Pictures of the Year competition judging kicks off Feb. 10

A panel of judges will soon pore over more than 30,000 images, along with short films and online storytelling presentations from photojournalists from about 80 countries as part of the upcoming 77th Pictures of the Year competition judging.

The judging of the oldest and most prestigious photojournalism competition will take place Feb. 10 through March 3 at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. POY is a program of RJI at the Missouri School of Journalism.

This year’s competition is broken into four divisions — news, sports, reportage and team — that consist of 35 categories including Impact 2019 – Immigration Status, Local News Picture Story and Photographer of the Year, Local. The team division replaces the multimedia division this year to help recognize the collaborative effort of some visual storytellers, says Lynden Steele, director of POY.

“Even though POY is 77 years old, we are constantly evolving,” says Steele. “This year we changed the name of our premiere category from Newspaper Photographer of the Year to Photographer of the Year, Local. This award honors photographers working in their own communities and was limited to staff photojournalist. We now accept entries from independent and staff photographers.”

The submissions will be judged by 18 judges who come from diverse backgrounds and expertise.

Included among the judges and the various divisions they’ll help judge are:

Michelle AginsMichelle Agins, a staff photographer for The New York Times who has also shot photography for The Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer, the city of Chicago and its mayor Harold Washington (news)

Mito Habe-EvansMito Habe-Evans, the supervising video producer at National Public Radio who developed NPR’s signature documentary style with What Democracy Looks Like and One Nation Under The Sun (team)

Prashant PanjiarPrashant Panjiar, a self-taught independent photographer and curator from India (reportage) who has also worked as a photojournalist and editor at the Patriot newspaper, India Today and the Outlook Group of Publications. As a curator, he co-founded and curated the Delhi Photo Festival. (reportage)

Kay Chin TayKay Chin Tay, a Singaporean photographer and Missouri School of Journalism graduate (reportage)

Amy ToensingAmy Toensing, an independent photojournalist and filmmaker who is a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine (reportage)

“In addition to the photos, the judges themselves represent incredible talent,” says Steele. “If anyone is interested, they can come and talk with an editor working on international stories, or a photographer who covered protests in Hong Kong or one who shoots for National Geographic.”

RJI Fellow Jarrad Henderson, an Emmy award-winning videographer, photographer and filmmaker who currently works as a senior multimedia producer at USA Today, will serve as the moderator for the team division. Steele will moderate the remaining divisions.

POY recruits the help of Missouri School of Journalism students who help read captions to provide judges with more context, read the “in” or “out” commands, assist with audio needs and engage with the public on social media.

Viewing the competition

Judging is open to the public. People can watch in person in the Fred W. Smith Forum at RJI. Folks can also tune into Facebook Live. The livestream will be monitored and viewers are encouraged to submit questions or comments. There will also be times when the judges are available for discussions, says Steele.

This year’s judging schedule is:

  • News – Feb. 10-14
  • Sports – Feb. 17-19
  • Reportage – Feb. 21-25
  • Team – Feb. 28-March 3

The winners’ presentation and awards reception will take place on Friday, April 24. Some of the winning images will be on display at the Orr Street Studios during the month of April.

For more information about POY, visit

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