WILLIS PRIZES

The Zenger House Foundation partners with World News Group to present Willis Prizes for Christian Journalism.

Zenger funds the contest, provides the judges, and awards the prizes. WNG handles administration and advertising. 

Think. Report. Write.

WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR:

Willis Prizes for Christian Journalism are designed to encourage original reporting that reflects biblical objectivity, the perspective God clearly communicates
in Scripture.

Print pieces may be up to 3,000 words, audio or video stories up to six minutes.

BIBLICALLY OBJECTIVE JOURNALISM

The premise is this: Since God created the world He understands it better that any human could. We glimpse His understanding by studying and applying the Bible. We define journalism as something based on reporting and related to an event or trend. We prefer street-level, pavement-pounding reporting to suite-level, abstract essays.

For further explanation, go to our Journalistic Beliefs page:

SUBMISSION PROCESS

WE AWARD WILLIS PRIZES THROUGH A 2-STEP PROCESS:

First, individuals may nominate their own or someone else’s journalistic story by emailing to zengerhouse@gmail.com a pdf (if a written piece) or a link to a video or audio piece that is available online. A World News Group administrator puts impressive submissions onto a long list that goes to the judges. They read, listen, view, and create a short list.

Second, we contact authors who make the short list and ask them to supply biographical information. We may interview the most impressive entrants. Our goal is to discern talent but make awards to people, not pieces of paper or piles of pixels. Willis Prize announcements honor the winners as well as their work.

We are accepting submissions for 2021 any time between September 1, 2021, and January 31, 2022. We plan to announce prize winners on May 3, 2022.

First place |  $5,000 
Second place |  $4,000 
Third place |  $3,000  
Fourth place |  $2,000
Up to 11 honorable mentions |  $1,000

During this first year we do not know how many excellent entries we will receive, so judges need not award every prize. The decision of the judges is final.

Individuals may enter up to three stories or pieces. All entries must be in English and must be the original work of the entrants. They should not be public relations pieces for a particular individual or organization and should not contain anything defamatory, fraudulent, obscene, or profane.

 

On-the-Ground Stories

HERE ARE 10 QUESTIONS JUDGES WILL ASK:

1. Does the story show strong evidence of on-the-ground reporting rather than reliance on reading and contemplation only? 

2. Does the story have sensory detail so readers feel they can see, hear, smell, or touch scenes, subjects, and objects?

3. Does the story bring out a diversity of non-official perspectives, instead of relying on organizational spokesmen and publicity releases?  

4. Does the story have strong human interest, starting with a face who allows the writer to show how a big issue affects an individual life?

5. Does the story connect the human interest to larger issues through appropriate use of studies, statistics, and other evidence? 

6. Does the story shine a light on an issue many people have never considered or try to avoid, and in so doing convey biblical understanding?

7. Does the story capture the reader’s imagination from the start, so that those who arent judges, family members, or others obliged to read will keep reading?  

8. Does the story provide a “nut graf” or equivalent that makes it clear what the article is about? 

9. Does the story move well, pushing the reader from one paragraph to the next and concluding in a satisfactory way?  

10. Is the story journalistic rather than devotional, showing rather than telling, and steering clear of scolding or pounding readers?

We recognize that good stories are not paint-by-number exercises. We’re looking for evidence of careful thought and clever story-telling.