In November 2003, cable public-affairs professionals submitted hundreds of 2004 Beacon Award entries to the CTPAA. For more than a month, CTPAA staff processed the awards, then began preparing for two rounds of Beacon Award judging in January 2004.
The first round of Beacon Award judging was held at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) building in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 14 and 15. During an orientation Wednesday morning [Jan. 14], Brian Wirth, vice president, government and public affairs, Time Warner Cable, and chair of the Beacon judging operations workgroup, led the first-round judges through an in-depth review of judging procedures. Frank Gallagher, assistant director of education, Cable in the Classroom, joined him to introduce the scoring rubric.
Fifty-five judging volunteers were divided into eight groups that would review approximately 45 entries each. A bailiff, an experienced Beacon Awards judge, led the groups through the judging process and was on hand to answer any procedural questions. Each judge completed a judging form for each entry, and the judges' scores were averaged to produce the entry's first-round score. A first-round entry had to score 89 points or higher to advance to the final round of Beacon Judging.
On Jan. 29, after a brief judging orientation, 39 senior public-affairs professionals judged the 148 entries that advanced to the final round to determine which ones were finalists and 2004 Beacon Award winners. A final round entry had to score 80 points or higher to be deemed a Beacon Award finalist. CTPAA announced the 2004 Beacon Award finalists on Feb. 10.