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Named after the founder of CTA and the state’s fourth superintendent of public instruction, the John Swett Media Awards are CTA’s highest honor for media professionals for their outstanding coverage of California’s public education and the labor movement.

John Swett founded CTA in 1863 and elevated the teaching profession as he served as California’s fourth superintendent of public instruction. For the first time, public schools became free for all to attend during his four-year term. The John Swett Media Awards emphasizes the same kind of commitment to professionalism Swett gave during his life of advocacy for all educators and students.


Honoring Excellence in CA Media Coverage 

The John Swett Media Awards celebrates outstanding coverage of community and campaign issues each year that have impacted California’s public schools, community colleges and the labor movement.

Thanks to CTA members interacting with the media, vital issues make it from the classroom to the newsroom, allowing the public and its elected representatives to understand the issues facing California’s public education and the labor movement. The John Swett Media Awards requires local chapters of CTA to nominate works by media professionals. Newspaper, radio and television editors, reporters, producers, directors and bloggers are all encouraged to be nominated.

Nomination Process

Nominations may be made by any CTA chapter president (local affiliate) or Service Center Council chairperson. Media representatives cannot nominate themselves or their colleagues. They are, however, encouraged to make inquiries about the possibility of nominations.

Local CTA chapters are urged to monitor the media in their areas, to collect samples of good journalism or make note of unusually good or thorough coverage, and to recommend that their local presidents complete and submit nomination forms. 


Judging of Nominees

Entries are judged by panels of independent media professionals outside of CTA. Past John Swett Media Awards judges have included publishers, editors, and reporters from newspapers, journals, magazines, and wire services, as well as people in every aspect of radio and television broadcasting. CTA removes itself entirely from the judging process, an impartiality that has added to the growing prestige of the competition within the print and broadcast communities. Judges base their decisions on their own professional expertise and experience. Their decisions are final.


  • Best News Story/Series (Print or Digital)
  • Best Feature/Series (Print or Digital)
  • Best Published Photograph (Print or Digital)
  • Best Column, Editorial or Opinion Post (Print or Digital)
  • Best Investigative Reporting (Print or Digital)
  • Best News Story/Series (Broadcast or Podcast)
  • Best Feature/Series (Broadcast or Podcast)
  • Best Student Journalism (in all forms)


The deadline has passed.

2023 Award Recipients