Judging process
The judging process for the 2021 World Press Photo Contest will take place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The jury will judge the entries in several rounds over a six-week period, from 16 January to 23 February 2021.

The criteria for judging entries is a combination of news values, journalistic standards, and the photographer's creativity and visual skills. In the case of stories and long-term projects, the edit of the material submitted is also taken into account. English is the sole operating language of the contest and the juries.


Jury structure

Seven independent specialist juries first shortlists entries in eight categories. Each jury has a chair responsible for maintaining the integrity of the process, ensuring the deliberations are conducted in accordance with the highest standards, and that all jury members are fully involved in the judging process.

The juries have different names and compositions. The specialized juries are:
  • General News and Spot News jury, consisting of three members;
  • Contemporary Issues jury, consisting of three members;
  • Long-Term Projects jury, consisting of three members;
  • Nature jury, consisting of three members;
  • Environment jury, consisting of three members;
  • Portraits jury, consisting of three members;
  • Sports jury, consisting of three members.
An independent General Jury, a different set of jurors consisting of the 2021 Photo Contest jury chair and six other members, then selects the winners. The General Jury will be made up of jury members whose backgrounds and expertise cover the eight different categories of the Photo Contest.

The General Jury is assisted by a secretary. The secretary is responsible for all procedural matters and ensures the rules and procedures are fairly and properly applied. The secretary does not contribute to debate on the merits of any entry, and has no vote in the balloting.


Organizational support

Once appointed, the jury works independently and the World Press Photo Foundation executive director, staff, board, sponsors and partners have no influence on the outcome of the judging process.

The secretary is supported by a jury coordinator, who is a staff member of the World Press Photo Foundation. The coordinator is the principal conduit of information between the jury and the foundation on all procedural matters related to the judging. Throughout the judging process, the role of the World Press Photo Foundation staff is solely to manage the logistics of the judging process, including showing the pictures, providing captions, and recording which pictures are selected for the next round. No member of staff, including the jury coordinator, contributes to debate on the merits of any entry, and no member of staff has a vote in the balloting.

General procedures

  • The general procedures ensure a fair judging process and must be adhered to at all times.
  • Jury members cannot enter the contest in the year they are judging.
  • Each jury member, whether an ordinary member or chair, has one equal vote.
  • Jurors cannot abstain from voting at any stage of the judging process.
  • All proceedings and deliberations of each jury are conducted in confidence. Jurors are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement to ensure they do not reveal any details of the deliberations, or the identity of winners prior to the public announcement. This means jurors cannot discuss any aspect of the entries, debates or decisions, both during the process and after the announcement of the results, with anyone other than a fellow juror.
  • All entries are coded, with identifying information removed from the pictures so the work is judged anonymously. At no stage of the process - and in no discussion either in or outside the judging rooms - should jury members speculate on, or reveal, any names of participating photographers, agencies or publications.
  • In all categories the General Jury must award a first, second and third prize.
  • The General Jury must award the World Press Photo of the Year prize and the World Press Photo Story of the Year prize.
  • If jury members recognize they are personally involved in submitted work, through either a personal or professional relationship, they must declare their interest openly at the beginning of any discussions on the work. Conflict of interest will be checked during the judging process.
  • In later rounds, the secretary of the General Jury will check the credits of all remaining entries in the contest to see if jury members are required to declare any potential conflict of interest they have not yet acknowledged.
  • In situations for which the judging procedures do not provide, the secretary, in close consultation with the jury chair and the jury coordinator, will decide how to proceed. If no agreement can be reached, the World Press Photo Foundation, in the person of its Managing Director, will decide on the proper procedure.

Judging rounds

The contest has six voting rounds: the first, second, third, fourth and fifth rounds and the finals.

The voting system and process for each round for each jury, are detailed in the Judging Procedures handbook, which guides the judging process and is provided to each juror.

World Press Photo of the Year

The World Press Photo of the Year award honors the photographer whose visual creativity and skills made a picture that captures or represents an event or issue of great journalistic importance in that year.

Criteria:
  • Represents an event or issue of great journalistic importance in that year
  • Visual creativity and skills
There are six nominees for Photo of the Year and the winner will receive a €5.000 cash prize.

World Press Photo Story of the Year

The World Press Photo Story of the Year award honors the photographer whose visual creativity and skills produced a story with excellent editing and sequencing that captures or represents an event or issue of great journalistic importance in that year.

Criteria:
  • Represents an event or issue of great journalistic importance in that year
  • Visual creativity and skills
  • Editing and sequencing
There are three nominees for the Story of the Year and the winner will receive a €5.000 cash prize.