Research Paper Competition

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CALL FOR PROPOSALSISWNE/Huck Boyd Competition: Strengthening Community News 

The International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors (ISWNE) and the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media at Kansas State University are seeking proposals for papers that provide insight and guidance on general issues and/or everyday problems that confront community newspapers and their newsrooms.

This competition is an extension of the Center’s former “Newspapers and Community-Building Symposium,” co-sponsored by the National Newspaper Association (NNA) and its foundation for 20 years. It aims to engage academicians and community newspaper journalists in productive “conversations about community journalism.”

Proposals will be peer-reviewed by faculty with expertise in community journalism.  Final selection of the papers to be written will be made by a panel of working and retired community journalists who will evaluate the proposals on the basis of their potential value to newsrooms.

Completed papers will undergo a final peer review prior to publication in an issue of ISWNE’s quarterly journal Grassroots Editor. The schedule has been moved ahead this year to ensure publication of all accepted papers by January 2020.

Proposals from graduate students are especially encouraged, as are proposals with an international focus, or reflecting an international perspective on community papers’ newsrooms.

One paper will be selected for presentation at the 2019 ISWNE conference in Atlanta, GA. ISWNE and its Foundation will provide the author with a complimentary conference registration  as well as a partial subsidy for travel. The paper’s author will be expected to make whatever arrangements are necessary to attend this conference, which will run from June 19-23, 2019.

A second paper will be selected and the author will be invited to write a brief (400-450 words) summary of it for the ISWNE Newsletter in addition to publication in Grassroots Editor.  The authors of both top papers will receive complimentary one-year memberships in ISWNE.

Focus: Papers should deal with topics that are relevant to the newsrooms of community weeklies and which provide guidance to those newsrooms on general issues and/or everyday problems they may face. Examples could include legal, political, or ethical issues; alternative print/digital integration models; methods to achieve economic savings while maintaining editorial quality; techniques for staff recruitment and retention; or relationships between communities and their news organizations.  Please note that these are only a few of the many areas on which papers could focus. A case study of one or more community papers would be acceptable if it leads to conclusions or suggestions that are then expanded to have general applicability.

Note that ISWNE members have access to the organization’s Hotline, where topics of current interest to weekly newsrooms are regularly discussed. Non-members may request temporary access by contacting Executive Director Chad Stebbins at

Most successful proposals will deal with applied research, although theoretical papers that provide the basis for further applied research are also acceptable, as are general research papers that establish a connection to newsroom issues.

Guidelines for Developing Proposals: Proposals should be limited to a maximum of two pages, and shorter ones are strongly encouraged. These proposals should explain clearly and concisely how the final papers will be of practical use to community weekly newsrooms. They should note any prior work on which they will build or which they will assess critically.        

Proposals will be evaluated on the relevance and importance of the topic and on its value to newsrooms. Other criteria include originality, clarity of the writing, appropriateness of the methodology to be used, the likelihood that valid conclusions will be reached and the choice of materials that will be used to document the paper’s conclusions/support its recommendations. 

Suggested Length for the Paper: 2,500 to 6,000 words. 

Logistics for submission: Proposals should be submitted electronically to Huck Boyd Center Director Gloria Freeland at The proposal itself should contain nothing that would identify the author. It must be accompanied by a separate title page containing full author contact information (name, e-address, mailing address, university and/or professional affiliation and phone number). These two items had to be emailed by Nov. 1, 2018

Other Dates:

  • Authors of accepted proposals were notified Dec. 14, 2018
  • Any changes suggested by the second peer review will be sent to authors by July 1, 2019, for use in preparing the final version of their papers for publication. 
  • Final versions of the papers should be sent electronically to ISWNE Executive Director  Chad Stebbins at by Sept. 4, 2019. 
  • The author of the paper selected for presentation at the 2019 ISWNE conference will be notified by Apr. 19, 2019 and peer review comments will be made available as soon as possible. As noted above, the author of the top-ranked paper is expected to be able to attend ISWNE’s 2019 conference, from June 19-23 at Emory University in Atlanta. 

ISWNE was founded in 1955 to promote high standards of editorial writing, facilitate the exchange of ideas and foster freedom of the press in all nations. It aims to help members of the weekly press improve their editorial writing and news reporting and to encourage strong, independent editorial voices.  Chad Stebbins has been ISWNE’s executive director since 1999.

The mission of the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media is to serve and strengthen local newspapers, radio stations, online media and other outlets that play a key role in the survival and revitalization of small towns in the United States. The center, established in 1990, co-sponsored the “Newspapers and Community-Building” Symposium with the NNA and its foundation from 1994 to 2014. It also sponsors an annual lecture series on community media; works with area news organizations to sponsor workshops; encourages a community media perspective in journalism courses; and fosters research benefitting community media.  Gloria Freeland has been the Center’s director since 1998.