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The Society of Professional Journalists has just announced that they will be holding their first ever awards for video game journalism, called the Kunkel Awards, directed (not judged) by Michael Koretzky. Anyone can nominate a piece of work up until February 14, 2016 where they will then be judged by professional journalists.

The Kunkel Awards are named for Bill Kunkel, who, as the official site for the awards notes, was credited for having “helped invent video game journalism,” by the New York Times in his 2011 obituary. Kunkel helped co-found the very first magazine dedicated to video games, Electronic Games, and was active in the gaming industry in one way or another up until his death—from teaching classes on game design to writing strategy guides to editing gaming publications. Certainly a fitting figure to have the awards named after.

In what the site describes as an intentionally limited scope of categories to “encourage ethical and balanced news reporting” in game journalism, the Kunkel Awards features five categories, with descriptions from the website:

  • Excellence in News Reporting
    • One story, or up to three stories on a single topic. News can be breaking (reporting on something that just happened), in-depth (studying a topic by surveying all sides), or investigative (digging into a topic by uncovering previously unknown facts). No one kind is considered superior by the judges.”
  • Excellence in Feature Writing
    • “One story, or up to three stories on a single topic. A feature can be a profile (an in-depth look at one person), a Q&A (a verbatim interview with one person), or a color piece (a descriptive put-you-there story).”
  • Excellence in News Video/Streaming
    • “One recording of no more than one hour. See description above. Can be edited down from a longer stream. As with written submissions, judges expect multi-sourcing.”
  • Excellence in Feature Video/Streaming
    • “One recording of no more than one hour. See description above. Can be edited down from a longer stream. As with written submissions, judges expect multi-sourcing.”
  • Excellence in Photography/Illustration/Infographic 
    • “One photo, original illustration, or infographic. Visuals are a crucial part of journalism. Submissions should stand alone as visual elements but also complement any text surrounding them. Submit with any supporting text and as a separate file, so judges can focus on both elements.”

The judges for the Kunkel Awards will be “professional journalists working otuside the gaming press, but with varying degrees of knowledge about it.” As with the categories, there will be five criteria for judging, with descriptions from the website:

  • Accuracy
    • “Don’t trust, verify. This covers everything from spelling names correctly to ensuring all claims are indeed facts — and if you can’t verify those facts, admitting as much to your readers, so they can draw their own conclusions.”
  • Balance
    • “Give all sides their say. It’s called multi-sourcing. No award-winning report has just one source. Talking to all sides doesn’t mean giving them all equal space. It simply means giving them all a fair chance to explain their positions.”
  • Clarity
    • “Explaining isn’t easy. The hardest part of journalism (or anything) is describing complex or technical concepts in plain English. That means no jargon readers won’t grasp. It also means weaving background into the story without bogging it down.”
  • Verve
    • “Journalism isn’t supposed to be boring. You can be accurate, balanced, and clear — and no one will read or listen if you’re dull and stuffy. You need a conversational or even witty writing/speaking style to hold your audience’s attention.”
  • SPJ Code of Ethics
    • “Last on the list is first for the judges. If you can’t apply the principles of the SPJ Code of Ethics that all good journalists do — hell, even the slimeballs who ignore it know about it — then nothing else above matters.”

Finally, the nomination process. Anyone can nominate anything from anywhere as long as the article was published/posted in the 2015 calendar year. It could be from someone’s blog, a big name site everyone knows, or everything in between. You don’t need to do anything to nominate either, other than fill out the nomination itself. No personal information is required whatsoever.

One thing the site specifically notes is that “The number of times an entry is nominated means nothing.” Judges won’t be made aware of how many times something has been nominated, so there is no need to continually nominate something more than once.

All of you interested now only need to keep an eye out for something you think worthy of attention and/or dig through articles done within this last year for things you think deserve a look. For now, the Kunkel Awards have only been given a trial run of one year, but could become a regular thing if all goes well.

Do you have some entries in mind already? What do you think of the awards? 

Andrew Otton

Editor in Chief

Editor in Chief at TechRaptor. Lover of some things, a not so much lover of other things.

  • LenLovecraft

    This is incredible. I sincerely hope this encourages writers to try harder when doing journalism. I’m really glad the spj is doing this, I think this will really help give the field more professionalism and legitimacy.

  • Zepherdog

    Lets get Techraptor to the Kunkels! (kek)

  • lucben999

    Considering the bad journalism in gaming is largely malicious and politically motivated, I doubt incentives like this are going to be effective in solving that problem.

    Awards can motivate the lazy, but it takes deterrence to fight malicious reporting.

  • Sounds like a good idea!

  • Cytos Lpagtr

    i just hope this does not boil down to “who can explain games to non gamer journalists the best”

  • Unbeliever

    Most likely they will write articles of how these awards are “problematic”.

  • The only way to fix things now is with your wallet, money motivates and screams far louder than an award. You want quality, you can’t sit around and beg for it you have to get up and work for it. This is still good news and does give a reason fro folks to push for quality gaming media, but in the end the mighty dollar will always call louder than a political agenda.

  • SirBittle

    Excellent! Hopes this goes well. I know personally I’d definitely be more inclined to check out sites that earn these awards.

  • Mr. Snrub

    Let’s see if the big corrupt sites embrace this or trash/ignore it.

  • CM Dubya

    Probably the same smug indifference they showed at AirPlay.

    “Hmmph, silly little Society of Professional Journalist and their little meetings and awards, we’re KOTAKU/POLYGON! We don’t NEED to care about them because we’re already so golly gosh darn wonderful. *tosses hipster scarf across shoulder*”

  • webkilla

    Awkward name, but awesome concept

  • mbits

    1. Journos and their SJW buddies will nominate themselves for their SJW articles. Period.

    2. Other than the obnoxious SJW-agenda articles, everything else in gaming is “hurr durr, repost a press release” or a quick dasha bout how broken a game is. I can’t think of a single thing to nominate in 2015, because video games just don’t have any meaningful journalism going on.

  • Rautaputki

    This sounds good!

  • Mr. Snrub

    There’s a button on the nomination site where you can contact Koretsky with questions and concerns. It will probably be a good idea to make them aware of Deepfreeze because why should someone like Kuchera get nominated when he has 11 points of COIs, corruption, and collusion.

  • Mr. Snrub

    Eh, only because it was the guy’s last name. I think it’s a good name since he was the first.