SPJ Introduces Kunkel Awards for Video Game Journalism

Published: November 10, 2015 11:28 AM /


SPJ Guidelines

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? 

Have a tip, or want to point out something we missed? Leave a Comment or e-mail us at tips@techraptor.net

Andrew Otton
| Editor in Chief

Andrew is the Editor in Chief at TechRaptor. Conned into a love of gaming by Nintendo at a young age, Andrew has been chasing the dragon spawned by Super… More about Andrew