The Bias of Visual Appeal in the Selection
of General Excellence Winners in Newspaper Contests
George Albert Gladney, Ph.D.
Department of Journalism
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
119 Gregory Hall, 810 S. Wright St.
Urbana, Illinois 61801
After August 15, 1995:
Department of Communication & Mass Media
P.O. Box 3904
University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY 82071
Paper presented to:
The Newspaper Division
Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication
August 9-12, 1995
RUNNING HEAD: "Visual Appeal"
The Bias of Visual Appeal in the Selection
of General Excellence Winners in Newspaper Contests
A B S T R A C T
Using archival data, this study analyzes the relationship between general
excellence winners and winners of 31 award sub-categories in the
Newspaper Association's "Better Newspaper Contest" from 1983-1994.
support the hypothesis that among winners of awards for general
winners in sub-categories involving visual appeal (typography,
photography, and color) are more likely to be represented than winners in
non-aesthetic sub-categories (e.g., pure writing and reporting).
ns for the newspaper industry are assessed.
The Bias of Visual Appeal in the Selection
of General Excellence Winners in Newspaper Contests
In their latest five-year update of trends in front-page design in
American newspapers, Pasternack and Utt observed, "Newspapers are committed
today more than ever before to an attractive appearance. The design
revolution which began in the late 1970s has filtered down--in varying
degrees--to every daily newspaper in the United States." Their 1993
found that of 97 newspapers surveyed, 68% had been redesigned in the
five years. Innovation on page one included increased use of color,
infographics, photos, news digests/indices, and modular format. This study
suggests that editors equate strong visual appeal with improved
In an earlier study the author of the present study found many of these
same innovations spread beyond just page one; he surmised that much of
change was part of the so-called "McPaper Revolution" triggered by
reader-friendly USA Today. The author found, too, that much of the "USA
Today-style innovation" emulated by hometown newspapers emphasized
heavy with entertainment values--e.g., more sports and celebrity
coverage--and formats that make content more accessible and easier to
digest (e.g., shorter sentences, paragraphs, and stories; and more
told with the aid of graphics and illustrations). Observing similar
and content in contemporary American newspapers, Logan argued that USA
Today-style innovation clashes with traditional professional values by
devoting too much space to trivia and fluff and not enough to news of
substance; as a result, news reporting suffers by de-emphasis on
investigative, in-depth, explanatory journalism and concern for public
service and the public's right to know.
The present study looks at the contemporary emphasis of news form over
substance by examining the connection between newspaper emphasis on
appeal and journalistic practices that are rewarded in newspaper
contests. The literature related to journalism contests suggests there are
certain practices and constraints in the judging process itself that may
bias evaluation of general excellence in favor of papers that are
visual appeal--papers that simply "look good." Given that journalism
awards and contests provide models of excellence and incentive to emulate
those models, the implication for the industry is that other criteria
excellence (e.g., traditional qualities of good writing and
reporting) may be improperly subordinated because of the bias of visual
The present study specifically aims to evaluate how prize journalism
values visual appeal as a criterion of journalistic excellence, compared
with criteria related more directly with the substance of news--news
reporting and news writing. Results may help determine the balance of form
versus substance in prize journalism, and indicate whether the design
trends noted above are propelled, at least in part, by the promise of
reward in journalism contests.
In the past 25 years newspaper researchers have focused considerable
attention on the proliferation of journalistic contests and editors' and
reporters' seeming preoccupation with awards. In 1972 Editor &
devoted six pages to list 87 journalism awards in its contest
little more than two decades later the trade publication used 33 pages
list more than 300 national, international and regional journalism
competitions--leaving out many state contests.
Several studies have found that most newspapers encourage prize seeking.
Research suggests they do they do so for a variety of reasons. Prizes
recognize and reward journalists and newspapers for outstanding work and
provide models and incentive for good journalism. Awards also
individual and organizational prestige, improve morale and
sometimes serve as proof of excellence.
Surveys of editors and reporters show they perceive several problems with
prize seeking. These include: (a) unethical behavior rooted in the
of awards (e.g., the Janet Cooke episode involving the Washington Post,
(b) the taint of commercial sponsorship, (c) doubtful motives of
journalists seeking prizes for career advancement and of newspapers
interested seeking awards primarily for immediate prestige, and (d) poor
quality of judging. Coulson found that a little more than a third
managing editors he surveyed worried, too, that prize winning can create a
false standard of excellence.
Numerous anecdotal accounts have addressed these problems, as well as the
politics and strategies of prize seeking.
A few systematic studies have focused on structural variables and content
characteristics that distinguish winning newspapers from non-winners.
Looking at competition as a structural variable, White and Andsager found
that as competition from another newspaper increases, a newspaper is
likely to have a disproportionate probability of winning in a number
categories. However, their study, based on analysis of Pulitzer Prize
winners, found that this conclusion did not hold true in the local news
category. The authors concluded that competition has much less effect
the quality of journalism than it does on the variety of quality.
Turning to content characteristics, DeRiemer examined stories by winners
and non-winners in an education writing contest and found that,
with non-winners, award winners published longer education news
more stories with state and national focus. Hansen reported that, compared
with non-winners, Pulitzer Prize-winning or -nominated enterprise news
stories used proportionately more diverse sources and fewer simple
In a broader context, Laakaniemi, Green and Jankowski identified
consistent winners in the National Newspaper Association's annual "Better
Newspaper Contest," then asked editors to explain what, in their
sets their newspaper apart from consistent non-winners. Editors most
frequently mentioned: (a) finding and managing personnel, (b) good
long-range planning (e.g., listening to readers, knowing paper's role,
leadership through editorials, setting high standards), and (c)
to mechanics (e.g. graphics, layout, photos, editing and writing).
In his plea for further research, Coulson posed the question, "Does prize
journalism heighten performance or focus more attention on the
of the reward than on the activity being rewarded?" This is an
question not only because it underscores the possibility that prizes
become ends in themselves, but also because it reminds us that
that are rewarded in the prize process have implications for
practice throughout the industry. Mindful of those implications, one
prompted to ask: What sort of performance do prizes reward and
Unfortunately, there are few, if any, systematic studies that shed light
on this question. What we do know about journalism contests, and the
process by which entries are judged, comes almost entirely from materials
handed out by contest organizers, news reports about contests results,
published anecdotal observations by contest participants, often in the
of post-contest rumination by competition judges.
Using the latter as a source for understanding the process by which judges
evaluate entries and select winners, it is apparent that constraints in
the judging process bias selection of winners in various ways. The
constraints are: (a) time allowed for judging and (b) space available
display of entries.
A number of judges have complained that contest organizers have not added
enough judges to keep pace with the increasing number of contest
Judging a regional writing competition, one judge observed, "What I
anticipated as a long, intensive session of reading the best in Chicago
investigative reporting turned into a mad scramble of passing the
around to the other four judges in a matter of a few hours." She
"Are all journalism awards given for the highlights and nothing
Pulitzer juror made a similar point: "I suspect that whenever [judges]
to gather from distances in a central meeting place you may read the lead
and two paragraphs. If you're not grabbed at the beginning you may
whole works." Another judge, a Pulitzer juror, wrote: "I wondered whether
the judges had done their job very well, or whether in fact they
when asked to evaluate scores of entries in just a few days." Still
Pulitzer juror observed, "I don't know whether, of those considered, the
best [entry] won. I don't know because in nine hours, five fellow
and I were expected to consider a million words, in 134 separate
and come up with five finalists." This judge concluded that the system
"allows for some pretty good journalism to get lost in the `chaff.'"
Griffith asserted that because there are too many entries for Pulitzer
jurors to evaluate thoroughly, the real purpose of jurors is to serve
merely as "preliminary screeners" for the Pulitzer Advisory Board, which
makes final determination of winners.
Inadequate space provided for judges compounds the problem. One Pulitzer
juror wrote, "What we needed were long rows of tables on which to
[entries] for contemplative comparison; but what we had was one
medium-sized horseshoe table shoved into one corner of the room. We
scattered scrapbooks on the floor, stacked them on the window sill and the
piano bench, and tussled with them on our laps." Another judge
complained of "monstrous clutter" of entries.
Some judges complain that because of the constraints of time and space,
too often judging the quality of writing comes last. Instead, they
judges are focused on entry elements that are most easily detected.
McCormally said his team of judges focused mostly on initiative,
resourcefulness, research--not quality of writing. Blankenburg and Allen
reported that several managing editors said that too often "whim and
rule the judges' decision," and often the deciding factor is an entry's
visual or aesthetic appeal. They noted that at least one editor "urged
entries be standardized to reduce eye-appeal in contests based on
writing." To standardize stories, text of all entries would be set in
same size and style of type and divorced from peripheral graphic
Some judges suspect that many newspapers are savvy to the power of
aesthetics and hope to sway judges with slick packaging of contest
One Pulitzer juror wrote, "I was appalled at the amount of effort that
went into the packaging and display of some of the entries. One weighed
least 20 pounds. It struck me as marketing." McNichol observed:
grammar-school students who tie their book reports together with a pretty
piece of colored yarn, the publicity people at many newspapers hope
aesthetics count for something. Hot among PR embellishments is the
larger-than-life submission, in which the stories are enlarged and mounted
on high-gloss Permaboard."
The overall impression derived from these observations is that because of
constraints within the judging process, the best-looking entries may
an advantage over entries low in eye appeal. This notion is
sound, concordant with common sense, when one considers that the visual
impact of physical appearance plays a critical role in determining
or failure in many aspects of life.
Numerous psychological studies have found that physical attractiveness of
individuals can create an aura, or "halo," of attractiveness about a
that may cause others to evaluate their performance in a positive light.
According to Cash, an individual's personal appearance, or looks,
predisposes others to treat the individual favorably in the workplace, the
courts, school, and life in general. Adler asserted that one's
"is not the most important attribute in determining who gets the goodies
in life anymore. It is looks. . . . In virtually any conceivable set
circumstances, research shows that you're better off being good
The present study attempts to identify those attributes of newspaper
excellence that are most strongly associated with general excellence in
newspaper contests. The study aims to identify the aspects of newspaper
performance that are most highly valued in the contest process, and to
flesh out implications that newspaper emulation of those performances
have for the industry at large.
The review of the literature suggests that, compared with contest entries
lacking strong visual appeal, entries with strong visual appeal are
likely to catch the attention of judges, in their rush to judgment.
leads to the study's formal hypothesis: Among winners of awards for
(overall) excellence in journalism contests, winners in sub-categories
involving aesthetics (typography, photography, and color) are more
to be represented than winners in non-aesthetic sub-categories (e.g.,
writing and reporting).
This study used archival data to examine winning entries in the National
Newspaper Association's "Better Newspaper Contest" over a 12-year
1983-94. The contest presented four awards each year in the
"general excellence": first, second, and third place, and honorable
mention. Awards were presented in five circulation groups--daily newspapers
and weeklies with 10,000 or more circulation, 6,000-9,999, 3,000-5,999,
and less than 3,000. The number of newspapers winning at least one
honorable mention in these groups during the dozen years were as follows:
dailies, 38 papers; weeklies 10,000 or more, 40; weeklies 6,000-9,999,
weeklies 3,000-5,999, 48; weeklies under 3,000, 49. The study assigned
following values to general excellence award winners in each contest
as follows: 4 points, first place; 3 points, second place; 2 points,
place; 1 point, honorable mention. Thus, over the 12-year span, it was
possible theoretically for a newspaper to earn at minimum 1 point for a
single honorable mention and a maximum of 48 (4 points for each first
in each of the 12 years).
The study assigned the general excellence category the role of criterion
variable to be correlated with the 31 award sub-categories used in
study. Table 1 lists the sub-categories. Winners in each sub-category
each year were awarded 1-4 points using the same method described
Because of their highly specialized nature, a few additional
were excluded (e.g., coverage of energy, coverage of literacy, etc.).
[INSERT TABLE 1 HERE]
The NNA contest did not use the same general excellence circulation groups
for all 31 sub-categories used in this study. Thus, in the feature story
sub-category, for example, first-, second-, and third-place awards and
honorable mentions were presented in three daily circulation groups
of one (25,000 or more, 10,000-24,999, and under 10,000) and in five
weekly groups instead of four (splitting the under 3,000 group in two:
1,500-2,999 and less than 1,500). To standardize the scoring, the study
formulated multipliers to give equal value or weight to papers in the
five circulation groups used for general excellence category. Thus,
using the feature story sub-category as an example, points earned by
newspapers in the three daily circulation groups were divided by three
(multiplied by .33) and points earned by weeklies with less than 3,000
circulation were divided in half (multiplied by .5). To use another
example, the NAA presented awards in the color sub-category to papers in
only two circulation groups, dailies and weeklies. To place award
a par with the general excellence circulation groups, each weekly's points
were multiplied by four. Using multipliers this way, each newspaper in
each of the 31 sub-categories theoretically could earn zero to 48
over the 12 years, same as with the general excellence category and
circulation groups except that zero value was added as a possibility.
In most award categories only one first-, second-, and third-place awards
were presented, but usually there was more than one honorable mention.
rare cases a newspaper tied with another newspaper for an award or won
awards in the same category in the same year; occasionally no award
given (for example, there might be first-, second-, and third-place
but no honorable mention). No attempt was made in this study to account
for these anomalies since they would not inject any systematic bias
In a few instances, the NAA did not use a sub-category in all 12 years. In
such cases, the study again used a multiplier to give added weight to
points earned by winners in the years in which the sub-category was
For example, in 1983 and 1984 the contest did not have a sub-category
writing/reporting and so points earned by all papers in this category
the other 10 years were multiplied by 1.2. In this way, again, each
newspaper theoretically could earn 0 to 48 points over the 12 years. This
sort of a weighting method was used only for sub-categories that were
missing for only 1-2 years; if a sub-category was missing more than two
of the 12 years, it was not used in the study.
To test the study's hypothesis, the study employed simple correlation and
multiple regression analysis to correlate the criterion variable
earned by newspapers in the contest's general excellence category)
independent variables (points earned by newspapers in the contest's
sub-categories). The analysis used the SPSSx statistical package.
To facilitate the analysis, the author used subjective judgment to
identify five variables (award sub-categories) strongly associated with
visual appeal (typography, photo essay, feature photo, use of
and use of color) and five variables or sub-categories strongly
with pure writing and reporting (editorial, investigative reporting,
feature story, spot news, and writing/reporting). These select predictor
variable groups were labeled "visual appeal" and "pure
Categories deemed neutral with respect to visual appeal and pure
writing/reporting were set aside and not used for support or lack of
support for the hypothesis. Similarly, visual and writing/reporting
categories related to sports were not identified as key predicator
variables because of the confounding nature of sports categories, i.e.,
sports's function more as entertainment than news.
To test the study's hypothesis that, compared with winners in pure
writing/reporting categories, winners in visual appeal categories were
likely to win points for general excellence, first the mean scores of all
200 newspapers in the 31 subcategories were correlated with mean
the general excellence category. Pearson r (product-moment
describes the magnitude of the relationship for each predictor variable
with the criterion variable (general excellence), but, of course,
any interrelationships or redundancies among the predictors. Next, the
absolute mean values for all newspapers were assessed to identify those
sub-categories in which newspapers scored the greatest number of
Third, to take into account interrelationships among predictor
weighted linear combinations were used in multiple regression analysis
determine the best predictors of the dependent variable, i.e., the
variables that account for as much variance in the dependent variable as
possible. Finally, each variable in the select predictor groups
appeal group and pure writing/reporting group) were aggregated and an
was produced in which mean scores across of all five items were computed.
That procedure produced two indices ("visual appeal" and "pure
reporting"); each index was tested for reliability and multiple
analysis was used to help explain which set of variables better
for, or explains, variance in the criterion variable.
Table 1 shows that 24 variables correlated significantly with general
excellence. The strongest correlation was with the feature story award,
pure writing sub-category, followed closely by two visual appeal
sub-categories, use of photos and typography. Fourth strongest correlation
was with the writing/reporting sub-category. The other key visual
sub-categories (feature photo, photo essay, and use of color) ranked
6, 11, and 17, respectively. The other pure writing/ reporting categories
(spot news, investigative reporting, and editorial page) ranked 9, 15,
22, respectively. Thus, the mean rank (in terms of the magnitude of
bivariate relationships with general excellence) was 7.8 for the visual
appeal categories and 10.2 for the pure writing/reporting categories.
Comparison of the mean ranks provides support for the hypothesis that the
magnitude of the bivariate relationships with general excellence will
stronger with visual appeal categories compared with pure
Turning to the mean values across all newspapers in the 10 select
predictor categories, Table 1 shows that all papers earned the most points
as follows: typography, 2.8 points; use of photos, 2.3;
2.0; photo essay, 1.9; use of color, 1.8; feature photo, 1.7; feature
and spot news, both 1.5; editorial, 1.2; and investigative reporting, 1.1.
Summing these values, 10.5 points were earned by the visual appeal group
and 7.3 was earned by the pure writing/reporting group. Again, this
support for the hypothesis since papers winning general excellence
scored greater absolute points in visual appeals categories compared
pure writing categories.
To develop a formula that accounts for, or explains, as much variance in
the dependent variable as possible, a multiple regression analysis was
used, pruning the multiple regression equation until all coefficients
statistically significant to at least the marginal level of p<.082
Table 1 shows that this analysis produced 11 independent variables.
indicates the proportion of variance in the dependent variable that is
accounted for by the 11 predictor variables. This means that 56% of the
variance in the dependent variable was accounted for by these 11
Support for the hypothesis is found by comparing beta weights (Table 1).
The beta weights indicate clearly that the best predictor of general
excellence was typography, followed by feature story, and use of
photographs. Next, though considerably weaker as predictors, were
writing/reporting, sports column, coverage of arts, spots news, and special
issue. Agricultural coverage, spot photo, and advertising idea were
negatively related and generally accounted for weaker amount of variance.
[INSERT TABLE 2 HERE]
Table 2 shows that when each variable in the select predictor groups were
aggregated into an index in which mean scores across the five items
computed, beta weights from multiple regression analysis (forced
indicate further support for the hypothesis by showing that the visual
appeal index was a better predictor of general excellence than the pure
writing/reporting index. Both indices showed strong reliability, using
alpha for reliability measure; comparison of reliability measures of the
two indices shows somewhat stronger reliability for the visual appeal
compared to the pure writing/ reporting index. A step-wise multiple
regression found that it made no difference which variable (index) went
into the equation first.
The study also employed a principal components factor analysis using
varimax rotation (9 iterations), but this procedure was not helpful in
interpretation of results. Ten factors with an eigenvalue exceeding
were identified; these accounted for 68.7% of total variance. However,
two factors seemed to coalesce into unambiguous groupings. One was what
might be called "graphic appeal"; it accounted for 6.7% of total
and was comprised of photo essay, use of photographs, cartoon, and
picture. The other factor might be called "community leadership"; it
accounted for 6.1% of total variance and was comprised of environmental
coverage, community service, editorial, and the Herrick editorial.
Summary and Conclusion
This study found strong support for the hypothesis that among winners of
awards for general, overall excellence in journalism contests, winners
award sub-categories involving visual appeal (subcategories of
photo essay, feature photo, use of photography, and use of color) are
likely to be represented than winners in sub-categories involving pure
writing/reporting (editorial, investigative reporting, feature story,
news, and writing/reporting). Support for the hypothesis was found in
four measures of data analysis.
First, using simple correlation, the magnitude of the bivariate
relationships between general excellence awards and the various
sub-category awards generally were stronger with the visual appeal
sub-categories compared with the pure writing sub-categories. Second, mean
values of award points earned in the 10 select predictor
(five visual appeal and five in pure writing/reporting) show that
newspapers winning general excellence awards scored greater absolute points
in visual appeal sub-categories compared with pure writing/reporting
sub-categories. Third, using multiple regression analysis, comparison of
beta weights indicate that the best predictor of general excellence
typography, followed by feature story, and use of photographs. Next,
considerably weaker as a predictor, was writing/reporting. Fourth, when
each variable in the select predictor groups were aggregated into an
in which mean scores across all five items were computed, multiple
regression analysis showed that the visual appeal index was a better
predictor of general excellence than the pure writing/reporting index.
These results have potent implications for the newspaper industry, given
that certain practices are rewarded in the prize process and that
journalism contests provide models of excellence and incentive to emulate
those models. The author concludes from this study that the value of a
newspaper's performance in areas involving news substance (the
reporting, and writing of news) is subordinated in the prize process
newspaper's visual appeal--the form in which the news is presented.
This conclusion raises the possibility that the design revolution of the
past 20 years may be related to the process of journalism contests.
is, the newspaper industry's growing emphasis on design and aesthetics
be encouraged by rewards in the prize process. That, by itself, is not
alarming development; after all, as noted at the outset, editors do
strong visual appeal with improved journalistic quality.
What is disturbing, however, is that in the prize process traditional
standards involving excellence in news writing and reporting have become
secondary to criteria involving newspapers' visual appeal. In a 1987
in which 257 editors of newspapers of all sizes (including weeklies)
responded, the author of the present study found that editors ranked
"strong local news coverage" number one in importance as a standard of
newspaper excellence. 95.7% of the editors rated this standard as
"essential" to newspaper quality. Ranked next in importance were accuracy,
good writing, and visual appeal, in that order. 98.4% of the editors
accuracy as an essential standard and 98.4% rated good writing as
essential. However, less than half the editors (44.7%) rated visual appeal
as an essential standard. The survey defined "visual appeal" as
attractive presentation of news through use of visual tools such as
typography, photography, graphics, color, layout, and design."
Given the results of that study, the present study suggests that the
journalism contest process wrongly places the greatest value on a
newspaper's visual appeal. If editors valued criteria in the contest
process the same as they valued newspaper excellence criteria in the
abstract, in contests they would place greater value on strong local news
coverage and good writing. The author of the present study suggests
contest emphasis on visual appeal as a criterion of newspaper
the result of the powerful bias of visual appeal. That bias is probably
explained, at least in part, by the time and space constraints in the
judging process. It may be, too, that a newspaper's visual appeal creates
an aura, or "halo," of attractiveness that affects contest judges'
evaluation of a newspaper's overall performance.
Several studies cited at the outset raised concern that news reporting
might suffer because of widespread adoption of USA Today-style
Several authors charged that this style of innovation puts too much
emphasis on entertainment values and not enough on informational values,
i.e., investigative, in-depth, explanatory journalism motivated by
for public service and the public's right to know. Results of the
study substantiate these concerns by showing that among the five pure
writing/reporting sub-categories, the feature story
of many stories that are light in substance and high in entertainment
value--is much more strongly associated with general excellence winners
than the sub-categories of investigative reporting and editorial.
This study offers several clues how newspaper contests might be improved,
so that criteria of judging better reflect editors' evaluation of the
importance of various standards of newspaper excellence. For one,
should enlarge the number of judges, and give the judges more time and
space to do their judging. The literature makes it clear that lack of
enough time and space is a common complain of contest judges, causing
to question the quality of the judging itself. The present study
that the constraints of time and space inadvertently bias judging in
of entries strongest in visual appeal. With more time and space,
could do more than catch the highlights of an entry (reading just the
headline and the first paragraph or two before rushing on to the next
Another suggestion is to eliminate or decontextualize visual elements of
entries in writing and reporting sub-categories. Thus, for example,
entries in pure writing/reporting sub-categories would be converted to
standardized type size and style and all peripheral design elements
be eliminated. Also, rules would be adopted to standardize all
and mounting of entries, especially in pure writing/reporting
Future research might survey contest judges to explore in greater depth
their concerns about the judging process and to elicit their
ways the process might be improved. Another potentially fruitful area of
inquiry would involve comparison of perennial winners of general
awards with non-winners, and assessment of the role of structural
variables in explaining why some newspapers are more likely than others to
win general excellence awards consistently. These variables would
newspaper ownership (group versus individual owner) and competition
(monopoly versus competitive situation). The researcher also might look at
longevity of management/ownership (how long the editor or publisher
associated with the newspaper) and education and professional
of editor and/or publisher. This sort of analysis might be combined
qualitative analysis in which the researcher conducts in-depth
with personnel at award-winning newspapers and non-winning newspaper,
that we get a better understanding of newspaper philosophy and
that are closely associated with journalistic excellence.
 Steve Pasternack and Sandra H. Utt, "A Study of America's
Front Pages: A 10-Year
Update," paper presented to the annu
al convention of the Association of
Education in Journalism &
Mass Communication, August 1994, Atlanta, GA. See
also by same authors:
"Front Pages of U.S. Daily Newspapers," Journalism
61 (Winter 1984): 879-884; "How They Look: An Updated Study of
American Newspaper Front Pages," Journalism Quarterly 66 (Autumn 1989):
 George Albert Gladney, "The McPaper Revoluti
on: USA Today-Style Innovation at
Large U.S. Dailies," Newspa
per Research Journal 13 (Winter/Spring 1992):
54-71; George A
lbert Gladney, "USA Today, Its Imitators and Its Critics: Do
affs Face an Ethical Dilemma?" Journal of Mass Media Ethics
:1 (1993): 17-36. For a full discussion of contemporary newspaper
innovation as a reflection of market-driven values, see: Doug Underwoo
When MBAs Rule the Newsroom (New York: Columbia University
Howard Kurtz, Media Circus: The Trouble With A
merica's Newspapers (New
York: Times Books, 1993); James D. S
quires, Read All About It! The
Corporate Takeover of America'
s Newspapers (New York, Times Books, 1993).
 Robert Logan, "USA T
oday's Innovations and Their Impact on Journalism
urnal of Mass Media Ethics 1:2 (1986): 74-87.
 William B. Blankenburg
and Richard L. Allen, "The Journalism Contest Thicket: Is It
Time for Some Guidelines?" APME News 76, September 1974, 1, 7-9; Bob Ingl
"We're Drowning in a Sea of Media Awards," Masthead, Fall/
17-18; David C. Coulson, "Editors' Attitudes and
Behavior Toward Journalism
Awards," Journalism Quarterly 66 (Spring 1989
): 143-147; Tom McNichol,
"Proliferating Prizes: Too Much of
a Good Thing?" Washington Journalism
Review, July 1986, 35-37
 See Editor & Publisher awards special sections, 23 December 1972,
11-16, and 31 December 1994, 10J-43J.
 Blankenburg and A
llen, "The Journalism Contest"; Coulson, "Editors' Attitudes."
Zinman, "Should Newsmen Accept PR Prizes?" Columbia Journalism
Review, Spring 1970, 37-43; Blankenburg and Allen, "The Journalism
Contest"; McNichol, "Proliferating"; Coulson, "Editors' Atti
 Randal A Beam, Sharon Dunwoody, and Gerald M. Kosicki, "The R
elation of Prize-winning
to Prestige and Job Satisfaction," Journalism Qu
arterly 63 (Winter 1986):
 Blankenburg and Whit
e, "The Journalism Context."
 Coulson, "Editors' Attitudes."
lankenburg and Allen, "The Journalism Contest"; Coulson, "Editors' Attitude
 William Green, "Janet's World: The Story of a Child Who Never
Existed--How and Why It Came To Be Published," Washington Post,
 Blankenburg and Allen, "The Journal
ism Contest"; Coulson, "Editors' Attitudes."
 Laurence G. O'Donnell,
"The Reflections of a Pulitzer Prize Juror," Wall Street
rnal, 13 April 1982, 34; Mary Galligan, "Contested," Quill, May 1981,
 H. Allen White and Julie L. Andsager, "Winning Newspape
r Pulitzer Prizes: The
(Possible) Advantage of Being a Comp
etitive Paper," Journalism Quarterly 67 (Winter
 Cynthia DeRiemer, "Education Coverage in Award-Winning and Non-Aw
Newspapers," Journalism Quarterly 65 (Spring 19
 Kathleen A. Hansen, "Information Richness and Newspape
r Pulitzer Prizes,"
Journalism Quarterly 67 (Winter 1990): 93
 Ray Laakaniemi, William Green and Laurence Jankowski, "Winnin
g Weeklies: Common
Traits of Award Winners," Newspaper Rese
arch Journal (Winter/Spring 1992):
 Coulson, "
 Galligan, "Contested."
 Melvin Mencher, q
uoted in Galligan, "Contested."
 O'Donnell, "The Reflections."
John McCormally, "Who Cares About the Pulitzer Prize?" More, May 1972, 9.
 Thomas Griffith, "The Pulitzer Prizes: Giving and Taking Away," Time
, 15 May
 McCormally, "Who Cares," 9.
McNichol, "Proliferating," 37.
 McCormally, "Who Cares," 10.
lankenburg and Allen, "The Journalism Contest," 9.
 McCormally, "Who
Cares"; O'Donnell, "The Reflections"; McNichol, "Proliferating."
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 McNichol, "Proliferating," 37.
omas F. Cash and Claire A. Trimer, "Sexism and Beautyism in Women's Evaluat
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 "20/20 Takes a Close-Up L
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Jerry Adler, "Beyond the Bell Curve," Newsweek, 7 November 1994, 56.
Publishers' Auxiliary, 13 September 1983, 13-28; 24 September 1984,
1-28; 23 September 1985, B1-B16; 22 September 1986, 1-20; 5 October
1-20; 31 October 1988, 1-20; 30 October 1989, 1-20; 17
1-20; 16 September 1991, 1-20; 14 September
1992, 1-20; 13 September 1993,
1-19; 26 September 1994, 1-20.
 George Albert Gladney, "Newspaper Excellence: How Editors of Small
and Large Papers
Judge Quality," Newspaper Research Journal
11 (Spring 1990): 58-72.
Simple Correlation and Multiple Regression
of General Excellence on Predictor Variables
Independent Simple Mean
Variable Correlationa Valueb SD Betac Sig T
Feature story .54*** 1.5 .19 .219 .0003 Use of
photos .52*** 2.3 .41 .212 .0015
Typography .50*** 2.8 .48 .276 .0000
Writing/reporting .48*** 2.0 .30 .175 .0028
Special issue .47*** 1.4 .23 .113 .0706
Feature photo .44*** 1.7 .28
Sports feature .41*** 2.1 .46
Sports page .39*** 2.3 .47
Spot news .39*** 1.5 .25 .113 .0589
Sports column .34*** 1.3 .32 .136 .0389
Photo essay .33*** 1.9 .31
Spot photo .32*** 1.6 .31 -.125 .0766
Editorial page .29*** 2.3 .39
Coverage of arts .29*** 1.7 .57 .118 .0830
reporting .22** 1.1 .20
Sports photo .20** 1.9 .46
Use of color .20** 1.8 .36
Humor column .19** 0.9 .12
Serious column .17* 1.2 .23
Family page .17* 2.3 .37
Newspaper promotion .16* 1.5 .38
Editorial .15* 1.2 .25
Community service .15* 1.1 .22
coverage .15* 0.9 .31 -.154 .0064
coverage .14 1.3 .37
coverage .13 1.7 .41
Herrick editorial .09 1.4 .41
information -.06 0.2 .06
Cartoon .05 1.7 .48
Ad idea .01 1.2 .26 -.090 .0818
Notice .00 0.7 .40
aPearson product-moment correlation (r); 2-tailed; N=200.
bTheoretical range = 0-48.
c R2 = .563 (F = 22.04; df = 11, 188; p = <.0001). Beta = standardized
Multiple Regression Coefficients of Key Predictor
Indices on General Excellence
Predictor Indices Alpha Meana SD Betab Sig T
Visual Appealc .71 2.1 .26 .432 .0000
Writing-Reportingd .64 1.5 .15 .364 .0000
aTheoretical range 0-48.
bR2 = 452 (F = 81.35; df = 2, 197; p = <.0001).
cComponent variables: typography, photo essay, feature photo, use of
photographs, and color.
dComponent variables: editorial, investigative reporting, feature story,
spots news, writing/reporting.