Award Category & Specific Requirements

The Silver Gavel Awards recognize work in media and the arts in these categories: 


Full-length (at least 50,000 words) books of nonfiction with ISBNs. Only “hard copy” entries may be submitted (5 books).


  • Open to commentary, editorials, columns, criticism, editorial cartoons, blogs, and other opinion journalism, regardless of medium of production or dissemination (i.e., print, online, video, and audio entries are all eligible).


  • Film and video documentaries (non-fiction, unscripted), whether or not they were telecast on television, on the web, or independently screened. Companion websites may be submitted as part of entries.

Drama and Literature

  • Open to drama and literature, regardless of medium of production or dissemination (i.e., film, television, books and other media are eligible), including docudramas, episodes of dramatic television series, original dramatic films produced for general theatrical release or for television, novels, plays, and short stories.


  • Any article or series published by a magazine (periodical or journal). Magazines may submit both (or either) print and digital content.


  • Open to digital and other media entries not subsumed under other award categories. Includes entries representing multiple, hybrid, or convergent media, as well as those on mobile platforms. Must include substantial new content produced during 2019. Online entries must be submitted as ONE URL to be eligible. All digital entries must be publicly accessible through August 31, 2020. On the online entry form, include how the entry can be accessed (e.g., web addresses, app platforms).


  • Any news article or series published by a newspaper. This category includes investigative, explanatory and other deadline and non-deadline reporting, as well as features. Newspapers may submit both (or either) print and digital content. Open to dailies and weeklies.


  • Any audio program telecast by network, satellite, or individual radio stations. Included in this category are investigative, explanatory, and other deadline or non-deadline reporting, talk radio, and features. Also eligible are original audio webcasts or podcasts. Companion websites may be submitted as part of entries.


  • Any program (including documentaries) telecast by cable, network, or individual television stations during the period of eligibility. Also eligible are original video webcasts. Companion websites may be submitted as part of entries.

Required Formats for Entry Materials

Actual entry materials in all categories except books must be submitted online.

All book entries (with 5 books each) must be submitted “hard copy” by mail to the ABA:

2020 Silver Gavel Awards
ABA Division for Public Education
321 N. Clark Street, MS 17.2
Chicago IL 60654

Book Entry Hard Copies

When submitting book entries, you must include five copies of the books themselves. In addition, you must attach white cover pages, clearly visible upon immediate inspection. The cover page should clearly include the following: (1) the entry number (e.g., 01-111) assigned to your entry when you submit online (email confirmation to awards contact); and (2) the entry title, as submitted.

For all newspaper or magazine entries, legibility is essential, even if this requires PDFs of entry formats larger than 8-1/2” x 11”. To facilitate entry, special published reprints of original articles may be submitted.

Electronic Entry Submissions

Entrants have two choices for submitting actual entry materials electronically: uploading or linking.

Actual entries less than 10MB may be
(1) uploaded as a single file. Actual entries may also be submitted using the Online Entry Form as (2) linked URLs. The ABA requires that you consolidate each entry submitted to be accessible via one URL. You may link to actual entries, especially audio or video, uploaded to a hosting site such as YouTube or Vimeo. If your linked entry is password protected, please provide the password where requested on the entry form. Passwords will only be shared with ABA Silver Gavel Award reviewers. All links must remain publicly accessible throughout the awards period (January 7 – August 31, 2020).

Entry Fees

A $100 handling fee is required for each entry submitted. Entrants with multiple entries may submit combined payment. The deadline for payment is January 17, 2020. To pay by credit card, use the online form. To pay by check (payable to the ABA Fund for Justice and Education), mail with “hard copy” entry materials or separately to the attention of Christina Pluta, ABA Division for Public Education, 321 N. Clark Street, Chicago IL 60654. For any payment-related questions, contact Christina at 312.988.5719 or    
. The ABA FEIN is #36-0723150. If mailed separately, reference the assigned entry numbers (e.g., 01-111), name of organization, and entries. Hardship waivers may be granted, limited to one entry per entrant. To request, email and briefly state the reason.