CAJ Awards – rules of entry and other important information

Entry procedures:

Entries must have been first published or broadcast in either official language by a Canadian-based media outlet within the previous calendar year. Entries welcomed from journalists working outside of Canada, provided the location of first broadcast / publication originated within Canada. Proof of publication / broadcast meeting these criteria, if not ascertainable from the entry itself, may be requested by the awards committee.

The CAJ Awards wants to recognize your best work and we acknowledge it can be challenging at times to pull out a few items from a body of work that includes many different elements. We hope the following criteria, in addition to what’s listed with each category, can be helpful in determining what is chosen for submission.

  • Entry composition is defined online for each category. Please do not overburden the judges with an unending entry. Careful consideration of which elements are included with an entry that effectively demonstrate your best work is encouraged.
  • Material produced from the same body of research cannot be submitted in multiple categories (ex: Same topic and sources feed items published in print and broadcast on television— only eligible for submission in one category). Entrants are encouraged to carefully weigh what they’ve produced and which elements most powerfully and effectively tell the story and submit the appropriate pieces into the suitable category.
  • No part of any entry can be submitted in another category. No part of any team entry can be submitted by an individual in the same or another category. Entrants are asked to carefully consider and weigh the categories before submitting.
  • NEW! A cover letter must be submitted with each entry. It should detail what circumstances led to the publication / broadcast of the story. It should also outline impact, change or action resulting from the publication and/or broadcast of the entry. It is useful to have information on the resources available to the journalist(s) completing the piece(s) submitted in the entry. Cover letters should not be endorsements or testimonials. Judges want to know how and why you did the work and its impact.
  • If submitting a team entry, please include the names of all those who were part of the team as part of your entry – if it was a large team, please submit the list separately from the entry if required. We will not recognize finalist team members whose names were not included when the team entry was finalized and submitted, so please ensure all those deserving of credit for the entry are listed on submission and payment.

Questions regarding these entry procedures can be submitted to the attention of the CAJ awards committee via e-mail.


Fees remain unchanged. CAJ members (whether entering as individuals or as teams) continue to receive substantial discounts over non-members when entering the CAJ awards program. CAJ student members are eligible to submit in the student category at no cost. Become a member today!

Please note the fee structure (all fees include taxes):

  • Member fee – $30
  • Non-member fee – $110
  • Student award entries for CAJ student members – FREE
  • Student member entry fee, other categories – $25
  • Team entry where all are CAJ members – $60
  • Team entry including non-CAJ members – $200
  • Student team entries — please contact the awards committee
* Student award entries for non-members (from individuals) are not permitted. Student members are welcome to apply in other categories at the $25 or team rates. Students who are not members are encouraged to become members at a cost of $20.

Judging procedures:

At least one winning entry per category can be declared by the judges. Winning entries in the investigative categories are then passed on to the Don McGillivray Award judges, who decide the winner of this overall award. Judges may declare “no winner” for a category. If this occurs, no finalists in that category will be announced.

Judges use the same published criteria available to those who enter the awards along with the general criteria below to determine their ranking.

In those categories including French-language entries, the awards committee will assign a minimum of one bilingual or Francophone judge to the category. Judges selected and assigned by the awards committee are experienced journalists who are not eligible to compete in the category in which they are judging.

Recipients will be announced at the 2017 CAJ conference in Ottawa, April 28-29, 2017.

Judges are asked to consider the following:

  • Entries in investigative categories need not be purely investigative, however investigative entries are given added weight;
  • Original subjects and content matter;
  • Effective use of the medium—imagery, clarity, language and narrative;
  • The breadth and scope of the research undertaken, as well as how it was used within the entry;
  • Impact and timeliness;    
  • The degree of difficulty in research or production, resources available to the journalist / newsroom, time available for production and/or risk involved in getting the story;
  • In the photojournalism category, the objective is not to find the single best photo but the overall body of work submitted in the entry;
  • In the labour category, entries that go beyond a work-to-rule, strike, lockout or other job action to report on the broader social, economic and political impact on the labour movement and market will be given preference and added weight.

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