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Make it So! Judges Go Where No Judges Have Gone Before
2004, Q4 (June 25, 2007)
By Ann-Marie Grissino

Warp engines are failing! The Borg are gaining on us! We need more energy! Answer the Star Trek Jeopardy questions to get the necessary dilithium crystals (an energy source for man and warp engines, a.k.a. rock candy)!

Had you attended the October 23rd STC Carolina Judge Team and Training session, held at the IBM Recreation Center, you would have heard these phrases and would have gained insight into how judges evaluate entries to our local competitions.

Picture 50 prospective judges plodding in on a Saturday morning at 8:30. These dedicated individuals found coffee, bagels, and an assortment of breakfast goodies awaiting them along with their “communicator” badges and judges’ packets, which had been prepared by Terry Smith and Steven Meeks. Inside the packets were a Star Trek labeled CD, competition calendar, and judges’ guidelines. After the breakfast goodies, judges entered the “mission center” to see an historic film (a vintage Star Trek flick).

Next, Ann-Marie Grissino introduced Jim Stoots from PCII, who spoke about how to judge art entries. Jim’s scientific photography has been shown around the world, placed on covers of prominent magazines, and selected for display in Disney Epcot’s Universe of Progress. Jim suggested that judges look at the work according to the “blink factor.” He explained that an entry should catch your eye very quickly, even in a blink. He also said that judges should look for pictures of the company and its workers doing their jobs. This helps the reader identify the location, the people, and the work.

After Jim’s talk, Alan Hutchinson and Meredith Blackwelder provided insights about the three national award levels, best of show nominations, and our new local “Most Improved” category.

The three national levels are Merit, Excellence, and Distinguished. All entries receiving Distinguished awards automatically are placed in the international STC competition. The new “Most Improved” category is for entrants who want to show a dramatic difference between what a publication was when it started and what it became after they finished. The three competition groups (Technical Art, chaired by John Simone; Technical Publications, chaired by Rich Vasconi; and Online Communication, chaired by Ann-Marie Grissino) reviewed the evaluation forms, evaluation criteria, and detailed judge comments about each entry. Michelle Corbin and Jennifer Raisig volunteered again this year and helped everywhere: greeting judges as they registered, distributing entries to judges, and answering general questions. Betsy Kent reinforced the need for detailed comments from judges and encouraged each judge to provide at least a page of comments. Lastly, Jennifer, Alan, and Meredith performed a mock consensus judging scene, evaluating a Star Trek website. How these three came to a consensus was something to behold.

Betsy gave out door prizes galore, including CD holders, chocolate, bags, and even a Star Trek DVD. Every judge received a goodie bag that included Tri-Doc highlighters, screen cleaners, pens, and candy.

We gratefully acknowledge IBM for hosting us at the IBM Recreation Center for a 3rd year. This year we had a great turnout of judges. We had almost 80 entries submitted to the chapter from our region and beyond. Even though in the past we have had entries from Israel, Canada, and California, this year our farthest submittal was from Maryland.

The judges have about a month to evaluate entries and complete consensus judging, where they decide as a group what award level, if any, the entry should receive. The judges also nominate entries for the three Best of Show awards (one for each competition). Submitters get the judges’ evaluations directly and find out the award level in January. We look forward to honoring award recipients in the spring.

Ann-Marie Grissino can be reached at amgrissino at keypointconsultants dot com. End of article.

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