Coming Soon: SNO Distinguished Sites 2023-2024

We know it’s the time of year when people like to trick and frighten their friends, but one thing that doesn’t scare the SNO Patrol is the opening of submissions for our Distinguished Sites badges, which happens next Monday, Oct. 2.

The Distinguished Sites badges are awarded to publications that meet our guidelines in the following areas:

  • Continuous Coverage

  • Site Excellence

  • Story Page Excellence

  • Excellence in Writing (Best of SNO)

  • Multimedia

  • Audience Engagement

All SNO Sites can submit for consideration for any (or all) of the badges via the SNO Badges tab in the site dashboard. Badge submissions are unlimited, and you’ll receive individualized feedback from our reviewers on each one.

Any schools that earn all six badges achieve SNO Distinguished Site status, which comes with a plaque, letter to your principal, and press release (all mailed to your school), plus a spot on our Award Winners page.

In addition, you can add a widget to your site to track your progress, then show off your Distinguished Site status for everyone to see.

At SNO, we hope that by helping students learn about solid online journalism practices through achievable guidelines, sites can be well on their way to achieving online news excellence. Because of that, we review and update the badge requirements every year.

Here are some of the major changes and updates for this school year.


  • All content submitted must be shot/recorded/produced by publication student staff members.

  • Videos and podcast episodes must be embedded as part of a story on your site.

  • A majority of photos in slideshows must be candid action shots.

  • Photo galleries must utilize the SNO Photo Gallery tools.

Story Page Excellence

  • This badge underwent a major overhaul to align with the new story page templates and tools.

    • You will be asked to submit five total stories that use at least four different story templates.

    • At least one story must contain an infobox.

    • At least one story must use the long-form story format with at least five segments.

    • At least one story will need to have unique design elements different from the default template, which can be changed by selecting the “Customize Story Design” box on the story editing interface.

Site Excellence

  • The standards for the Site Excellence badge, which focuses on web design, can now be assessed either on the live site OR on the design draft. You get to choose.

To view the rest of the 2023-2024 Distinguished Sites Badge Guidelines, click here.

As always, if you have any questions about the Distinguished Sites program, or anything else related to your site, please don’t hesitate to reach out.