New co-chairs plan to revive, revamp MNCC, seek judges
Athens, GA - We are revamping our venerable clip contest, the Monthly News Clip Contest (MNCC), which has existed for decades — possibly since 1964. We want to acknowledge and express appreciation for the volunteers who do the heavy lifting that goes into all of the NPPA contests. We are at a juncture to facilitate technical efficiency and desired growth in the MNCC.
The new national co-chairs of the MNCC contest are Sean Elliot and Pu Ying Huang. Elliot is director of photography at The Day in New London, Connecticut, and is a past two-term NPPA president and current chair of the ethics committee. Huang is the photo editor at The Texas Tribune.
“This clip contest has resonated with me for almost 30 years because of the grassroots nature of it,” Elliot said during a phone interview. “It’s not BOP or POYi, it’s the rank and file of the members who can show their work. It’s fallen off, and the lack of timely results has hurt us. I firmly believe there are enough people out there who can support this contest. My hope is to build a sense of community and do more than recognize a handful of people.”
“I’ve been an NPPA member since 2017, the year that I committed to being a full-time freelancer,” Huang wrote in an email. “The MNCC can be a great contest that brings us closer together — a chance to engage in friendly competition, feature intentional work, and learn something new. But there's work to be done. Sean and I are committed to the massive undertaking of coordinating logistics across 9 regions to judge clips and post them in a timely manner.”
“We need efficiency going forward,” Elliot said. “Volunteer work has required around 20-plus hours a month. Volunteers in the NPPA are our lifeblood, but we need to reduce the hours to make it sustainable.”
“Timeliness of the results and the quality of the feedback by the judges is extremely important to Elliot. “And we need judges.”
Huang agreed. “I will focus on organizing our efforts and building a sustainable system with efficient and intuitive workflows,” she wrote. “Paired with Sean’s deep knowledge and my fresh perspective, we will preserve the contest’s original spirit while enabling it to thrive for the future.”
Elliot wants to create consistent monthly feedback to create high standards and conversations. The goal is “comprehensive judging as a value-added for members,” Elliot said.
Judges can expect a commitment of about two hours per session to provide feedback and commentary about what works and what doesn’t work.
Short term: We need judges. If you can help, please reach out to your region’s chair (the list is below).
Long term: “At the moment, that's a couple of things: a new tracking spreadsheet for the national and regional clips chairs, and creating a set of concrete expectations, training resources for the regional clips chairs to improve communication and efficiency. The second part concerns setting standards for the judging process, mostly around the commentary,” Elliot said.
At this time, the regional clips chairs are actively recruiting judges to round out the roster for 2022 and set the foundation for 2023.
“We have an ambitious goal to get the 2022 contest ‘caught up’ by the end of the summer, and this needs volunteer judges who can complete the process in a timely manner,” Elliot said.
“Historically, the competition has managed to name the regional photographers of the year by mid-January of the following year. (At the earliest, clips will not go to the judges until Jan. 11, 2023.) The clips for 2020 took several months to wrap, and 2021 is close to wrapping up,” Elliot explained.
“The goal, with 2022 ending on track, will be to push forward with new initiatives in 2023, bringing back the National Clips contest (which has been on hiatus these last two years) as well as improving notification to winners, and an expanded effort to publicize/promote the contest results.”
“The clips need to be more than a chance for a handful of members around the country to put a proverbial feather in their cap. The judging process needs to be as comprehensive and transparent as possible,” Elliot said. “And the recognition process needs to focus more on the aspects of the work we all aspire to and not just name the winners. We want to focus on visual literacy, journalistic competence and integrity — and it all needs to be done in a way that brings us together as a profession.”
“As staff jobs continue to shrink, publications move towards hiring more and more freelance photographers,” Huang noted. “Are we as an organization watching out for them? What can we do to help them feel like they too are an important part of this community? I definitely want more independent photojournalists and those working in non-traditional outlets to participate in the contest for a chance at feedback and recognition among peers. At the heart of this work is the desire to nurture this community of current and future visual journalists to be inclusive, supportive and inspiring.”
Watch for results on our website, newsletter, social media and in News Photographer magazine online.
Questions? Contact Sean Elliot or Pu Ying Huang.
**Special kudos to long-time member Jay Mather for sending us the archival photographs from 1974. If you have archival NPPA photographs, please let us know! The NPPA's 75th Anniversary is upcoming. Order your commemorative pins and challenge coins!
Contact your regional clip chair with any questions or to volunteer to judge. Here's the list, but they can also be found here on the website.
National Monthly Co-Clip Chairs
Pu Ying Huang
Sean D. Elliot
New England Region
The NPPA is divided into nine regions.
New England Region: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick
NY/International Region: New York, northern New Jersey, Ontario and a country outside of North America/Caribbean
Mid-Atlantic Region: Delaware; Maryland; Pennsylvania; southern New Jersey; Virginia; Washington, D.C.; West Virginia
Southeast Region: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, the Caribbean
Midwest Region: Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee
Central Region: Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut
South Region: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
West Region: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada
Northwest Region: Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, British Columbia, Alberta, Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory