My question is why?
There is no entry fee, and applicants may submit up to 16 images as part of a single entry, however, the requirements for the digital images submitted include this note:
"Important note: To ensure a fair and unbiased selection, entries are to remain anonymous. Submissions that contain a photographer’s name and/or contact information within the file name, caption field or metadata will be disqualified."The judges include a number of professional photographers, and unlike some other "contests" this one doesn't seem to be a rights grab, as Heart Corporation is only stating that they reserve "...the right to use the award recipient’s name, likeness, biographical information, and project images in perpetuity for publicity and promotional materials related to the Hearst 8x10 Photography Biennial and Hearst Corporation."
That seems fair enough, the photographer isn't giving up the rights for them to use their photos for anything they wish, or allowing them to license them to others. So again, I have to ask: why is having metadata in the image that identifies the photographer an issue? Are the judges going to be sent a CD, or directed to a website where they will view the images independently...and the folks from Hearst are afraid that someone will show favoritism if they can determine who took the photo?
However, wouldn't it be easier to simply process all the images that are shared with the judges and remove or replace any identifying information with a code that only they will know? This way, one set of the images has the photographers copyright and contact info for future reference. Besides, if they don't have some identifying information in the images, just how are they going to keep track of who has actually won?