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Write-off Contests

Please read all the rules and policies very carefully. Registration for the Orlando Write-offs IS NOW CLOSED. No more registrations or entries are being accepted.

Newspaper/Newsmagazine Contests
News Layout Contests
Press Law and Ethics
Yearbook Contests
Literary Magazine Contests
Graphic Design Contests
Photography Contests
Broadcast Contests

Contest Rules & Policy (APPLIES TO ALL CONTESTS)

The National JEA Write-off Chair and National Write-off Coordinators will have overall supervision of the contests. The local committee Write-off Chair is responsible for the organization and execution of the contests as directed by JEA Write-off chair and coordinators.

Before the convention

  • The adviser to entrants must be a current JEA member and a convention attendee.
  • All contestants must be registered at www.jea.org by the deadline, usually three weeks before the convention. NO LATE ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED. Entries are processed in the order received. Missing deadlines due to “just received permission,” “business office late” and similar situations will not be acceptable excuses for late entries. Entries without names will not be accepted. Contestants must be paid attendees at the convention.
  • The Write-off Rules and Regulations should be printed and read thoroughly by the contestants and adviser, and brought to the convention.
  • A minimum of 10 category entries must be received for a contest to be conducted.
  • Please register early. Some convention venues have limited seating for the writing contests. In the event the number of registrants for a contest category fills the seating capacity of the assigned contest room and a larger room is not available, JEA will CLOSE registration early for that category.
  • Entries are limited to one contestant per category per school. EXCEPTIONS: An individual, two-person team or three-person team may submit one story in designated categories. Team members must each pay the registration and contest entry fees at the convention.
  • A student may enter only ONE category.
  • Junior high /middle school students may enter any contest. They will be judged against high school entries unless advisers indicate at the Write-off registration desk that they wish to receive only grade-level feedback and a certificate of participation.
  • Advisers requesting special accommodations for students with disabilities must do so by the registration deadline and bring documentation (IEP/504) to the convention.
  • No refunds will be given unless canceled 14 or more days before the convention. Call JEA Headquarters, 785-532-5532 or toll free 866-532-5532 for cancellations.
  • Contestants need to provide their own materials for the contests, as noted at the beginning of each group of contests and in individual category descriptions. The JEA Bookstore at the convention will have many of the materials for sale in limited quantities. JEA will not provide materials other than those noted.

Convention and competition

  • ID Labels for each contestant must be picked up by the adviser at the Write-off desk during regular registration hours and checked for accurate assignments before leaving the Write-off desk area. A lost ID Label can be replaced for $5. ID will be replaced only if the contestant is on the original Write-off list and shows a photo ID and convention name badge. Replacements are available until 3 p.m. Friday.
  • Name substitutions and spelling changes may be made during registration hours until noon Friday at the Write-off desk. Categories may not be changed.
  • Contestant ID Labels must be presented in order to compete. Students who arrive at their contest after the start time may be disqualified. Students who leave before their entry is submitted or who leave critique sessions early may be disqualified.
  • Visitors are not allowed to remain in the contest room.
  • If space is available, and with the approval of the Write-off chair, entries that do not meet the requirements (i.e. missed deadline, incorrect submission, entered wrong category, etc.) may be critiqued but will not be eligible for an award. Each participant must pay the entry fee.
  • Results are final when contest judging closes.
  • If any contestant’s name, school name or identifying mark is mentioned or implied, the entry will be disqualified with few exceptions: photo and computer design entries in which a school identification appears incidentally as part of a picture; broadcast categories where names of contestants may be used. Online News Package is also exempt.
  • Students need to check individual categories and contests for materials requirements. Bring your own paper and writing utensils. Digital recorders with earphones, electronic spell checkers, dictionaries, thesauruses and Associated Press Stylebooks are allowed during the contests with the exception of the 08 News Editing.
  • No talking to other contestants is allowed other than in critique sessions. Ask the moderator or monitor to answer any questions.
  • Each contest has a lead judge who will open the contest promptly, give all explanations, hand out assignment sheets, introduce the speaker if one is required for the contest, and see that all time limits are followed. Students who continue to work after time is up may be disqualified. Moderators collect all materials before contestants leave the room.
  • Photography, graphic design, newsmagazine and newspaper layout, yearbook layouts for inside pages, theme and cover/endsheets, broadcast online submission contests and literary magazine layout contests require contestants to attend on-site critique sessions. Students must be present for the entire session or entries will be disqualified.
  • All entries must follow all federal laws regarding copyright. Winning entries may be posted on the JEA website.

Judging the contests

  • Each contest is judged by a minimum of two qualified persons. With the entry risking disqualification and in the interest of fairness, judges may not participate in evaluating entries from their own schools.
  • Judges are to be instructed to provide written comments on the JEA critique sheet or provide verbal feedback during critique sessions for the contestants to record on their response sheets. These sheets are not how the entry is judged but is used for feedback to the contestant. Sometimes it is a special spark or creative element that will push one entry to the forefront. High marks do not necessarily mean an award will be given.
  • If an entry indicates that the student is a danger to himself or others, the entry will be disqualified, the JEA executive director will be notified, and the school may face other disciplinary action.
  • In the event of a controversy, the National Write-off chair and JEA executive director will make the final decision.


  • Winners receive a certificate and are recognized at the Sunday awards ceremony. The ratings are Superior, Excellent and Honorable Mention. Superior ratings, which are awarded with a medal, may be given to no more than 10 percent of the entries in any contest. Judges may give as many ratings in Excellent and Honorable Mention as appropriate.
  • Winning entries may be broadcast, displayed, or published in JEA publications or on its affiliated websites. Winners’ names and schools will be published on the JEA website.
  • There will be no sweepstakes. Emphasis will be placed on the learning experience provided each individual contestant.
  • Entries are available for pick up at the awards ceremony. Unclaimed packets will be mailed to the school.

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