The Joy of Judging in the 2018-2019 WDCB Technical Communication Competition

We are Looking for Competition Judges!

medium image of Chesapeake Bay and Mid Atlantic states
Chesapeake Bay and Mid-Atlantic States
Photo credit: NASA/USGS/Landsat

Judge Applications are now being accepted. We will accept judge applications through 26 November 2018.

If you are ready to experience the joy of judging, we need your help.

Entries are arriving for the Washington, DC – Baltimore (WDCB) chapter's 2018-2019 Technical Communication Competition. Would you like to see them? Are you ready to help evaluate them? If you think you may be, here's a brief summary of what's in store.

The Call for Entries in our technical communication competition was announced on 10 September. More announcements about the competition will appear in websites, blogs, tweets, and lists. The competition is coming together but we can not hold it successfully without the commitment of a group of qualified and enthusiastic judges. We recruit judges from among professional communicators in the Washington, DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas, and beyond. Membership in STC is not a requirement.

Judges Training

The deadline for entries is 10 November 2018. Between 11 November and 26 November, entries are logged and team judging assignments are made for each competition category. on 27 November, the entries are sorted into packages for each team for the Entries Pick-Up and Judges' Training meeting.

On Saturday, 1 December, the judges assemble to receive their judging materials, entries, and instructions. They meet the other members of their judging team, get training from experienced judges on how to evaluate an entry, and have their questions answered.

Judging Teams and Consensus Judging

Over the next six weeks, judges read and examine their assigned entries. They discover—or rediscover—the joy of encountering excellence in published manuals, reports, training materials, journals, brochures, marketing and PR materials, magazines, help systems, websites, user support materials, and more. As they begin to form opinions and record their evaluations in the judging forms, the judges apply all the knowledge and experience at their disposal. They prepare their comments for the entrants and a defense of their decisions for the consensus meeting.

On Saturday, 12 January 2019, the judges meet for consensus to discuss the entries and decide which ones deserve an award based on specified criteria. Entries are not judged against each other. Some entries stand out as award winners; others elicit debate. The judges relish the opportunity to compare notes on design, presentation of information, layout, and overall quality of an entry. You will review how each judge evaluated an entry in their team's categories and concur on the award to be given to each entry. After discussing an entry with the other judges on your team, you may decide to change your evaluation scores or comments to come to a consensus for the award your team will give an entry. After each award is determined, the judging team will select one or two from your team's entries to nominate for Best of Show. The Best of Show judging team then assesses the nominees and selects the Best of Show and the Best Student Entry. Veteran and new judges leave the Consensus Meeting with a sense of a job well done. They have judged the work of their peers and shared their passion for excellence in communication. Many are eager to do it all over again in future years.

For questions, contact the competition manager, Tavia Record, at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

The Joy of Entering the 2018-2019 WDCB Technical Communication Competition

medium image of Chesapeake Bay and Mid Atlantic states
Chesapeake Bay and Mid-Atlantic States
Photo credit: NASA/USGS/Landsat

Entry deadline: 7 p.m. Eastern Time,
Saturday, 10 November 2018

You are invited to submit your best work to the scrutiny of your fellow professionals in the chapter's 2018-2019 Technical Communication Competition. Now is the time to consider what you want to enter and get it prepared.

The STC Washington, DC – Baltimore (WDCB) chapter continues to hold a local technical communication competition. This post continues our tradition of presenting some reasons why you might enjoy entering the STC WDCB Technical Communication Competition.

Are You an Award-Winning Technical Communicator?

For those of you who haven't entered before, let me explain the basics. STC competitions recognize and encourage excellence in technical publications, both online and print. Our chapter competition receives entries from DC, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as from other states and from other countries. Washington, DC and Baltimore metropolitan area experts and some remote online judges gather to evaluate the entries in the competition. The judges provide written feedback on the strengths or weaknesses of each entry with reference to a standard in each category. The judges make recommendations that you may apply to future endeavors. Many entrants regard this feedback as a valuable part of their participation.

Some of the joys of entering are the pride you have in putting forth your best work, the validation you feel by being measured against the highest standards in our profession, and the opportunity to receive a knowledgeable and thoughtful critique of your entry. As an entrant, you are proud of your accomplishments. You and the judges realize that the final entry represents months of planning, writing, editing, and publishing.

Submitting a publication or online entry is a great way to keep growing in a fast-paced industry. Having your decisions and standards recognized by industry experts is real insider validation! Awards can bring recognition from professional peers and increased visibility with employers and clients.

As an entrant, you'll be invited to our Awards Celebration, where all winning entries are on display. You will be able to see what others in our field are producing. The Awards Celebration is also a place to network with the technical communication community.

Who is Eligible to Enter?

Anyone is eligible to submit entries. You do not have to be a member of STC. You can be a full-time student or a professional. You may enter work as an individual or for a colleague or member of your department.

What Can You Enter?

Technical, scientific, medical, or research content for external or internal audiences produced or revised within 24 months preceding 1 September 2018. These include websites, blogs, journals, teaching material, computer software and hardware manuals, books, magazines, periodicals, research papers, posters, scholarly or trade news articles, online help for software applications, and user support materials. Entries may also include marketing and PR material from a technical organization such as brochures, catalogs, flyers, technical advertisements, promotional websites, corporate identity, newsletters, annual reports, policies and procedures, and employee guides. For more information, see the Chapter Competition Entry Rules and the descriptions of the Competition Categories.

Full-time students may submit entries that are prepared for and accepted for publication by a client, employer, or publisher. The entries by student winners of Distinguished Technical Communication and Excellence awards may continue on to the STC international-level competition when it is held.

Students can gain much from professional evaluation of their work Student entries that have not been prepared for and accepted for publication by a client, employer, or publisher will be accepted in the STC WDCB chapter's competition. While such entries will be judged in our local competition, they cannot advance to STC's international competition because they do not meet the publication acceptance requirement.

STC is restructuring the international-level competition and will not be holding the International Summit Awards (ISA) competition for 2018-2019.

By entering the competition, you help educate clients and employers about what technical communicators do. Your entries demonstrate the value technical communicators bring to a product by providing the right information, in the right way, at the right time to make life easier and more productive for product support staff and users.

You are proud of your accomplishments. Enter the competition and enjoy showing us your best work. Good luck!

Notices will be sent in late January 2019 to let all entrants know if they won or didn't win an award.

For questions, contact the competition manager, Tavia Record, at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

2018-2019 Call for Entries in the WDCB Technical Communication Competition

The Washington, DC – Baltimore Chapter's 2018-2019 Technical Communication Competition is OPEN! This call for entries is your invitation to participate in the competition. Enter your best work to receive valuable feedback from professionals in the field and potential awards. Information about the competition is at Entry forms and judge applications are available for downloading from the competition website.

The entry deadline is 10 November 20018 so we're giving you plenty of notice. Prepare now to participate in the competition and send your entries in as soon as they are ready—deadlines have a pesky way of sneaking up on you so please don't leave it to the last week. 🙂

Anyone is eligible to submit entries. You do not have to be a member of STC. You can be a student or a professional. You may enter work as an individual or on behalf of a colleague or member of your department.

If you are interested in providing feedback, volunteer to judge and evaluate entries. See the Call for Judges for more information.

Download the flyer to hand out to friends or post at work: 18-19 WDCB Competition flyer (.pdf).

For questions, contact the competition manager, Tavia Record, at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Photo of the 18-19 Competition flyer

Thank You to the Participants in the 2017-2018 Technical Communication Competition

Thank You to all the Judges

Thank you to the Judging Manager, Ann Ray, and to all the volunteer judges who reviewed and evaluated the entries to the 2017-2018 Technical Communication Competition.

  • Richard Bogacz
  • Jackie Damrau
  • Brian Dinterman
  • Sue Heim
  • Marsi Fein Miller
  • Nancy MulĂ©
  • Ann Ray
  • Tavia Record
  • Annette Reilly
  • Jennifer Staley
  • Marty Taylor
  • Lloyd Thompson-Taylor

The success of the competition depends on your dedication, time, and energy in judging the Washington, DC – Baltimore Chapter's Technical Communication Competition. We are honored to have your support and the competition can not be possible without you. Competition entrants frequently tell us that they appreciate the written feedback they receive from our judges. Your experienced and thoughtful feedback is the number one reason people enter the competition and is considered more important than the award itself.

List of Winners

We also want to thank all the technical communicators who submitted their work to the competition. An awards celebration was held in April to hand out the awards and honor the entrants, the judges, and the competition committee. (See the published event review.)

The full list of the winners with their entry names and awards is posted in the Competition Website at

Awards & Entry Statistics

Table contents

The first column shows the entry statistics, the second column shows the number of awards.

Entry Statistics Award Breakdown
Total entries: 23
Total award winners: 18
Distinguished: 4
(includes 1 Publications Best of Show)
Excellence: 4
Merit: 10

Distinguished Technical Communication

Russ Banham, Magda Saina, Erin Richardson, Geoff Brown, Margaret Brown
Johns Hopkins APL

Erin Richardson, Ken Moscati, Diane Dorsey, Gloria Crites, Shannon Nelson, Matt Baughman
Johns Hopkins APL

Natalia Melcer, Marissa Mills, Stacey McCray, Holly Haun, Brent Hopwood
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Kris Christen, Stacey McCray, Brett Hopwood, Judy Wyrick, Holly Haun, Peter Thornton
Oak Ridge National Laboratory


Caleb Heidel, Annie Marcotte, Claudia Yee
Johns Hopkins APL

Lindsay Kishter, Akhlesh Kaushiva, Hank Kenchington, Annie Best, Jennifer Ganss
Nexight Group

Joan Travis, Melissa Kulm, Chalon Emmons, Dave Jacowitz

Sally Heldrich, Leah Reesman, Rebecca Tanguay


BICSI Worldwide Headquarters, BICSI Technical Information and Methods Committee, TI&M OSPDRM 6th Edition Review Team”

Lucinda Metzger
CA Technologies

Abbie Tioseco

Abbie Tioseco

Tracey Crowe, Phoebe Brown, Julie Chappell, Valerie Riedel, Chad Gallinat
Energetics Incorporated

Sarah Lichtner, Lindsay Pack, Jim Davis, Ross Brindle, Rob Foy, Jim Wetzel
Nexight Group

Jared Kosters, Lindsay Pack, Uday Vaidya, Jack Holmes, Ross Brindle
Nexight Group

Beth Ward, Lindsay Kishter, Jack Eisenhauer, Jim Carey, Jennifer Ganss, Ginger Norris, Mike Wallace
Nexight Group

Jason Grinblat, Veronica Schmiedeskamp, Ted Kuster

Liem Budzien, My-Linh Budzien
Thomas Jefferson High School

Thank you for participating and making the competition a success. We hope to see your entries in future competitions.

The 2018-2019 Competition

We are in the planning stages for the upcoming 2018-2019 Technical Communication Competition, which will open later this year. Watch for information about the deadline date and entry rules in the Competition website. Interested competition judges and competition sponsors should contact the competition manager, email hidden; JavaScript is required.

The Fourth Estate Award Call for Entries

emblem for the American Legion

The Fourth Estate Award is presented annually by The American Legion to a publication, broadcast organization, and online (Internet-based) media for outstanding achievement in the field of journalism. Winners are expected to attend the presentation of the award at the American Legion 100th National Convention which will be held August 24 – 30, 2018, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A $2,000 stipend accompanies each award, to defray expenses of the recipients accepting the award at The American Legion National Convention in August. Individual award pylons are presented to the principal contributors, in addition to a large organizational award.


The deadline for entry is March 1, 2018.


There is no entry fee

Download entry form .pdf

Submit Fourth Estate Award entries to:

The American Legion
Media & Communications
Attn: John Raughter
700 N. Pennsylvania St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Entry Rules

Entries must have been published or broadcast during the calendar year immediately preceding the date the award is given.

Subject matter must deal with a topic or issue of national interest or concern; submissions must include documented evidence or a statement from the entrant describing how the work brought about change for the better or had a positive, measurable societal impact. Each entry must include a cover letter explaining the entry.

Originals must be submitted for all print entries. Audio CD for radio entries and DVD, digital format or website for television entries are required. Internet media products should include print pages of applicable sites as well as the URLs. Individuals, publications, and broadcast organizations may submit as many entries as they like, but each entry must be accompanied by its own cover letter on company letterhead with the signature of the submitting authority, the submission form and any supporting documentation.


All entries will be judged by members of The American Legion Media & Communications Commission. All entries become the property of The American Legion. Non-winning entries will be discarded unless specific return instructions have been provided.

Past Winners

The Fourth Estate Award has been given annually by The American Legion since 1958. All winners from 1958 through 2017 are listed at the bottom of The Fourth Estate Award page.