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The Sacramento Press Journalism Open 2012 begins Jan. 1

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to publish your first article, consider the rewards of doing it on The Sacramento Press.

Last year we gave out thousands in cash prizes to winners of The Sacramento Press Journalism Open, and we’re ready to do it again.

This is the third year that we’ve hosted The Sacramento Press Journalism Open. The contest is pro-am, meaning writers of all skill levels are welcome to enter.

If you aren’t familiar with The Sacramento Press, we’re a hyperlocal online newspaper that focuses on community news. We aim to be the best source for local news and we would like you to help us achieve that by sharing your stories. No reporter knows more than you when it comes to issues affecting your neighborhood, your stance on why your daughter’s school should stay open, or an event you witnessed firsthand.

More than 1,700 people have written articles on The Sacramento Press since the site launched in October 2008. We look forward to seeing many new bylines – including yours – as the contest heats up.

We awarded prizes to 12 individuals last year, and this year we have $2,000 in prizes to give away.

The winning article for the Journalism Open 2011 was about the state of Sacramento’s bridges and was written by Isaac Gonzalez.

To see the list of last year’s winners, click here.

Before you publish your story, we highly recommend submitting your story for copy editing. We offer free copy editing to catch spelling errors and/or grammatical mistakes in your articles. To submit your story for copy editing, email the story to journalism@sacramentopress.com. Your edited story will be returned to you within 24-48 hours.*

*Depending on the volume of submissions being sent in for copy editing, it might take longer than the normal 24-hour turnaround time.

If you have questions about the copy editing process, email support@sacramentopress.com.

Publishing an article on The Sacramento Press is easier than you might think. To start writing, simply go to the top of this page and click the "Sign Up" button and follow the prompts. You will be asked for information and to accept our terms of use agreement. After you are signed up, click the "Write" button at the top of the page, create a Storyline and start writing.

We suggest that you write your story in a separate writing application (i.e. Word) and then, when you’ve finished and had it copy edited, cut and paste it into our site.

Important: Every story you enter/post on the site must be tagged "Open2012" in the tag section. Just write those words in the space provided under tags. You should also add tags to you story, especially choosing one of our “section” tags – Culture, Business, Politics and Sports – depending on which ones fits the story best.

Hit "Publish," and you have posted your first story on The Sacramento Press. You’ve also been entered in The Sacramento Press Journalism Open!

To enter a photo that is accompanying someone else’s story, tag the story with the following: open2012yourname (example: open2012JoshRamsey).

Remember, no story is too small. Are you concerned about the safety of your neighborhood park? Do you have insight into the upcoming City Council election? Have a favorite landmark that you’d like to share? Write about it on The Sacramento Press and you could be walking away with the $600 grand prize.

So, what are you waiting for? Commit acts of journalism and be a part of the growing community of citizen journalists.

CATEGORIES & CRITERIA FOR JUDGING

Entries will be judged by our editorial staff, and that judgment will be subjective. But we will be using criteria for what we think good journalism is. Among those criteria are:

  • Accuracy: Facts, spelling and quotes should be correct. Double-check everything and use your computer’s spell check.
  • Writing style: Writing should be clear, concise and enjoyable.
  • Local focus: Stories should be set in Sacramento, Yolo, Placer or El Dorado counties.
  • Sourcing: Include a minimum of two living, breathing sources in your story. Quotes from people who know what you’re writing about will always enliven and improve your story. Aim to include different perspectives. Wikipedia, About.com, press releases and book or newspaper excerpts are not acceptable sources.
  • Impact: Your story will also be judged on how readers react in the conversation on The Sacramento Press, as well as how it is received in the real world.
  • Mostly though, we’ll judge entries based on how interesting they are, if they’re news or a new approach to an old story, how well-researched they are, the quality of the writing and the quotes.

Stories can be any length, but they must be original nonfiction about the Sacramento area.

Stories may not be re-posts from blogs or other publications, print or online.

Finally, we will give extra weight to high-quality photographs, either accompanying stories or standing on their own with explanatory captions.

RULES

To be eligible, stories must be posted on the site, by you (using your real name), between 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2012 and 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 31, 2012. We will be able to help you post either over the phone or in our office.*

*Appointments must be made for in-office help. Contact support@sacramentopress.com to arrange an appointment.

You must live or work in one of our four home counties listed above, and be at least 18 years of age. High school students under the age of 18 can enter if they have a parental consent form.*

*Parental consent forms must be signed in person by a parent or legal guardian of the minor entering an article. To arrange for this, please email support@sacramentopress.com.

You may enter as many different stories as you like, but please enter/post each story only once! Make sure to tag it "Open2012" in the tag section or it will not be counted as a submission. There is no charge to enter.

Be sure to reread and double check what you’ve written; once it is published on the site, it cannot be modified.

PRIZES

  • First Prize $600
  • Second Prize $400
  • Third Prize $200
  • Three $100 prizes for honorable mentions
  • $500 in prizes awarded to best photos

Entries will be judged by The Sacramento Press editorial and community outreach departments. All decisions will be final. Limit one prize per entrant. Winners will be announced on the site, Feb. 13, 2012.

Addendum: You must be 14 years of age or older to publish an article on The Sacramento Press and to enter the Journalism Open.

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