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Judging Instructions
Thank you for volunteering to judge the Minnesota Association of Government Communicators annual Northern Lights Contest. We sincerely appreciate your willingness to share your time and expertise.

Process and Timeline

Judges will receive the entries they are to judge on or about March 28, 2017. Scores and detailed comments are due by the end of the day April 10.

Each entry will be judged by at least two people. There is no set upper limit to the number of judges.

After the judging deadline, MAGC will tabulate and average the scores submitted by the judges. Judges will be notified of the results for their category after tabulation is complete and should immediately notify the Northern Lights committee of any concerns they may have with the reported results.

CONTEST RESULTS ARE CONFIDENTIAL DATA UNTIL AFTER THE AWARDS CEREMONY. Under no circumstances should judges share or comment on the results with anyone other than their fellow category judges and the designated judging representatives on the Northern Light Committee. Please help us keep the awards a surprise!

How to Judge an Entry

Submit Scores...

Judges must submit individual scores and comments for each of the entries they are judging via an online form. A link to this form will be provided to judges.

20% of the total score will be based on the clarity and completeness of the information provided on the contest entry form. The remaining 80% will be based on the quality of the project itself.

Judges, please read all of your category's entry forms in their entirety before beginning to judge the entries. In evaluating each entry, take into account:

  • The quality of the work done.
  • The challenges of producing the entry, including the amount of time available between idea and completion.
  • How well the project communicates the desired messages with the resources available.
  • Agencies that enter more than one project in the same category should not be penalized in any way.

Your scores will be combined with the scores submitted by the other judges in your category. The average score will determine the outcome of the contest. An explanation of the standard competition ranking system used in the contest can be found in the Contest Rules.

... and Provide Detailed Comments

Many participants enter the Northern Lights Contest because of the excellent quality of the feedback our judges are known to give. We ask that you build on the good work done by past judges.

Please provide detailed comments wherever requested on the judging form, and be as specific as possible. Comments should touch on the entry's strengths and should also include suggestions for improvement. Remember that your feedback is greatly valued by contest participants. 

Best of Show Nominations

Best of Show nominations represent the best in government communications from the past year.

  • Each judge may nominate at most ONE entry for Best of Show.
  • Judges are not required to nominate any entry for Best of Show. Nominate an entry only if you deem it to be of truly outstanding quality.
  • A nomination for Best of Show will only be considered if the entry receives a Northern Lights Award, which is granted based on the combined scores of all the judges for that category.

The MAGC board or its designees will select a single Best of Show winner from the nominated entries. No person with a conflict of interest may participate in the Best of Show selection process.

Conferring With Other Judges?

Some judges find value in meeting with the other judges for their category, by phone or in person, to discuss and compare impressions of the entries before assigning scores. This is not required; it is just as true that other judges prefer the convenience of scoring the entries and writing their comments individually.

Feel free to arrange a meeting with your fellow judges if that is your group's preference.

If you do confer as a group, DO NOT submit one score as a "group score." In the interest of fairness and consistency, each judge is required to submit their individual scores and individual comments for each entry being judged.

Conflicts of Interest

Judges must recuse themselves if asked to judge a category in which they have a conflict of interest. For example, it is a conflict of interest when a judge scores an entry that is from an organization employing the judge or an organization contracting services from the judge.