Columbia Scholastic Press Association

CSPA is an international student press association, founded in 1925, whose goal is to unite student journalists and faculty advisers at schools and colleges through educational conferences, idea exchanges, textbooks, critiques and award programs.

Crown Awards

See the 2014 Scholastic Crown Winners

See the 2014 Collegiate Crown Winners


Crown Awards are the highest recognition given by the CSPA to a student print or digital medium for overall excellence.

Both Gold Crown and Silver Crown Awards are given each year.

The Crown Awards are available to members as part of the Regular Membership and Associate Membership.

A panel of Crown Judges assembles each year at Columbia University to view all entrants, whether they are newspaper, magazines, yearbooks or online media. Judges are experienced former advisers to student media, professional journalists who understand student media or professionals such as photographers or online specialists with particular expertise needed for the judging exercise.

No set number of Crown Awards is required; the awards are discretionary, based on the evaluation by the Crown Judges. Decisions of these judges are final. They consider all aspects of value to the reader or viewer: content, design or presentation, coverage, photography as well as writing and editing.

The Crown Awards are distinct from other awards given by the CSPA and they have no relation to its Medalist Critiques or to its Gold Circle Awards for individual excellence. Entry in these other programs is separate from the Crown Awards although CSPA membership provides the opportunity to enter several of them.

Gold Crown Awards were first presented in 1982 and Silver Crown Awards were added in 1984.

Statement on how Crown Judges are selected
Crown Judges are selected by the CSPA's Executive Director, in close consultation with the chair of the CSPAA's Committee on Judging Standards and Practices, who chairs the Crown Judging panels and supervises their work during the actual evaluations.

As a general guideline, the CSPA tries to rotate the judging panelists among different assignments to preserve continuity while also promoting fresh perspectives. These changes in perspective are brought  about by regularly adding new judges to the panels or by asking experienced Crown judges to work on different types of publications from one year to the next.  For example, a Crown Judge who has worked primarily with newspapers for several years may be asked to continue with yearbooks in another year, if that person has knowledge of both.

In response to a formal recommendation from the CSPAA Executive Board in 2007, Crown Judges will no longer include persons who are either employed by printing companies or paid by them as ongoing consultants.  For obvious reasons, Crown Judges cannot be recruited from among current publication advisers who may have entries among those being considered.

In general, all judging decisions are reached by consensus. However, in cases where Crown Judges recognize they have worked with a staff or adviser at a summer workshop or in another short-term training capacity, they are asked to recuse themselves from any consideration of that publication for Crown status. Other members of the judging panel will make those decisions.

The decisions of the Crown Judges are final.  Only when results are released by the CSPA should they be considered authoritative.

Questions, comments or concerns about the judging process should be addressed to the CSPA Executive Director.

For further information, contact the CSPA directly.