Last call to help judge Nebraska's contest

By Richard Whiting

I’ll not travel down the dark path of Bruce Springsteen’s 1982 album “Nebraska” and its title track, but I will remind you that our compatriots, cohorts, comrades — whatever word suits you best — in Nebraska need our help.

If you did not know, members of the Nebraska Press Association are working diligently as they judge our submissions for our own state’s press awards. Jen Madden, co-exec director of our SCPA, tells me that she’s heard plenty of positive feedback about what we journos in the Palmetto State have submitted for awards to be announced mid-March in Columbia at our annual winter meeting.

She also tells me Nebraska still needs some of us to return the favor by signing up to judge various categories in their contest. In early January, at the legislative workshop the press association put together, I learned I was among only four members who had signed up to judge. As of the end of last week, Jen said she had 17 of us signed up to judge. We need about 50.

I know, I know.

Each and every one of us is busy. We probably wear the proverbial multiple hats and wonder where the time has gone at the end of each day/night. For many of us, the work doesn’t operate on a five-day cycle as we are still at it in some capacity on the weekends and days off. Or even while on vacation.

Guess what. The picture is the same in Nebraska, but their press association’s members know how important it is to help judge another state’s press entries. I ask you to do the same. Go to and register to be a judge. You can pick one or several categories. Obviously, Jen and Randall’s counterpart in Nebraska will have to shuffle the assignments around. Not everyone gets to judge headlines. Or features. Or whatever your preference might be. However, you’ll be doing your share to give our friends in Nebraska the fair shake they are giving us.

The more judges we provide, you have to figure the better the judging will be. That’s a two-way street. Think about it. Fewer judges means more categories heaped on single judges. More categories might very well translate into less time spent giving each category and each entrant for each category a proper read, a proper consideration. We don’t want this to be like the school teacher or college professor who tossed his or her students’ essays in the air and graded based on weight or how or where they landed. Besides, all the contests are digital now and there’s nothing to toss into the air.

There is another advantage to judging, if you haven’t already figured it out. You get to see and read what others in our business are doing — and doing well. Not a one of us is above stealing a good idea and you can be sure an opportunity to judge will also provide an opportunity to gain new story ideas, design ideas or even derive ideas to improve your own or your staff members’ writing.

C’mon, sign up! Besides, couldn’t you use the diversion from the national political (expletive) show anyway?

 Richard S. Whiting is executive editor of the Index-Journal in Greenwood. He also serves as President and FOI Chair of the S.C. Press Association.