The road to Sport Media Excellence in the pandemic era

  • March 22, 2021

Martin Mazur - AIPS Media

LAUSANNE, March 22, 2021 – The road leading to #SportMediaExcellence found an unexpected obstacle in 2020.

Soon before launching the 2020 edition of the AIPS Sport Media Awards, the pandemic hit the world.

Despite the difficult, unprecedented circumstances, the first promoting message we sent was clear and loud - Sport was cancelled, journalism is not.

It was, indeed, an exceptional time for outstanding pieces of journalism and our Award played a major role in showcasing it.

By the end of September, with sport slowly resuming, AIPS announced a one month extension to guarantee journalists that were still in lockdown and struggling to get access to events an extra opportunity to participate.

After the deadline, of November 9, the results were remarkable: 1871 submissions, a record, coming from 129 different countries, a record, and in 34 different languages, yes, another record.

Journalism was not cancelled, after all.

First cut - With the impossibility of in-person meetings, the deliberation then started with permanent Zoom calls between December and March.

The expert panel, alongside the Executive Committee members and Jurors, made their initial ratings. The AIPS office staff checked the validity of all works and started asking for the translations into English, the official language of the Awards.

That initial selection led to the publication of the longlists of the 8 senior categories plus the Young Reporter categories. Around 20% of the participants were selected in this first voting stage. The journey, though, was just starting.

EC meetings - Composed by 24 members representing 24 different nations, the AIPS Executive Committee reviewed and discussed the submissions in several virtual sessions. Based on this deliberation, the favourite works advanced to the next round. Social media filled with compliments for the nominees. The second voting round was over.

Jury voting sessions - The shortlists were then presented to the Jury, that would handle the last three voting stages.

The Jury is composed by 12 respected members of the media landscape representing the five continents. 

Their arduous work involved narrowing down the shortlists into a Top 10 (third voting stage), and then decide the Top 5 finalists (fourth voting stage).

There was an overall agreement: the quality of the works received was higher than ever.

The remaining candidates, 40 for the senior categories plus 9 for the Young Reporter categories, were then subject to a final voting, last Friday.

The podium nominees with the top 3 most voted were announced a day before the ceremony.

Results of the final positions were kept secret even for the Jury members, who, just as it happened in the first two editions, only find out who comes first, second and third during the ceremony.

Eight categories - The AIPS Sport Media Awards feature eight senior categories are as follows: Photography Sport Action, Photography Portfolio, Writing Best Column, Writing Best Colour Piece, Video Short Feature, Video Athlete Profile, Video Documentary, Audio, plus the special category for the Under 30s: Young Reporters Writing, Young Reporters Photography and Young Reporters Broadcasting.

All senior categories offer money prize (US$ 8,000 for the first place, US$ 3,000 for the second place, US$ 2,000 for the third place) while the Young Reporter category winners are entitled to a scholarship in an international sporting event.

COVID era - As a reflection of a very special year in the world of journalism, a list of ‘covid’ works was also published in the AIPS website, featuring candidates for outstanding reporting in the pandemic era, an initiative of the president of the Jury, AIPS president Gianni Merlo, to show that despite the reigning darkness, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The place chosen for the virtual ceremony couldn’t be more accurate, as the castle of Vigevano is a symbol of the Renaissance era.

This was the third edition of these Awards that quickly became the most distinguished accolade in the world of sports media. A real celebration of the best sports storytellers from around the world.


How to participate

Learn what qualifications you need to be eligible for participation.

Awards given to each winner of each category. Chosen by the best judges.

Sign up to participate and submit your work for evaluation.