Every year, The John H. McDonald Awards for Excellence in Student Journalism — better known as the Johnnies or the JHMs — are presented as a part of NASH. These prestigious awards recognize the very best in student journalism across the country.

The submission deadline for the 2020 JHM’s is Nov. 2. Please note there is a limit of two submissions per publication per category. The shortlists will be announced mid-December, with the winners being revealed at NASH82: Empower. Submissions must have been published between Oct. 31, 2018 and Oct. 31, 2019.

Please direct any inquiries to vp@cup.ca.



Arts & Culture Writing Award

For excellence in arts and culture coverage, either as news or a feature. Arts reviews, previews, criticisms, commentaries and profiles are all accepted in this category. Topics can include movies, music, television, books, dance, visual arts, food, fashion, etc.

  • Does the story provide a complete understanding of an event or issue?
  • Does the writer show significant knowledge of their topic?
  • Is the topic accessible to both an aficionado and a general audience?
  • Are reviews knowledgeable, well informed, and fair?
  • Does the work provide perspective and analysis of its topic/interviewee?
  • Is the work able to relate an arts/culture topic to the community or world at large?
  • Does the writing make an effort to convey personalities, motives, and mannerisms to create additional meaning?

Submit Here


Humour Award

Really, just for the funniest piece a CUP journalist has written this year. Essays, satirical news, and comic strips will all be considered. The award will be given to the submission that most strongly displays an internal, coherent, and original sense of humour, applied to a topic of relevance to the communities that CUP newspapers serves.

  • Does the piece punch up, and not down? (If a particular person or organization is taken to task in the piece, does the author approach this taking-to-task from a perspective of progress and not of bullying or piling-on?)
  • Is the humour coherent and original?
  • Does the content seem natively humourous – i.e., do the themes dealt with seem to best be dealt with by taking a humorous approach?

Submit Here


Diversity Reporting Award

This award to recognize journalism that addresses racial, economic, disability, gender, and sexual equity issues on campus and in the wider community. This award will be given to a story that builds awareness of social justice issues and/or holds authorities to account.

  • Does the issue addressed in the story fall under the overall topic of diversity as described above?
  • Does the story provide a complete understanding of an event or issue?
  • How well would this story engage a reader of the intended audience?
  • Is the topic reflective of lifestyles and challenges facing those from a diverse background?
  • Is the story positioned to or oriented towards some sort of social progress or change?

Submit Here


Feature Writing Award

For excellence in feature writing, a single story must be submitted and have a minimum of 800 words and a maximum of 4,000 words. Multi-part series of three articles or less will be accepted if they are within the word limit as a whole.

  • Does the writing appeal to the senses?
  • Does the writing feature a mix of informative quotes, quality anecdotes and a wide variety of sources?
  • Is the subject matter original?
  • Does the writer understand the feature as a specific form? Does the article display a strong sense for narrative?
  • Does the writer present diverse and varied interviews, statistics and information?
  • Does the story maintain a strong narrative throughout and have a clear beginning, middle, and end?
  • Does the story leave the reader satisfied with a notable takeaway?

Submit Here


Investigative Reporting Award

For excellence in reporting on a topic that reveals a matter of public importance. The article should demonstrate the use of investigative techniques and reveal information that wouldn’t have otherwise been accessible to the public. It may have required more time and research to investigate than a typical story.

  • Does the story provide a complete understanding of an event or issue?
  • Has the writer balanced multiple sources properly?
  • Did the writer take initiative in finding unique sources?
  • Would there have been significant difficulty in getting this information? Was fairly in-depth research required for this story?
  • Were most sources on the record? If there are anonymous sources, are they used properly to present information that would’ve been difficult to obtain otherwise?
  • Does the story take a complicated subject and make it clear and easy to follow for the reader?
  • Is the story written in a compelling manner that obliges readers to keep reading?

Submit Here

The CWA Award for Labour Reporting

CWA Canada, the oldest media union in Canada, sponsors an award to honour journalism that shows skill in reporting on the social, economic and political factors that impact the labour environment on campus or in Canada. Entries showing an impact on policy, law or public awareness are encouraged. Many entries will address unions, the labour movement, strikes and/or lockouts, but this is not a requirement of the award.

  • Does the issue address in the story fall under the overall topic of labour as described above?
  • Is the issue addressed in the story one that would have a significant impact on students/make a difference in the lives of others?
  • Does the story provide a complete understanding of an event or issue?
  • How well would this story engage a reader of the intended audience?

Submit Here


News Reporting Award

For excellence in reporting and writing under deadline pressure or covering a developing story. Focuses on the ability to tell a story with clarity and direction, while also providing a full picture of the event.

  • How well would this story engage a reader of the intended audience?
  • Has the writer balanced multiple sources properly?
  • Are quotes used effectively and are they properly attributed?
  • Is the story timely, does it have a significant impact and is it locally relevant?
  • Does the article contextualize an issue?
  • Does the writer show strong reporting and research skills?

Submit Here


Op-Ed Award

For excellence in opinion or editorial-style writing. Opinion can be anything that is a personal judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. Must articulate a proper argument on side of an issue and provide positive advancement in the debate surrounding said issue. Editorials are considered for this category if the editorial makes a strong argument.

  • How well would this story engage a reader of the intended audience?
  • Is the claim being made a unique or original claim? Does it add something new to any national or regional conversation that it is entering?
  • Are all arguments backed up by research and presented in a logical manner?
  • Does this work identify an issue of some importance, and help the reader to understand it in a new way?
  • Does the article encourage reader response and/or significantly contribute to furthering the debate?

Submit Here


Sports Reporting Award

For excellence in sports coverage, either as news or a feature. Sports previews, reviews, profiles, and commentaries are all accepted in this category.

  • Has context and background been given to the story?
  • Does the writer provide perspective and analysis into why a game was won or lost and highlight what factors contributed to that result?
  • Does the story play to the senses by conveying the emotion behind these details?
  • Are all statistics presented in a coherent and effective manner?
  • Does the writing make an effort to convey the personalities of their subject(s) to create additional meaning?

Submit Here


Indigenous Reporting Award

For excellence in reporting on Indigenous issues, using the unique elements of student journalism in order to further the understanding of Indigenous issues to the broader communities that their papers serve. The committee will take into special consideration stories and situations that highlight issues that are not receiving coverage from mainstream media.

  • Does the reporting broaden the audience’s understanding of a specific issue facing Indigenous communities?
  • Is the reporting fair, balanced, and understanding of the unique social, economic, and political position that Indigenous communities face in contrast to settler communities?

Submit Here


Data Journalism Award

For excellence in the utilization and analysis of data in identifying, explaining, and elucidating particular issues relevant to the communities served by CUP papers.

  • Do the themes dealt with seem to be best served by using data as an angle?
  • Does it incorporate easy-to-understand visualizations of data? If not, is the raw data presented within the copy without prejudice to the reader before the author is drawing their claims?
  • Was the data collected ethically?

Submit Here


Climate Reporting Award

For excellence in reporting on environmental issues that concern the audience of CUP papers or communities across the country. The reporting can be focused on a micro- or a macro-level: localized effects of climate change or activities that affect the country at large.

  • Is climate the particular and primary concern of the issue reported?
  • Does the reporting broaden the audience’s understanding of the link between the climate issue at hand and its effect on a subject of the story?
  • If incorporating climate data, is this data accurate?

Submit Here



Cover/Layout of the Year (paper award)

For excellence in designing a visual experience, which can be either a cover of a paper, a centerfold feature, or anything in between, incorporating photos, illustrations and article(s).

  • Does the layout design make for a strong visual image that conveys the intended message?
  • Are colour, the copy, and typefaces used effectively to make important information stand out?
  • Are the main story and photo(s) featured prominently? Is the headline eye-catching?
  • Are all photos/artwork cropped and sized properly?
  • Is there a clear relationship between the story and images on the page?
  • Does the layout have enough impact that someone would stop to read it?

Submit Here


Graphic/Illustration of the Year

For excellence in visually presenting or supplementing information. The graphic or illustration must enhance the story at hand from either an informational or aesthetic standpoint. Factors of judging will be colour, artistry, clarity, and impact.

  • Does the artist display superior artistic talent?
  • Does the graphic or illustration enhance the reader’s understanding of the piece?
  • Does the illustration or graphic have purpose? I.e., are there elements relevant to the story being told that are best told by the visual copy?

Submit Here


Photo of the Year

For excellence in news, features or arts photography. Entrants may submit one photo for consideration and will be judged on both technical ability and artistic license.

  • Does the photo have a significant impact?
  • Has the scene been photographed in an interesting manner?
  • Does the photo capture the theme/emotion/atmosphere of the subject/topic?
  • Is the photo well cropped, utilize colour well and have good technical quality and composition?
  • Is the lightning effective?
  • Does the photo communicate a story?
  • The image should not be digitally altered other than traditional lighting, darkening or colour balancing.
  • Does the photographer display a concrete grasp of superior photography skills?
  • Has the photographer avoided a clichéd set-up and shown the activity from a fresh view?
    • For news, the following will be considered: Impact, news judgment, timing, reflex, composition and creativity. Natural has serious content and strong human-interest elements of a news event.
    • For arts, the following will be considered: Drama, humour, poignancy, as well as talent within a particular scene relating to the arts. Concert photos must grab the atmosphere of the concert as well as the talent within the artists. Must focus on some aspect of the art from.
    • For features, the following will be considered: Strong human-interest qualities are found that pertain to a certain subject, as an un-staged situation that has elements of human-interest or a fresh view on an everyday scene.

Submit Here


Best Online Media

For excellence in website design and functionality. This award will be given to a paper that feels they have the best website that incorporates the below criteria. The award will focus on innovation in a digital age, accessibility, functionality and versatility, and will incorporate an appreciation for responsive and intuitive web design as well as the degree to which the website exists independent of a paper. The social media element is designed to reward papers who utilize social media as an extension of their own platforms.

  • Is the website intuitive?
  • Is the website functionally independent from the print issues, i.e. are the potential for it being a platform for both more niche content as well as breaking news content taken advantage of?
  • Is the website an active part of the online culture of a university’s community?
  • Is the website technically sound and accessible for mobile readers?
  • Are the paper’s social media feeds relied upon by the communities they serve to be up-to-date and

Submit Here


Prize for Digital Storytelling

For excellence in using the web to tell a story through any number of multimedia elements to tell a story. This award will be given to an individual or group who have looked towards the future and shown an understanding of how to tell stories with the web – whether that be incorporation of video, interactive layouts, a podcast or audio recording, or any other multimedia.

  • Do the multimedia elements aid storytelling and the reader’s understanding of an issue?
  • Is the media well written, well researched and journalistically sound?
  • Does this article portray a professional use of multimedia?

Applicants are required to submit:

  • A link to the webpage where the piece can be located.
  • The names of all contributors and how they contributed.

Submit Here



Student Journalist of the Year

This award is meant for an individual who shows great skill as a student journalist. The award is intended to highlight and focus on those with a unique, diverse perspective and beat. The award will also focus on highlighting those journalists who are best equipped to bring unique and meaningful contribution beyond just the Canadian media landscape but the country as a whole.

Nominators must submit the following:

  • A copy of their resume, which should highlight past experience in various journalism fields or related areas.
  • A portfolio of published work of at least 3 pieces.
  • A report highlighting any special projects, accomplishments, or initiatives tackled within the applicant’s tenure as a student journalist. It should also outline a statement of purpose surrounding their journalistic body so far.
  • A letter of reference if you are submitting on behalf of yourself.

Please note: Nominations are welcome. If you are submitting the following materials on behalf of someone else, please ensure both the name and contact information of the person you are nominating is included in the package.

Submit Here


Student Publication of the Year

This award, voted on by CUP’s membership the night of the JHM gala, is designed to help foster solidarity among the student media landscape and to recognize any outstanding accomplishments, progress, and community service that a student publication has brought to their community at large over the past year.