Central Michigan University
Each year, the Associated Collegiate Press recognizes excellence in student media with collegiate journalism’s preeminent award, the Pacemaker. Pacemakers are awarded in each category of publication — online, newspaper, yearbook and magazine.
Entries are judged by teams of professionals based on the following criteria: coverage and content, quality of writing and reporting, leadership, design, photography and graphics.
ACP contacted Dave Clark, adviser of Central Michigan Life, the student-run newspaper of Central Michigan University for a Q&A. Central Michigan Life won a 2015 Pacemaker for four-year non-daily newspaper.
ACP: Tell us a little bit about the editors and staff of your Pacemaker-winning publication.
Dave Clark: Central Michigan Life is an extracurricular activity that requires a great deal of time, maturity and dedication. The experiences that staffers have prepare them for internships and to be productive members of professional newsrooms on Day One.
Each semester we hire 100-130 students who work as editors, reporters, photographers, graphic designers, multimedia creators, social media marketers, public relations professionals and “street team” marketers and promotions staff.
ACP: How did the staff ensure the quality of the publication?
DC: Students take the lead in all aspects of quality control. Thanks to the expertise of our wonderful faculty, students are able to take what they learn in the classroom and put it into practice while working for Central Michigan Life.
ACP: Is there any one issue, story, or photo package that stood out most during the year?
DC: After an 18-year-old visitor drowned in a pond on campus during homecoming weekend the staff took a hard look at the relatively new phenomenon of “event drinking” — binge drinking centered around a date that often results in blackouts and injuries. The main bar was brilliantly written and excellently sourced.
Another story provided a moment-by-moment account of the visitor’s final hours via police reports. Other stories explored the number of security cameras on campus and the “amnesty” program that allows students to call 9-1-1 without fear of prosecution for alcohol- and drug-related emergencies.
ACP: What qualities will you remember most about this Pacemaker-winning staff?
DC: Our staff was passionate about journalism and empowered — by me and the editors — to take risks. The students were committed to being a strong voice on campus and being relevant to students’ lives.
They pushed us to redesign and rethink our print product — too many print editions were being left in news racks.
ACP: What does the Pacemaker mean to you and your staff?
DC: It is a validation from our peers in the college media world that we are achieving excellence.