2021 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards
Deadline extended to Monday, February 8
About the 2021 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards

Launched in 1969 by the reporters who covered Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign, the prestigious RFK Journalism Awards honor a free and fair press and celebrate media professionals whose work explores issues of human rights, social justice, and the power of individual action. Awards are presented in 13 categories—spanning print, television, radio, photography, new media, and editorial cartoon—and are among the few determined by peers. Past winners include the Washington Post, National Public Radio, the Alabama Media Group, CBS’s 60 Minutes, ProPublica, Newsy, and the New Yorker.

Ceremony and Prizes

The RFK Journalism Award winner in each professional category will receive a cash prize of $1,000 and a bust of Robert F. Kennedy. The RFK Journalism Award Grand Prize winner will receive an additional cash prize.

Student award winners will receive a cash prize of $500 and a bust of Robert F. Kennedy to present to their school.

The RFK Journalism Award winners will be announced at the Book and Journalism Awards Ceremony, a virtual celebration taking place in June 2021. The winners' friends, family, or any other guests are also welcome to attend the ceremony. 

Rules for Entry

Deadline extended to Monday, February 8

  • All entries to professional categories must be accompanied by a non refundable $75 entry fee.
  • For the purposes of standardizing our judging process, we will only accept submissions in English.
  • Entries must focus on human rights, social justice, and the power of individual action.
  • Entries must include insights into the causes, conditions, and remedies of injustice and critical analysis of relevant public policies, programs, and private endeavors.
  • Entries must demonstrate journalistic integrity and courage.
  • Entries must have a strong overall impact and demonstrate professionalism.

Professional Journalism Awards

  • All submissions must have been first published or broadcast between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.
  • There is no limit to the number of entries, but a body of work can only win in one category.
  • There is a non-refundable $75 entry fee in all the professional categories. There is no fee to enter the high school and college categories.
  • Entries may be submitted by individuals or news organizations.

Additional category-specific rules and guidelines

  • Cartoon 
    • Submissions must be presented as a body of work. Single entries will not be accepted.
    • Please limit portfolios to no more than 15 cartoons.

  • New Media
    • Submissions may be a combination of traditional media and exclusively online content.
    • Entrants must upload the applicable media included in the story and may also provide a link to view any interactive media as they were meant to be seen online. 
  • Photography 
    • There is no limit to how many photos may be included in a series; however, no single-photo entries are allowed. 
    • Entrants should choose which subcategory to compete in—domestic or international—based on what their submission covers, not on the location of their news outlet. Any media source, foreign or domestic, can submit entries to either subcategory, but for the purposes of standardizing our judging process we will only accept submissions in English.

  • Print
    • This category is not limited to traditional print media and allows for submissions from web-only publications.
    • Entrants should choose which subcategory to compete in—domestic or international—based on what their submission covers, not the location of their news outlet. Any media source, foreign or domestic, can submit entries in either subcategory but for the purposes of standardizing our judging process we will only accept submissions in English.
  • Television
    • This category is not limited to traditional broadcast media and allows for submissions from web-only publications.
    • Entrants should choose which subcategory to compete in—domestic or international—based on what their submission covers, not on the location of their news outlet. Any media source, foreign or domestic, can submit entries in either subcategory but for the purposes of standardizing our judging process we will only accept submissions in English.

  • High School and College Journalism
    • There is no entry fee for high school or college journalism submissions.
    • Entries may be submitted by teams or entire classes but are limited to one per student. A school can have multiple entries.
    • Advisers/teachers may not shoot, write, or edit any part of a student entry. This is a hands-off contest and must be 100% student produced.
    • For the college journalism category, all mediums will be accepted.
    • Broadcast entries should not be longer than 10 minutes.

Entries that do not adhere to the rules above are subject to loss of points and/or disqualification by the judges. All decisions by the judges are final. The board of directors at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights reserves the right to change or amend these rules, at any time, and without notice.

Judging Criteria

Entries will be judged on a variety of criteria, including appropriateness of subject matter; quality of sources; depth of research; presentation; impact of the entry on the problem it highlights; and courage in reporting. Entrants must be able to authenticate their work.

In particular, judges will be looking for entries that reflect Robert Kennedy’s concerns, including human rights, social justice, and the power of individual action, and provide critical analysis of relevant public policies, programs, and private endeavors.

FAQ and Contact Information

Are there any limits to how many entries I can submit? 

No. You can submit as many entries as you'd like. 

Can you win in multiple categories? 

A news outlet can win in more than one category, but a journalist/body of work can only win once. From the honorees, the judges will select one Grand Prize winner and one Seigenthaler Prize winner.

What are the competition categories? 

Cartoon; College Journalism; High School Journalism; New Media; Photography: Domestic; Photography: International; Print: Domestic; Print: International; Radio; Television: Domestic; Television: International. 

What does it cost to enter? 

The professional categories require a $75 fee. There is no fee for high school or college student entries. 

Is there a prize? 

The prizes are $1,000 for each of the professional journalism award categories, and $500 for the student categories.

What do the international and domestic subcategories mean? Can I enter if my news outlet is based outside of the U.S.? 

Entrants in Photography, Print, and Television should choose which subcategory to compete in—domestic or international—based on what their submission covers, not on the location of their news outlet. Any media source, foreign or domestic, can submit entries in either subcategory, but for the purposes of standardizing our judging process we will only accept submissions in English.

In which categories can online-only news outlets compete? 

New Media is most likely going to be the best category for your work, but journalists from online-only publications are welcome to compete in any of our professional categories.

For more information about the submission process, please contact Marianne Johnson at 719-322-6896 or tme@rfkhumanrights.org.

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