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Huck Boyd summary

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FROM: Dave Gordon

SUBJECT: Huck Boyd Competition

This is a transition year for our research paper competition, co-sponsored by the Huck Boyd Center for Community Media at Kansas State University. As you know, we were instructed at the 2018 conference to make sure that the winning paper in this competition was presented at an ISWNE conference before being published in Grassroots Editor. We have begun to adjust the competition timetable to meet both this requirement and the need for a relatively rapid turnaround between submission of the winning entry and its publication.

That rapid turnaround is one of the features that make this competition attractive to academic researchers, who frequently have to wait well over a year for their work to go through a peer review and work its way into the publication lineup. We were able to publish the first winning paper (by John Hatcher) in less than a year but that publication preceded John’s presentation at the 2018 conference.

To avoid this situation in the future, we needed to move the timeline ahead by about two and a half months to ensure a steady progression toward publication for the top paper. When the new timetable is fully implemented next year, papers will be due close to three months ahead of the ISWNE conference. This will allow time for them to be reviewed, presented at the conference (if selected) and then prepared for publication, utilizing feedback from conference attendees as appropriate. The top paper will thus be presented first at the conference and published in either the Fall or Winter issues of Grassroots Editor, depending on Chad’s needs.

Because last year’s conference was relatively late (July rather than June), we had very little time to revise and implement the new timetable. The submission deadlines for the first two years of the competition were June 22, 2017 and June 22, 2018. This year we moved that deadline earlier, to April 1, 2019, and next year it will be March 1, 2020.

This year, since we weren’t able to announce the schedule change until after the AEJMC convention in August, there was only a small window in which to develop and submit the two-page proposals on which the papers are based. For this year’s competition, we set a Nov. 1 deadline for those submissions, rather than the January deadlines of the first two years. Next year that first deadline may well be a few weeks earlier, but we will start publicizing it in May rather than in late August.

This year’s tight timetable forced us to extend the Nov. 1 deadline by almost two weeks but that extension produced the submission of four proposals. These went through the usual academic peer review process as well as being reviewed by our panel of three newsroom reviewers – Marcia Martinek, Helen Sosniecki and Al Cross, all of whom are doing this for the third year. After both review processes were complete, two of the proposals were accepted and the authors were invited to expand them into full-blown research papers, to be submitted by April 1. The other two proposals were rejected as being insufficiently developed and the authors were invited to take to heart the reviewers’ comments and consider submitting revised proposals next year.

The two research papers due on April 1 will be reviewed by both the academic and the newsroom reviewers and the winning paper will be selected for presentation at the Atlanta conference. Mike Buffington has also created space on the program for the presentation of last year’s winning paper, by Christina Smith, a faculty member at Georgia College and State University. We were fortunate that Christina’s timetable for promotion/tenure review enabled her to agree to the year’s delay in publication of her paper, so it can be presented to ISWNE before being published.

I can’t conclude this report without noting the contributions to this effort by our editorial board of peer reviewers, by Gloria Freeland at the Huck Boyd Center and particularly by Clay Carey at Samford University as well as by our newsroom review panel. The reviewers have made themselves available when needed, and have produced some very insightful comments and guidance for the authors. Gloria has handled some of the basic procedural logistics (receiving and distributing the proposals and the papers) and Clay has done a tremendous job of assigning proposals and papers to the peer reviewers, of riding herd on them and then of getting the reviewers’ comments, concerns and suggestions back to the authors.


2017: 4 proposals submitted; one was rejected immediately; one was rejected with suggestions on how to improve the paper, and it turned out to be the 2018 winning entry. Two authors were invited to develop their proposals into finished papers. Both of them did so, but one of the two papers was judged to be below the threshold for publication. The other, by John Hatcher, was published in Grassroots Editor and presented at the Portland conference. 

2018: Five proposals received; authors of four were invited to develop them into full papers and three of   them did so. The fourth paper was withdrawn when the senior author was unable to devote time to writing it because of a book contract with a summer deadline. This author was encouraged to submit a proposal this year and did so; her proposal is one of the two that are currently being developed into research papers (see the 2019 summary, below). 

The other three proposals resulted in papers and the one by Christina Smith was selected as the best of the group; it will be presented in Atlanta and then published in Grassroots Editor. The other two papers needed further development and Clay Carey provided guidance to the authors, based on comments from both academic and newsroom reviewers. One of those two papers was revised, peer reviewed yet again and published in Grassroots Editor. The other author has told Clay that she will have the revised paper ready to submit for further review by early April. 

2019: 4 proposals received; two were rejected and the other two are currently being developed into research papers that are due on April 1.     

How many more years for this project?                                                

Submitted by: David Gordon

Copies: ISWNE Foundation Board