The UK’s Bournemouth University Opens Its New Media Writing Prize to Entries

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The New Media Writing Prize is in its 13th year at Bournemouth University, and is open now for entries in digital, interactive works.

Details of opening artwork in several previous winning projects in the New Media Writing Prize

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Deadline for Submissions: November 25
The New Media Writing Prize at England’s Bournemouth University is described by its organizers as “an international award for digitally-born writing.”

Although this is its 13th year of operation, the program is much less familiar to many than the more standard golden-sticker contests.

Its full name is the Chris Meade Memorial UK New Media Writing Prize, so named for the late Chris Meade, a former director of BookTrust and the Poetry Society, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Meade enabled the program with sponsorship from his charity, If Book UK (not the same program as Italy’s IfBookThen).

The competition is internationally open to submissions of English-language content. Not only is it agnostic as to the country an entry may come from, but it’s also open both to professionals and others. As the program’s descriptive copy puts it, “Whether you’re a student, a professional, an artist, a writer, a developer, a designer or an enthusiast, the competition is open to all.”

And what’s interesting is that the project submitted needs to fit into only the broadest of constraints. “An engaging story” is the key, organizers say, “combining any number of media elements, such as words on a screen combined with images and video clips. New media writing can be created using a variety of tools [such as] a word processor, DV camera, social networking tools, mobile phone(s), a scanner, augmented-reality software–anything goes.”

Jim Pope, Bournemouth’s lead juror for the competition and principal academic in English and communication, is quoted, saying, “As a judge, I’m looking for great storytelling first and foremost, and then I want to be engaged with the potential of digital media and interactivity in ways that ‘old’ media can’t offer.”

“I’ve been involved in the New Media Writing Prize for a decade now,” says another juror, Lisa Gee, a research associate at Kings College London on the Ego-Media Project. “Judging the work is always inspiring and moving. I’d encourage everyone who creates interactive works, specifically in digital formats, to enter.

“The size of your budget doesn’t matter – we know that while some projects have big companies with deep pockets funding them, others are knitted by one person, from a shoestring and an idea that won’t leave them alone.”

Details for Entrants

As in many examples of media-focused work, it’s as useful to read the list of what’s not wanted as it is to read about what is:

The program’s list of “what we are not looking for” includes:

  • “We are not looking for a text-only story/poem which you simply upload to a web page or place on a disc
  • “Non-interactive Word documents of PDFs are not eligible
  • “We are not looking for screens of words uploaded to your blog, and we are not looking for a slideshow of photos uploaded to Flickr or a video uploaded to YouTube”

The real key to what’s wanted by this prize’s organizers is in this line: “It’s got to be something that couldn’t work in ‘old’ media.” That raises the bar considerably for anyone thinking about entering because it’s a requirement that the project need to stand outside normal storytelling delivery it order to be successful.

Organizers are looking for:

  • “Ease of accessibility for the reader/viewer
  • “Effective use of interactive elements.
  • “A great example of how new media can do things traditional media can’t
  • “The potential to reach out to a wide audience, not just specialist interest groups

Prize money totalling £1,000 (US$1,195) is offered by the digital-literature charity If:Book in the UK. The money is divided evenly between an “Opening Up Award” (£500) and a Digital Journalism Award (£500). The Digital Journalism Award also comes with a year’s membership to FIPP, the international media association.  A third award for a student entry is available.

Rules for entry can be found here, and one of the best ways to get a sense for what’s at hand here  is to look at past winning entries in the archive section.

Here, for instance, is Hagar Hesham’s Egypt’s Youth Center Don’t Cater to Female Athletes and here is a winning entry by Carla Pedret about religious persecution, titled The Exodus Data Project.

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 124th awards-related report produced in the 125 publication days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.


More from Publishing Perspectives on book and publishing awards is here, and more on the United Kingdom’s market, easily the busiest in the world with awards programs, is here.

And more from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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