Entries are invited in the following categories: News, Features, Comment/Opinion, Photojournalism and Sport. The criteria and advice for the judges relevant to each category are below.


Interview a local celebrity, cover a local event, write a news report about something of public interest. Just make it interesting and relevant. Maximum length 600 words (ideally no less than 400 words).

Advice from the judges:

  • Choose any news story in a newspaper that you consider to be a good news story and try and work out why you think it’s good.
  • It does not have to be an article about something of cosmic importance: it can be about something small and local, as long as you are sure it will be of interest.
  • Remember: short paragraphs, active verbs, plain but strong use of language.
  • If the story is about a row that’s going on somewhere, try to give both (all sides) a fair crack of the whip, without expressing your own view.
  • Write it so that anything that’s less important comes in at the end of the story, and the most important fact is right at the top.
  • Don’t just cut and paste from news that has already appeared elsewhere. Try and find out something that is really fresh and new, perhaps in your own locality.

Click to see examples of news articles:

Headline writing is a key part of any news story.  Click the front page samples below to see how the various NewsBrands titles covered the marriage referendum vote.


The must-have fashion accessory, the latest celebrity divorce, the coolest restaurant on earth – the options are endless.

Maximum 800 words, minimum 600 words.

Advice from the judges:

  • Engage the reader’s attention right from the start.
  • Write it so that it doesn’t go out of date too quickly.
  • Use description as well as quotes etc to vary the pace and colour of the piece.
  • Opinion not excluded, but better expressed indirectly.
  • Remember that humour is exceptionally difficult.
  • Have a good idea of the audience you’re writing for – maybe specify this in a note attached to your article.

Here are some examples of feature articles from the National Newspapers:


A thought-provoking, action-packed, shocking or beautiful image – you decide. Or maybe a satirical cartoon or funny caricature.

All entries must be submitted in jpeg format with a maximum image size of 3MB and a minimum of 1MB.

Advice from the judges:

  • If you haven’t taken any pictures yet, think about where you can go to take a newsworthy picture. Are there any interesting events coming up in your area where you could bring your camera?
  • If not, try and take interesting photos of everyday life. Press photographers have to do this all the time – for example, children enjoying a sunny day.
  • See how many different types of news photo you can identify. These can often be identified by the headings on the page where they appear, for example sport, local news, business, style and so on. Try to take different types of photo yourself.
  • When you find a good subject, take lots and lots of pictures, from different angles, closer in, further away etc. and only send in the best one.
  • Make sure the pictures you send to the competition are JPEG files only. Don’t put them in a written document, and don’t make them too small or they may be disqualified. Ask your teacher for help with these technical details.

Check out this link to view the winning images from the 2015 Press Photographers Association of Ireland awards. PPAI Awards 2015


An analysis of a current topic, an opinion style piece or a letter to the editor.

Analysis/ opinion between 400 and 600 words. Letters – no more than 400 words.

Advice from the judges:

Anyone can have opinions. A good opinion piece, however (and all the more so a good analysis piece) has an argument or a point of view that is supported by facts.

  • Arguing against accepted or conventional wisdom is sometimes a good idea – it helps you to get noticed!
  • Remember that, unless you’re already well known, your opinions won’t carry much weight unless there’s evidence that you know what you’re talking about.
  • Your own direct experience is often useful evidence in an argument/opinion. piece – but you have to remember that some of your readers may have had different experiences.

Here are some examples of column articles from the National Newspapers:


A match report, an interview with a budding sports star, your account of a local sports event – have fun.

Required word count – between 400 and 500 words.

Advice from the judges:

This is the most difficult journalism of all. Everyone thinks they’re an expert, so what can you do to persuade them that you know more than they do?

  • Beware cliches. They act like lead boots in a sports story.
  • On the other hand, colourful, fresh comparisons, similes, metaphors (look them up if you’re not sure what they are) can give great colour and impact.
  • If you are focusing on one particular sports person, include non-sport info about him/her, and make sure in advance s/he’s interesting enough to deserve an article all to himself/herself.

Click to see examples of sports articles: