, select

Contestant Manager, then skip to “4. Contestant Manager Login”. 

b) If you have received an email (from your organization’s Contestant Manager, for example) authorizing you to submit entries on behalf of your media organization, select “Authorized Entrant” on the login page, then skip to “5. Authorized Entrant Login” below,

4. Contestant Manager Login:

a) Select the contest “2021 INN Nonprofit News Awards”

b) Select your Media Organization (If you do not see your organization listed, contact

c) Enter your password**

d) Click “Login”

**Note: If it is your first time logging in to your account, use the temporary password: bnc (lower case). After you log in using that temporary password, the system will require you to update your password. Going forward (including future years) you will log in with the password you set. If the designated Contestant Manager should leave your media organization, please email to have the contact info in your account updated.

5. Authorized Entrant Login:

a) Select the contest “2021 INN Nonprofit News Awards”

b) Select your Media Organization

c) Enter your email address

d) Enter your password

e) Click “Login”

Submitting Entries

1. Click “Submit Entry” from the Manage Entries page

2. Select a Division (group of Categories)

3. Select a Category

4. Enter the entry headline or title

5. Add entry content (may vary by category)

a) To add web/audio/video content, copy and paste the content’s URL address into the provided Website URL field. To host your content online, either upload it to a free streaming content website (e.g.YouTube) or talk to your IT person about adding it to your stations/publications website. Make sure the content will be accessible online throughout the duration of the contest and awards process.

Here are some examples of free streaming content websites where you can upload audio and video content:

– Audio:,

– Video:,

b) IMPORTANT: Please be sure that items are not behind a paywall or a password-protected area. If they are, you must provide username/password info in the Comments section of your entry.

Judges may disqualify your entry if work samples are inaccessible.

c) Some categories require contestants to describe projects or particular people and their accomplishments. Such submissions can be made either through the comments section of the category or with digital file attachments (other than audio/video). To submit such attachments, follow these steps: Click “Browse”, navigate to the desired file, and then click “Open”. Allowed file types are PDF, DOC/DOCX, TXT, JPG, GIF, and PNG. To upload additional attachments to a single entry, click the “Browse and Attach More Files” button. BetterBNC will allow up to about a 20MB file, however, we suggest keeping your files around 5MB in case the judges have a slow connection. For files larger than 20MB, you can click the “RealView” icon on the Submit Entry page to create a free account, upload your files, and then copy and paste the URL into the URL field on the Submit Entry page. You may also use a similar 3rd-party website that provides hosting services (,, etc.)

6. Add Comments

7. Enter Credits

8. Click “Submit Entry”

Paying Entry Fees

1. When all entries are submitted, log in to your account

2. Navigate to the Manage Entries page

3. Click “Calculate Entry Fees”

4. Follow the on screen instructions to pay for your entries

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