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Information about Judging

Be a Judge. Sign Up Today!

Volunteer to judge the Northern Lights Contest. It's a wonderful opportunity to see what other organizations are doing and how they are doing it. Judging may inspire you, and it may validate the work you’ve been doing.

The time commitment depends on the number of entries in the category you will be judging. Last year most categories received between 3 and 8 entries. We ask judges to offer thoughtful comments about each entry, so it's not uncommon for judging all entries in a category to take a couple of hours. 

New This Year

MAGC is swapping judging duties with a government communicators association in Texas. This means you can judge a category you’re an expert in—no need to worry about conflicts of interest! And you’ll get a bunch of fresh ideas from another part of the country.

One other perk—judges get a $10 discount on their ticket to the awards banquet!

Judges Must...

  • Have at least three years professional experience in the categories they judge.
  • Be available to review all the submissions in their category. Assignments will be sent out around the last week in March and completed judging forms will be due April 20.

How the Contest is Judged

Judges give each entry in their assigned category a score from 0 to 100. The scores from all of the judges are averaged to determine the entry's score, which in turn determines whether or not the entry will receive a Northern Lights Award (first place), Silver Award (second place), or Bronze Award (third place) or Award of Excellence (honorable mention). Awards of Excellence are given to high-scoring entries that don't receive one of the ranked awards.

Judges’ decisions are final.

See the Contest Rules for further information about how entries are ranked, including how tie scores are handled.

Judges should take into account both the professionalism and quality of the entry, and the challenges of producing the entry—the amount of time available between idea and product, budget constraints, and available staff time to carry out the project and so on.

Judges are instructed in the importance of providing detailed feedback about entries, indicating areas of excellence and areas of suggested improvements. Many entries are submitted because our participants know that even if they don't win an award, there's great value in the detailed and thoughtful feedback we encourage our judges to provide.

About Our Judges

Our all-volunteer judges are professionals with at least three years of experience in a field related to the category they are judging. There are at least two judges for each entry.

Judges may include communicators from both the public and private sectors along with those outside of the immediate region. If you know someone who you feel would make a good judge please send them a link to this web page so they can learn more and sign up!

Instructions for Judges

Detailed instructions for judges are available on the Judging Instructions page.