Rules & Eligibility

The rules and eligibility requirements for the 2015 Online Journalism Awards are listed below. Entries for the 2016 OJAs will open in April 2016.

Send any specific questions about rules and eligibility to


General Eligibility

The Online Journalism Awards are open to websites, areas of websites and all digital platforms, including smart phones, e-readers and tablets, where journalists have originated the content or selected and amplified it. Search services, portal sites and wire services may submit content they created that fits the eligibility requirements. Individuals and organizations may enter the contest. Online retailers and advertising sites are not eligible.

Publication Date

The 2015 Online Journalism Awards are open to work published between June 16, 2014, and May 15, 2015. Entries must be available online for one year from date of submission.

Multiple Entries

If submitting multiple entries (either in the same category or across multiple categories), fill out entry forms for each entry, then make one purchase for all of the entries you submitted. However, you may NOT enter the same item into more than one category.

Student Eligibility

There is a single category for student work, split into two size groupings, and a third, more expansive “pro-am” group for partnerships with professional organizations. To be eligible in the two student-specific size categories, the entire project must have been produced only by enrolled students receiving academic credit for the work being entered. Students can be full- or part-time; graduate, undergraduate or high school students. Work produced for pay is not eligible for these two student awards. Work that was created by a student for credit but then subsequently and independently made available to a commercial publication is allowed, but should be explained in the entry.

Entries submitted to a student category with a checked box agreeing to the terms of the awards confirms that the work was done by students. The entrant should explain any professional or professorial involvement when completing the entry.

For the “pro-am” group, the work should be predominantly that of the students in an academic environment, but where the students may receive compensation and/or be supported by or in collaboration with a professional organization. Note: This is not intended for interns who are working for a professional organization.

Size Categories

Some categories for the 2015 Online Journalism Awards are broken out by size, as determined by the total number of the organization’s employees. If an entry was produced with external resources — contractors, freelancers, etc. — that number must be included when determining size.

Small: For an entrant to be considered “small,” the organization must have 50 or fewer employees.
Medium: For an entrant to be considered “medium,” the organization must have between 51 and 250 employees.
Large: For an entrant to be considered “large,” the organization must have more than 250 employees.
Student, Small: This student group is for projects produced by 1-3 students.
Student, Large: This student group is for projects produced by four or more students.
Student, Pro-Am: This is a partnership between a professional organization and an academic institution, or through an intern or fellowship program where students are compensated. There is no limit on the number of participants.

A note about freelancers and contractors: If an entry is the product of work with contractors or freelancers, include the entire staff of the contracting entity when determining the staff size of your organization.

A note about partnerships: If an entry is the product of a partnership of two or more organizations, enter into the size category corresponding to the combined staffs of the partner organizations.

A note about subsidiaries:

Many media outlets are part of larger organizations. To determine the proper size for your entry, consider the following: if your organization is wholly independent and receives no technological, editorial, or financial support from your parent organization, then you may be eligible to enter into a smaller size category. However, if your organization receives material technological, editorial or financial support from the larger entity, you may need to enter the larger organization category.

When making your submission, you will be required to include a statement explaining why you believe your entry belongs in the selected category. ONA judges have the final say as to whether your entry was entered in the proper size category. Entries determined to be mis-entered may be excluded from consideration.

Submitting Entries

Entries must be submitted through the online platform. To enter, fill out entry forms for each entry across all categories. Then pay for the total number of awards entries. Entry fees are listed below.

Technical Innovation Award Eligibility

For the Technical Innovation award, any company, journalistic in focus or not, may enter a digital tool it created which, in the organization’s estimation, significantly enhances the practice of online journalism. The publication date restrictions for this award refer to the date of the initial release or substantial upgrade to this product. Judges will weigh the breadth and timeliness of an entrant’s impact on the journalistic community.


Review all entry requirements for each category before submitting an entry. Requirements vary depending on the category. Basic requirements include a URL where the entry is live and a username and password if the entry requires a subscription or registration. Requirements can be found on the categories page.

If an entry exists on a platform that is not available via a desktop computer, such as a smartphone or tablet application, entrants should provide a URL to a marketplace page where the application can be downloaded free of charge. If applicants are submitting entries that requires installation of an app or some other technical requirement beyond the typical browser, please note that in your entry.

Editing Entries

Entries can be saved and edited at a later date, but corrections cannot be made to entries after submitting. Please verify that all the information in your entry is correct before submitting.

Non-English Entries

Entries may be submitted in any language, and we do our best to have multilingual judges, however English translations are strongly recommended.


Entry Fees

Entry fees are $175 per category for non-members or $100 per category for ONA members. Entry fees for students are $50 per category for non-members or $15 per category for ONA members. If you’d like to become an ONA member, join here.

How to Pay

In order to receive the member rate, sign in with your ONA membership account on the awards site. Otherwise, create an account on the awards site to submit an entry at the non-member rate.

Payment should be made online by credit card. If you are unable to pay by credit card, you may pay by check or money order, after contacting to arrange payment and for us to mark your online entry as complete.

Checks should be made payable to the Online News Association. Mail the check to:

Online News Association
1111 North Capitol Street NE, Sixth Floor
Washington, DC, 20002
ATTN: Online Journalism Awards


Judges are a group of distinguished online journalists from around the world. Winners are determined by two rounds of judging. A first round of judges will narrow down the entries to a group of semi-finalists. Then a second group of judges will meet online to select the finalists and winners.


Copyright and Right of Use

Entrants agree to the terms below upon submitting an entry to the Online Journalism Awards:

By submitting an entry in the Online Journalism Awards competition, you grant the Online News Association (and ONA’s partner(s) of the Online Journalism Awards, if any) the right to reproduce, distribute, perform, and display your entry and/or excerpts from your entry in any and all media: in connection with or to promote the Online Journalism Awards; in any archives composed in whole or in part of Online Journalism Awards entries, finalists, and/or winners; and/or in connection with educational projects for journalists, aspiring journalists, and/or the general public.

By submitting an entry, you represent and warrant that the entry is original work, that you have the right to submit the work as an entry in the Online Journalism Awards, and that you have the right to grant ONA (and ONA’s partner(s) of the Online Journalism Awards, if any) the rights granted above.