Welcome to the Alabama Sports Writers Association; ASWA Bylaws

The ASWA will be revamping its bylaws as it looks forward to holding its annual convention and awards banquet in Birmingham on June 13
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The Alabama Sports Writers Association is a professional organization for sports writers and editors throughout the state, or any person involved in disseminating sports information or publicity in Alabama including but not limited to sports information personnel, publicists of professional organizations or facilities, or publicists of non-profit organizations sponsoring or governing sporting events. 

Its primary aims are to:

  1. Encourage the highest standards of sports journalism in Alabama and beyond.
  2. To promote and protect the rights of its members and others in regard to working conditions in the daily coverage of sports.
  3. To represent the collective interests of its members in any area that affects their professional duties or general welfare.
  4. Foster and promote the dissemination of information on athletics and sports activities.

The ASWA is a non-profit organization.

ASWA Executive Committee 2021-2022

President: Christopher Walsh, BamaCentral.com

Vice-president: Stacy Long, Florence TimesDaily

Treasurer: Greg Seitz, Jacksonville State

Secretary: TBD 

Executive director: Kirk McNair, BamaOnline

Executive council: Mark McCarter, Arthur L. Mack, Jon Johnson

Mentor program directors: Doug Segrest and Tony Tsoukalas

Chairman of the President's Committee: Charles Hollis

To Join ...

Annual dues: $30 for active members, $25 for anyone serving in the mentor program.

Alumni dues: $15 for those who are no longer active in the profession.

Alabama Sports Writers Association (ASWA)

Jacksonville State Sports Information 

700 Pelham Road North

Jacksonville, AL 36265

Attn: Greg Seitz

The amount is changed, the alumni dues are a new category.

Annual convention

The convention and annual awards banquet are traditionally held the Sunday before Father's Day in June. The 2021 celebration is scheduled for June 13 in Birmingham. Cost to attend is $25.

For more information:

aswacontest@protonmail.com

ASWA Bylaws

In January 2021, the ASWA will begin the arduous process of establishing new bylaws to update and improve its rules and procedures, but also be reflective of the changing nature of sports journalism. 

Our version of a constitutional convention will be a completely transparent process, with an ongoing draft posted throughout January and February. In order to hold the annual writing contest on time, a March 1 deadline will be targeted for a working version to both be approved by the executive committee and submitted to the ASWA membership. 

The process of fine-tuning and adding any final changes will be ongoing through the annual business meeting during the ASWA convention, scheduled for June 13, 2021. 

All input and feedback is encouraged and appreciated: bamacentral@zoho.com.

— Christopher Walsh, ASWA president

Membership 

Any person who regularly writes, reports or edits sports news for any wire service or website based in Alabama or any newspaper or magazine regularly circulated in Alabama shall be eligible for membership.

Any person primarily engaged in disseminating sports information or publicity in Alabama including but not limited to sports information personnel, publicists of professional organizations or race tracks, or publicists of non-profit organizations sponsoring or governing sports events in Alabama shall be eligible for regular membership.

Any person engaged in the field of athletics or having a special interest in athletics and the function and operations of the organization shall also able to apply for membership with the executive committee. 

Responsibilities of Officers

The duties of the officers shall be as follows:

President: The president is the chief executive officer of the organization. The president shall call and preside at all general meetings. The president shall be empowered to appoint persons to fill vacancies in any other elective office with the advice and consent of the Executive Committee. 

Vice President: The vice president shall assist the president in all duties, and in the absence or disability of the president shall assume those duties. The vice president also serves as the administrator for the annual writing contest and the presentation of the athlete of the year awards during the annual convention. After completion of his term, the vice president shall become president of the association for the following two years, unless he/she declines.

Secretary: The secretary shall keep a membership list of the organization and oversee the purchase and distribution of awards. 

Treasurer: He or she shall be the bookkeeper of the organization and provide a financial report to the membership at the annual convention.   

Executive Committee: The committee is made up of thee people who assist and advise the president in the administration and governing of the organization as outlined in these bylaws. 

Prep Committee

The prep committee's primary responsibilities include conducting regular top-10 rankings of a variety of high school sports, and select all-state teams in those sports as well. The committee will determine the winner of a variety of annual awards including the annual Mr. Football winner, and the Jimmy Smothers Courage Award.

Ideally, every school in the state will be represented by someone on the committee, although this obviously isn't always possible. 

Those wanting to vote in any rankings must do so in all sports, and for every set of rankings throughout the academic year, barring legitimate emergency. This is to maintain continuity and the integrity of the polls.  

To vote for either the awards or in the rankings a person must be a dues-paying member of the ASWA.

The prep committee has a chairman in each of the "All-State" sports: football, boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball and softball.

Each sport chairman receives one ballot for any ranking. In addition to the chairman, each news outlet is allowed no more than one ballot for any ranking.

Each voter is expected to submit area scores every week. He or she may also be called upon to gather all-state nominations from a handful of schools that are not in his or her primary coverage area. 

Multiple absences will result in the person being stripped of his or her vote for the rest of the season along with All-State/Mr. Football selections (though he or she can still nominate players for consideration).

In general, voters must first vote in the other polls before being eligible for football, however the committee may be petitioned to make an exception for those who are in new roles (i.e., someone was hired or promoted, etc., and meet all the other requirements).

ASWA Mentor Program 

The ASWA will promote and connect many of the state's top sports writers and editors to provide feedback and guidance with promising young writers as they start down their careers paths. The primary aim is to work with college students, but is open to high school students as well. 

The benefits are numerous on both ends. Studies show that those who have mentors advance significantly faster than those who don’t, and it would help promote the future of our profession and organization.

ASWA members who participate in the program will receive a $5 deduction from their annual membership. There is no cost for the student. Each student will be invited to the annual ASWA convention, which will include a special roundtable-type discussion, and awards banquet, with the mentor asked to sponsor his or her attending by paying a small fee (approximately $15) to cover the meal costs. 

* This is a new program 

Scholarship 

When it is viable and financially feasible, and there are qualified applicants, the ASWA will issue a collegiate scholarship to children of ASWA members at the discretion of the Executive Committee. 

ASWA Hall of Fame Criteria 

Criteria for the Alabama Sports Writers Hall of Fame:

1. A nominee must have been a full-time sports writer in the state of Alabama for at least 10 years.

2. Full-time sports writers will include those who worked or have worked at a daily newspaper, a weekly newspaper, a wire service, an Internet service (which includes blogs, newsletters, etc.), a specialty sports publication or a magazine published in the state of Alabama.

* This is a proposed change for a broader definition of Internet service 

3. The Hall of Honor recognizes individuals who either has been instrumental to the growth and success of ASWA, or to sports journalism in general and he or she has a strong Alabama tie (born here, went to school in the state, etc,), but does not meet the criteria outlined in Paragraphs 1 and 2.

* Proposed change to widen the criteria for the Hall of Honor

4. Hall of Fame and Hall of Honor inductees will continue to be determined by a vote of the ASWA membership. To be elected, a nominee must receive more than 65 percent of the votes cast. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, no more than two people shall ge inducted in either category during a given year. 

* The minimum requirement is lowered to 65 percent, down from 75. The two-person cap was added. 

Presidents' Award 

The ASWA President’s Award will annually go to the individual who displays outstanding community service activities, and overall excellence while exemplifying the spirit of athletics in the state. 

The intent is for it to be an unsung hero-type honor, similar to the Bill Shelton Award or the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year, but honoring someone in the community. It could be anyone from a prominent administrator to a Little League player, but ideally will go to a person or group who is usually not in the spotlight, and most people in the state are not familiar with.

The winner will be decided upon by a newly created President’s Council, featuring anyone who served as an ASWA president. Discussion and balloting will be at the discretion of the serving ASWA president or a committee head appointed by the ASWA president. The group will meet to discus candidates and vote.

* This is a new award 

Bill Shelton Award 

The Bill Shelton Award is a community service honor given to the top journalist in the state who excels in contributions to making the community better through journalism.

Although anyone in the organization may be nominated, it is awarded at the discretion of the executive committee. It is not considered an annual award. 

* The time element is a new change

ASWA Annual Writing Contest 

The annual writing contest is designed to foster and encourage better sports journalism. 

ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS

All members in good standing of the Alabama Sports Writers Association are eligible to compete in all categories.

1. No limit on number of entrants from same publication.

2. No limit on entries per category entrant.

3. A story may be submitted in only one category. 

* This is a change

All entries must have been published during the previous calendar year, between January 1 and December 31. The lone exception will be coverage of subsequent bowl, playoff games and the national championships in college football (plus the follow-up press conferences and stories) . 

* This is a change to include national championship game coverage and follow-up stories

Deadline for submitting material is May 1 (Absolutely No Exceptions).

Entry must be made to the Contest Chairman.

$8.00 per entry must accompany each article to 1) defray costs of the competition, and 2) encourage selective entries.

All entries must be pasted on 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of white paper (except layout entries). NO FOLDING! Xerox copies are submitted at the risk of entrants, or internet copies may be submitted as long as all identifying marks are removed (see #2).

1. Use more than one sheet if necessary and clip or staple together.

2. All identifying marks should be removed (bylines, headlines, logos, folios, pictures, etc.) **Not merely marked out with a pencil, but removed **Subheads within the body of the story may remain.

3. Accompanied by a cover sheet listing category of entry, sportswriters name and publication, date of publication and subject of entry (except layout).

4. For entry purposes, daily newspapers are defined as printing three-or more days per week. Weekly papers are designated as printing two-or less times per week. You may only enter one category.

I. CATEGORIES

A. Best sports story, Writing on a Deadline (must be published within 24 hours of event and written by an individual).

1. Involving professional or college event.

2. Involving prep or other amateur (except college) event.

B. Best Column

1. Entrant will be judged on four columns from anytime in the year.

C. Best story or series writing without a deadline (feature)

1. On Football (Power 5 programs or NFL)

2. On Football (General, meaning anything but Power 5 or NFL)

3. On Basketball

4. On Baseball

5. On Softball

6. On Golf

7. On Wrestling and Boxing

8. On Auto Racing

9. Outdoors

10. General Sports (when there are fewer than three entries in categories C-1 through C-9 entries in category will be entered in C-10).

* Football has been split into two awards. Swimming, tennis and track/cross country have been placed in general sports to help offset new awards.

D. Special Categories

1. Best Enterprise/Explanatory Story

Single article or series with only one entry per outlet; entries should be predominantly the work of a sports writer or sports staff and written by a member or members of the sports department. By definition, explanatory stories focus on trends, issues or original ideas, and shed new light on issues and personalities in the news. They are more than a feature and less than an investigative piece.

* The name is changed from best enterprise story to help differentiate from the best project category  

2. Best Investigative Story

Single article or series with only one entry per outlet; entries should be predominantly the work of a sports writer or writers, and written by a member or members of the sports department.

Judging should be based on initiative; documentation, resourcefulness and original reporting in uncovering newsworthy and significant facts and details that might not have been reported. Investigative reporting relies on reporting the facts discovered and uncovered by the writer rather than reports from anonymous sources. True investigative reporting is rare.

3. Breaking News Story

Single article that recognizes this element of reporting; entries should be predominantly the work of a sports writer or writers, and written by a member or members of the sports department.

4. Project

A project sheds new light on personalities and issues in the news, including trends and original ideas. It is pre-planned content that is conceived and executed as a larger body of work.

It may include non-written elements, including videos, audio, social media, images, animations, video and interactive content. The intent is that the multi-media aspect be complementary of the printed stories, and not the primary element, and must include or be done by the writer(s) involved.

If an organization is affiliated with a TV station it must be the website not the TV station that produced the video. Video produced by television stations is not allowed. 

Due to the unique nature of the category, the entry must be made online, with links to the story (including an account ID and password if necessary), in addition to a cover letter. The cover letter is to only include what is not apparent in the content itself. Judges will disregard all other cover letter content (for example: sales pitches, cheerleading, and general commentary about the entrant). 

The entry must be emailed to aswacontest@protonmail.com.

* This is a new category.

PLEASE NOTE: Judges of the ASWA contest are instructed by the Contest Chairman that entries in the Enterprise and Investigative categories should adhere strictly to the stated criteria. This means there may or may not be a winner in either category, but particularly the investigative category, in a particular year. Judges are allowed to combine the entries or reallocate an entry into a more appropriate category.

E. Best story or series writing – Non-Daily

1. Best Column and/or Feature

2. Best Game Story

F. Best stories or series writing _ Students

1. Best deadline story/gamer

2. Best enterprise/feature

G. Sweepstakes Award (Herby Kirby Memorial Award)

Best story from all categories above.

H. Headlines

Four headlines with first six paragraphs of story submitted.

(Note: The best layout awards have been canceled)

I. Best Supplement or Special Edition

Four originals should be submitted.

II. JUDGING

Contest Chairman

1. Appointed by the president of Alabama Sports Writers Association

2. Makes contest information available to association members; Charged with having entries judged ...

a. by another state’s Sports Writers Association

b. by a school of journalism in another area

Officers and Executive Council members of Alabama Sports Writers Association to serve as standing committee on judging to resolve any protests or questions.

III. AWARDS

A. To be made at summer meeting of Alabama Sports Writers Association.

B. No winners will be announced prior to awards.

Contest Chairman to be charged with securing awards.

Make checks payable to:

ASWA ($8.00 per entry)

Check or Money Order needs to be with the entries when they are mailed.

All entries should be mailed to:

Kirk Sampson

Auburn Athletic Complex

392 South Donahue Drive

Auburn, AL 36849

P.O. Box 351

Auburn, AL 36831-0351

For more information: aswacontest@protonmail.com

Bylaw Changes/General Business 

These ASWA bylaws were approved by the executive committee in February 2021, in time to hold the annual writing contest on time. Changes may be suggested and approved through the 2021 annual convention in June, when the membership as a whole will vote on the bylaws as a whole.  

From that point forward, the bylaws may only be amended during the organization’s annual convention, by the adoption of any proposed amendment by a two-thirds majority vote of regular members present. The lone exception is the president may make procedural-type changes, such as updating the mailing address for the contest, etc.  

Members of the prep committee shall have the power to change rules within their meeting, but those rules must be approved at the subsequent general meeting.

The President and Executive Committee shall have the power to act in the name of the association when the association is not meeting, within the limits set forth here.