The judging panel, convened by Paula Fray, had an intense two-day session deciding on the finalists. Fray said, “We assessed a very large sample of South African newspaper journalism, and were able to conclude that the best entries were of superb standard.”

Hard news finalist and those commended are:
- Adriaan Basson - Inside Heath's World: City Press (Finalist)
- Louise Flanagan - 92 million: Zuma’s political elite benefit: The Star (Finalist)
- Angelique Serrao - Gauteng tollroads: The Star (Finalist)
- Boitumelo Tshehle - Hunger killed them: Sowetan (Commended)
- Mpume Madlala - Drug woman’s sister talks: Daily News (Commended)

Analysis, commentary and background finalists and those commended:
- Mia Malan - Abduction: Mail & Guardian (Finalist)
- John Yeld - Cop 17: Cape Argus (Finalist)
- Sam Sole - Making Meaning: Mail & Guardian (Finalist)
- Craig McKune - Lease fleece: Mail & Guardian (Finalist)
- Yusuf Omar - Cop 17: The Mercury (Commended)

Enterprise finalists and those commended:
- Sue Blaine - Dismay as Department sits on FET results: Business Day (Finalist)
- Yolande Stander - Death over the counter: Weekend Post (Finalist)
- Lebogang Seale - Raped by the justice system: The Star (Finalist)
- Liesl Pretorius - Size Matters: City Press (Commended)
- Liesl Pretorius - Phuza Nation: City Press (Commended)

Feature Writing finalists and those commended:
- Tanya Pampalone - In a Dainfern state of mind: Mail & Guardian (Finalist)
- Mia Malan - Saved by township treatment: Mail & Guardian (Finalist)
- Beauregard Tromp - The weight of water: The Star (Finalist)
- Mary Corrigall - The silent war: Sunday Independent (Finalist)
- Hanlie Retief - Melanie Steyn, My man die Sondag verkragter: Rapport (Finalist)
- Tanya Farber - Corrective rape portrait of a survivor & perpetrator: Cape Times (Commended)
- Jonathan Ancer - Adventures of an AWOL Chequebook: The Star/Cape Times (Commended)

Investigative journalism finalists and those commended:
- Adriaan Basson and Piet Rampedi - Malema’s secret fund: City Press (Finalist)
- Michael Kimberly and Msindisi Fengu - Dead on Arrival: Daily Dispatch (Finalist)
- Mzilikazi Wa Afrika and Stephan Hofstatter - Shiceka: The One and Only: Sunday Times (Finalist)
- Stephan Hofstatter, Mzilikazi Wa Afrika and Rob Rose - Shoot to kill: Inside a South African police death squad: Sunday Times (Finalist)
- Glynnis Underhill - Godongwana and the missing union millions: Mail & Guardian (Commended)
- Julian Rademeyer - Bloedspoor na die ooste: Beeld (Commended)
- Sam Sole and Stefaans Brummer - The memo that sank the arms probe: Mail & Guardian (Commended)

Creative journalism finalists and those commended:
- Tanya Pampalone - Confessions of Walmart shopper: Mail & Guardian (Finalist)
- Jonathan Ancer - Angry utterances: Cape Times (Finalist)
- Murray la Vita - Various – “Tuin van aardse luste”: Die Burger (Finalist)
- Thomas Falkiner - Kings of Fire: Sunday Times (Commended)
- Helen Warne - Monster Move: Sunday Tribune (Commended)

Editorial cartoons finalists and those commended:
- Themba Siwela - Corruption cripples SA: The Citizen (Finalist)
- Jonathan Shapiro - Mac Maharaj side-order: Mail & Guardian (Finalist)
- Cuan Miles - Polar Bear – 'chillin’ in Durbs': Daily Dispatch (Finalist)

Graphic journalism finalists and those commended:
- Jaco Grobbelaar - South African’s global arms exports: City Press and Rapport (Finalist)
- Rudi Louw - U2 – Rock Revolusie: Rapport/Graphics24 (Finalist)
- Morne Schaap - Die pil vir amper Alles: Graphics24 (Finalist)
- John McCann - Mugabe Headlock: Mail & Guardian (Commended)

Popular journalism finalists and those commended:
- Prince Chauke - Mbalula: My sex, my shame: Sunday Sun (Finalist)
- Yolanda Barnard - Mark Fish en die strippers: Sondag (Finalist)
- Warda Salvester - Little hands do devils’ work: Daily Voice (Finalist)

News photographs finalists and those commended:
- Antoine de Ras - Mogadishu Madness: The Star (Finalist)
- Alon Skuy - Desperate for aid – Stampede: The Times (Finalist)
- Courtney Africa - Congo Protest: Cape Times (Finalist)
- Simphiwe Nkwali - Crawling: Sunday Times (Finalist)
- Chris Collingridge - The Great Divide: The Star (Commended)
- James Oatway - Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Sunday Times (Commended)

Feature photographs finalists and those commended:
- Alon Skuy - Somalia Famine: The Times (Finalist)
- Antoine de Ras - The Long Road Home: The Star (Finalist)
- Antoine de Ras - Mogadishu Madness: The Star (Finalist)
- James Oatway - Land of Veils and War Afghanistan: Sunday Times (Commended)

Sports photographs finalists and those commended:
- Matthew Jordaan - Super Steyn: Cape Times (Finalist)
- Deaan Vivier - Untitled Butch James somersaults over Pat McCabe: Rapport (Finalist)
- Theana Breugem - Disabled Bowling: Beeld (Finalist)
- Adrian de Kock - Polo Pigeons: The Star (Finalist)
- Denvor de Wee - Watch it Dude: City Press (Commended)

Presentation finalists and those commended:
- Arlene Prinsloo - Various – 'Tsunami': Rapport (Finalist)
- Quincy Tsatsi and Robyn Comley - Stampede: The Times (Finalist)
- Rudi Louw - 2011 The good, the bad and the great: City Press (Finalist)

Online reportage finalists and those commended:
- Tegan Bedser - I am Eastern Cape: Daily Dispatch (Finalist)
- Xolisa Hackula/Michael Kimberley/Tegan Bedser - Exhuming the Truth: Daily Dispatch (Finalist)
- Nadine Theron/Le Roux Schoeman /Werner Erasmus - Matrieks in Margate: Touchlab/Beeld/Die Burger – Media 24.

Online multimedia finalists and those commended:
- Demelza Bush and Nickolaus Bauer - Marching for Malema: Mail & Guardian online (Finalist)
- Demelza Bush/Vuvu Vena - Hillbrow - The danger some call home: Mail & Guardian online (Finalist)
- Lauren Clifford Holmes and Kwanele Sosibo - Farming for the Future: Mail & Guardian (Finalist)

The South African Story of the Year and, the Newspaper Journalist of the Year will be announced on the night of the awards ceremony.