Here at Current, we’ve been fielding many questions about this year’s Local that Works contest. Most of the questions are about eligibility. Entrants want to know whether they can submit multiple entries, whether finalists from previous years can enter again, whether it’s okay to submit projects that are completed or ongoing and whether projects that are funded by federal grants are eligible. The answer to all of these questions is yes!
Please peruse our database of previous submissions to see the diversity of projects that were selected as semifinalists, finalists and winners in previous years.
We received many questions about the Local that Works gala, an online event in October at which finalists will compete for the grand prize. We will share the details of this event and the voting process when we announce the contest finalists in mid- to late September.
Below are answers to other questions we’ve received so far. We hope this is helpful as you craft your winning entry by Aug. 20.
Is this contest open to digital news websites or is it aimed just at public broadcasters?
Local that Works is open to digital news and media sites, including members of the Institute for Nonprofit News (Current is a member of INN). Collaborations between media outlets, including local commercial media, are welcome.
Are international newsrooms eligible to apply to the Local that Works contest?
No. For now, only U.S.-based companies and initiatives may participate.
Are locally produced initiatives for a national audience eligible?
Yes, but they must include local content, engagement or impact.
Our project is in progress. Does it need to be finished before we apply?
No. However, your chances are best if your entry explains what your project has already accomplished instead of what your initiative intends to do moving forward.
What if foundation funding went to a partner but together we collaborated and created the program?
We welcome entries for collaborative projects, but only media organizations can receive the prize. Your organization is free to 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.
Yes, but 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.
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.
Must this be a news project?
No. Previous finalists have included music, storytelling and arts and culture projects.
Do we upload only one photo or multiple?
The entry form has a single field for one photograph or a link for a video. Those images become part of the Local that Works database.
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 judged based on the image you upload with your entry.
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. However, 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.
What if I’m a finalist?
When we we find out if we are a finalist?
If you are a finalist, you will receive a phone call from us by the third week in September. Current will formally announce the finalists right after all finalists have been informed.
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 give bonuses to the staff who made the project happen or to reinvest the money in that winning initiative.)
Will there be an agreement form or contract involved if we are the lucky winner?
No. The only implicit agreement is that representative from all finalists must carve out time to create, rehearse and deliver a dynamic 10–15 minute presentation for the Local that Works online gala Oct. 22 (time TBD). And of course, you’ll have to agree to be interviewed by Current!
Will the winner have any reporting requirements?