Solo Video Contest Rules

2023 NPPA Solo Video Contest Rules

The NPPA Solo Video Contest is a vital function of the NPPA and provides an important service to its membership. The contest stands to recognize outstanding work performed by NPPA members on a quarterly basis. The SVC also serves to promote, encourage, and teach the highest levels of photojournalism and ethics.

Quarters are defined as follows: 1st: Jan 1-Mar 31; 2nd: Apr 1-Jun 30; 3rd: Jul 1-Sep 30; 4th: Oct 1-Dec 31. Entries must be received by the 10th of the month following the end of the quarter — April 10th, July 10th, October 10th, and January 10th.

1st Qtr: April 10th

2nd Qtr: July 10th

3rd Qtr: October 10th

4th Qtr: January 10th


The NPPA Solo Video Contest is open to NPPA members in good standing. In order to be eligible to enter any particular quarter, membership payment must be current on or before the 10th of the month following the end of that quarter. For example, to submit a first quarter entry the entrant must become a member by April 10th; to submit a second quarter entry the entrant must become a member by July 10th; etc. Timely dues payment is each member’s responsibility. With membership and participation comes the expectation to serve as a judge.

The SVC is open to solo video journalists, one-man bands, backpack journalists, or any other journalist who shoots, reports/writes, and edits video for a television news model. The Solo Video Contest runs parallel with the Television Quarterly Clip Contest. On a yearly basis, at the beginning of the contest year, each entering journalist must choose to enter only one of these contests; the one that best suits his or her talents and working environment. You cannot change contests during the year. If your role or job title changes from SVJ to photojournalist or vice versa, during the course of the contest year, send an email to the national chair.

An entry must have been published (online or on TV) for the first time during the contest quarter. Personal pages such as Youtube and Vimeo do not count. It must be published through your station/companies platform. The entrant must have shot at least 90% of the entry. The entrant must also have written, tracked, and edited the entry.  “NAT packages” (stories without reporter track) are not allowed. Re-editing is not allowed. There is no penalty to the entrant if file or historical video is used, although historical or file video cannot exceed more than 25% of the total story run time.

Compress your files using H.264.  File size must not exceed 100 MB.  Recommended video resolution is 720P.  Name your files in this format: CATEGORY_NAME OF STORY.  Example:  SPOT NEWS_HOUSE FIRE.MP4.

File Video
File video is defined as video that was previously used in a newscast, video that originated from a network feed, and stock video that was shot previously that may or may not have already been published. File video also includes surveillance video, amateur video and VNRs. File video does NOT include original video created by the entering journalist’s colleagues. Any questions regarding the use of file video should be directed to the national chair.


There are six categories. A photojournalist can submit two clips, but may enter three clips each quarter if one of those clips is submitted in the Deadline News OR Spot News categories. The clips may be entered in the same category or in different categories. The same clip may not be entered in more than one category. Any clip may be entered in any category provided it meets the guidelines set forth below.

Please keep in mind: it is up to the judges discretion if they feel a story was submitted into the proper category. They will dock points where they feel necessary if they think it should have been submitted elsewhere.

  • Spot News (Maximum length: 5 minutes) An unscheduled and unfolding news event for which there was no opportunity for planning. This category should reflect stories that are breaking news and serious in nature. They should show the hectic scene unfolding in front of you. This category recognizes the photographer’s ability to function in a stressful situation, keeping his or her photographic gear rolling to capture the overall scope of the scene, and zeroing in on individual reactions.
  • Deadline News (Maximum length: 5 Minutes): The goal of this category is to highlight television photojournalism under deadline pressure. Your entry for this category can be serious, soft, humorous, sad, etc. What’s most important about this category is the time constraint. The entry must be shot, edited, and exported within 4 consecutive hours. If you are thinking of submitting something in spot but is too soft, or you had too much time to plan (i.e. follow ups after a breaking news event), and was done in 4 consecutive hours, submit it here.
  • General News (Maximum length: 5 minutes) A timely news story, whose news peg is serious in nature but can be told in a multitude of creative ways. The story should not be evergreen, there should a level of newsworthiness to the day. This piece should cover a planned news event, an issue, or person or topic of general interest and importance. It can be a follow up or sidebar to spot news. This category can be filled with any day-of assignments given to you, as long as they have a hard news peg. Stories must have been shot, edited, and exported within 24 consecutive hours.
  • News Feature (24 hours)(Maximum length: 5 minutes) A timely news story, soft or humorous in nature that covers a planned or unplanned news event, an issue, or person or topic of general interest and importance. It can be a follow up or sidebar to spot news as long as the piece is soft. Stories must have been shot, edited, and exported within 24 consecutive hours. If the story is held back due to breaking news, it cannot be re-edited before airing. If you are going back and fourth on where to submit, your serious stories should be submitted to general and your soft stories should be submitted here.
  • News Feature (No Time Limit) (Maximum length: 10 minutes) A planned story that appeals to the emotional side of the viewer and the photojournalist puts considerable time and effort into the production of the story. Features that score highly show imagination and creativity. There is no time limit on production.
  • In Depth/Investigative (maximum length: 15 minutes) A planned story where the photojournalist puts considerable time and effort into the story’s planning and production. These entries are to be Issue-based OR Investigative in nature. This category is meant to capture stories that go beyond the day turn and take a deeper dive into a storyline or topic. A series of stories may be submitted as one entry as long as the sum of the parts does not exceed 15 minutes. There is no time limit for story production. Entries may be split into parts if they cannot get below the 100mb threshold.

You ARE allowed to use music within ANY story, in ANY category that is submitted for the contest. Judges have full jurisdiction to score pieces lower or higher if they feel music adds or takes away from the piece as a whole.

In all categories, a stand-alone package or a package accompanied by a live shot may be submitted. The entering photojournalist must have shot at least 90% of the recorded video portion and, if included, 100% of the live portion. If a photojournalist submits a live element produced with multiple cameras, that photojournalist must have been responsible for the content of each camera angle (except for anchor tosses). Any clip that includes a live element must have the air-check version submitted.

To qualify for a Regional Photographer of the Year title, a photojournalist must submit clips in three of the six categories during the contest year. There is no requirement for a photojournalist to place winners in any set number of categories. Re-editing is prohibited in every category.

The pool chair or the judges will determine the qualifications of each entry and may dock points as they see fit.

Choosing Winners

A panel of the entrants’ peers judges SVC entries. The pool chair assembles the judges. Judges must represent and act in the best interest of the NPPA. Judges must take into account the uniqueness of the category when choosing winners from that category.

Judges must choose a first, second and third place in each category if there are at least four entries in the category. If there are fewer than four entries in a particular category a first, second and/or third place may or may not be awarded. However, the average score of the person’s entry must be a 4 or less. If the average score is more than a 4, it MUST be given a placement. There can be no ties. Judges may at their sole discretion award an honorable mention in any category regardless of the number of entries.


Judges will award points for content, craft, creativity and commitment for each piece. Here is the breakdown for those points.

10: Incredible photojournalism that showcases meaningful storytelling in an inspiring and creative way. A 10 means the judges thought the execution was the best way to tell that particular story with the circumstances around it. They may still have feedback (and they absolutely should) but a 10 shows the judges learned even more about great storytelling from watching.

8-9: An 8 or 9 scoring should align closely with a 10 but includes a few things the judges felt should have been executed differently. It should still be a great showcase of photojournalism but has a few more flaws than a 10.

7: A great story that has some technical mistakes that become obvious to the judges. The photojournalism can still be outstanding but there are a decent amount of changes the judges feel need to be made to enhance the story to the next level.

5-6: A story given a 5 or 6 in any of the categories means the content and creative nature of the story is lacking. There are issues with story structure, shooting, editing, composition, etc. A 5 or 6 should be given to someone who definitely put a considerable amount of effort into making the story great, but may have missed the mark on a few different spots.

3-4: When a story is given a 3 or 4 it means there is a lot of work to be done before the piece can have the type of impact it needs to have on an audience. It reflects a story that is extremely lacking in proper storytelling, structure, shooting, editing, composition etc. This is a piece where the judge feels they really need to mentor the photojournalist on how to advance their techniques.

0-2: A story given a 0-2 represents a piece that completely misses the mark. It shows clear need for growth and the judges should use this as an opportunity to help that person get better. 

Contest Division
There are two divisions in the Solo Video Contest. It coincides with the Television Quarterly Clip Contest. Stations that are in their respective regional top pool will be placed into the SVC Top Pool. Everyone else will enter in SVC General. Entrants will move into and out of SVJC Top based on the results of the TVQCC. In the future, the SVC may move to a promotion/relegation format of its own based on entrants and not stations.


Points are awarded in each category as follows:
1st place – 11 points
2nd place – 8 points
3rd place – 5 points
Honorable Mention – 2 points

Continuing education is essential to the NPPA and its members. The NPPA values the sharing of professional techniques and ideas. Judges will provide a thoughtful and constructive critique for every entry.

The title “NPPA Solo Video Journalist of the Year” will be awarded to the two entrants who accumulate the most points in their respective regions during the year. If there is a tie, the person with the most first places wins. If there is still a tie, then the tie stands and the title awarded will be “Co-Solo Video Journalist of the Year.”


Certificates will be awarded for each quarterly 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Honorable Mention winner. Plaques will be awarded to the two Solo Video Journalists of the Year.