Every year, Current fields many questions about the Local that Works contest. People are curious about what a winning entry looks like. The most effective submissions are concise and well-crafted; they feature a unique, strong, authentically local example, and make a clear case for the project’s value to your community. We suggest you peruse our database of previous submissions to look at the 20-25 projects that were named semifinalists, finalists and winners each year. That will give you a snapshot of the initiatives past judges found most compelling.
Below are answers to some questions that have been asked by other entrants. Feel free to send new questions to email@example.com with LTW CONTEST QUESTION in the subject line. We hope this is helpful as you craft your winning entry by Aug. 23.
Is this contest open to digital news websites or is it aimed just at public broadcasters?
Local that Works is open to all local, regional and state-wide media companies including nonprofit and for-profit digital news sites, ethnic and community media, etc. Collaborations between multiple media outlets are welcome to enter.
Are international newsrooms eligible to apply to the Local that Works contest?
No. Only U.S.-based companies and initiatives may participate.
Must this be a news project?
No. Besides journalism projects, previous finalists have included music, education, storytelling, arts and culture projects. Important common threads are community service, engagement and demonstrated impact.
Our project is in progress. Does it need to be finished before we apply?
No. We accept entries from finite and ongoing initiatives. However, we suggest you hold off on submitting entries exclusively about programs that haven’t aired, events that have not yet happened, series that haven’t been published, or projects that have not launched, since you will not be able to share your story of impact. Your chances are best if your entry explains and documents what your project has already accomplished instead of what your initiative intends to do after the contest deadline. If you have something exciting coming up, let Current know so we can consider covering it! And if it’s a success, submit it to LTW next year. Send story pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are locally produced initiatives for a national audience eligible?
Yes, but you would have to make a strong case for the local value and demonstrate the impact on one or more local communities.
May we submit more than one entry?
Yes. However, we recommend that you choose your entries carefully.
We received federal funding for our project? Can we still apply?
What if foundation funding went to a partner but together we collaborated and created the program?
We welcome entries for collaborative projects, but only one media organization can receive the prize. The winning organization may share the $20,000 with partners.
Are partnerships with local organizations for a locally produced series eligible? The partner produces it, and we air it.
If your station’s only real involvement is to broadcast content produced by another entity — not a co-production role — your entry may not be competitive. If your station takes a leading role with a community engagement strategy related to the series, that would strengthen your submission.
I understand multiplatform projects are encouraged, but does there have to be a radio element to the project?
No. Broadcast is not required. Previous finalists have included nonprofit news organizations working in print, online and community events.
How small is too small to compete? We are a digital paper for a community of 14,000.
Media of all sizes serving communities of all sizes are invited to enter the contest.
Do we upload only one photo or multiple?
The entry form has a single field for one featured image, either a photograph or a video. The video field can only accept links from YouTube and Vimeo. If you don’t have links on these platforms, you should upload a still image/photograph. Your image or video will become part of the Local that Works database. If you have other photos or videos you’d like judges to see, you can submit them in the additional fields provided for judging links.
Radio station projects are competing with TV stations and other news organizations that will have more compelling images to include in their submission. Any tips on how to balance the scale?
Your entry will not be disqualified based on the image you upload. But you must submit an image of some kind whether that’s a logo, photograph, graphic, illustration, screenshot, video, etc.
Will the COVID-19 category be for initiatives impacted by COVID, or should COVID be the subject of the content?
The COVID-19 tag is primarily for creative ways you’ve been serving your community during the pandemic. How your station pivoted to online events or created other audience engagement opportunities would qualify.
Will I receive an email acknowledging receipt of my submission?
No. When you hit submit, a message will appear on the page in a bright green box that confirms your entry has gone through.
The entry form calls for character count not word count. Are spaces counted as characters?
What if I’m a finalist?
When will we find out if we are a finalist?
If you are a finalist, you will hear from us mid-late September. Once all finalists have been informed, Current will publish an announcement. Finalists will be required to prepare a presentation to compete for the grand prize at the “Grand Finale” an online event in the late fall. Finalists will receive a stipend and editorial support in crafting their presentation which will include a short video.
What if I win?
Is the $20,000 prize considered restricted funding that must be used for a specific purpose?
The only restriction is that the award goes to the media organization, not an individual. (However, the winning company is welcome to use the funds however you wish: staff bonuses, reinvest in the initiative, general operations, donation to a community organization, a party, etc.)
Will there be an agreement form or contract involved if we are the lucky winner?
No. The only implicit agreement is that a representative from all finalist organizations must carve out time to create a video for the Local that Works virtual Grand Finale in the fall (Details to follow).
Will the winner have any reporting requirements?