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Pictures of the Year competition judging kicks off Feb. 16 in record-breaking year

A record-breaking number of photos were submitted for the 78th annual Pictures of the Year competition. The competition has also introduced a new category, “COVID-19 Personal Expression.”

POY77 Daily Life Picture Story Award of Excellence: Aristide Economopoulos

POY77 Daily Life Picture Story Award of Excellence: Aristide Economopoulos

Feb. 15, 2021

It’s a year like none other for the 78th annual Pictures of the Year judging competitionwhich kicks off Feb. 16 with almost double the number of judges from previous years, virtual judging and a record-breaking number of photos submitted.

Entrants submitted more than 40,000 images, along with short films and online storytelling presentations, to the oldest and most prestigious photojournalism contest. In spite of the isolation and stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19, there were more entries in many of the categories than in years past, according to Lynden Steele, director of the program and director of photojournalism at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.

“This has been one of the most tumultuous years in memory and that is reflected in the pictures,” Steele said.

This year the contest introduced a new category, “COVID-19 Personal Expression,” and allowed entrants to submit an interpretive photo project that allowed photo manipulation, which is not allowed in other categories. Entrants were asked to submit work that “reflects the personal experience, feelings and thoughts related to COVID-19.” They received 200 of these artistic stories.

While the photos will still be broadcasted on screens in the Smith Forum in the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, all 28 judges will be judging the entries remotely via Zoom. There will still be some opportunities for students and classes to sit in and watch the contest in a socially distant manner. The public will be able to watch the judging. Visit the POY Facebook page for live streaming information.

This year’s judging schedule is:
  • News team 1, Feb. 16-17
  • News team 2, Feb. 19-21
  • Sports team, Feb. 22-23
  • Reportage team 1, Feb. 25-26
  • Reportage team 2, Feb. 28-March 1
  • Documentary team, March 3-4
  • Visual editing team, March 6-7

Read more from the Reynolds Journalism Institute

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