MINNEAPOLIS — The National Scholastic Press Association has named 49 scholastic student newspapers and newsmagazines as finalists in its annual Pacemaker competition.
“The Pacemaker is the association’s preeminent award,” said Laura Widmer, executive director. “NSPA is honored to recognize the best of the best.”
The NSPA Pacemaker award has a rich tradition and the association started presenting the award to high school newspapers a few years after the organization was founded in 1921. Throughout the years, yearbooks, magazines, online sites and broadcast programs were added to the competition.
The 49 Pacemaker finalists represent 21 states and England. California sets the pace with eight finalists.
In all, 275 student news publications entered the Pacemaker competition. Two teams of three judges devoted two days to the judging and studied every entry discussing its strengths and weaknesses.
In the first round of the competition, the news publications competed against those of similar types — tabloid newspaper, broadsheet newspaper, newsmagazine and junior high/middle school.
When the process was finished, the 49 Pacemaker finalists were named. From that group, 26 will earn the Pacemaker award placing those publications in the top 10 percent. Four middle school/junior high publications are included on the finalist list.
Insights and observations from the judges about the Pacemaker winning newspapers will be posted when the Pacemaker winners are announced along with the names and professional bios of the judges.
In addition to demonstrating excellence in key areas including coverage, writing, editing, design and photography, the winning newspapers took risks and served as a strong voice for its student audience.
“The best newspapers and newsmagazines didn’t just recap school activities and sporting events, they delivered tenacious in-depth reporting and impartial and objective coverage,” said Gary Lundgren, associate director.
Print news publications are thriving in high schools across the country, Lundgren said.
“We have noticed a steady shift to the newsmagazine format,” he said. “More and more schools are using online news sites for day to day reporting and publishing quarterly newsmagazines for in-depth, long-form storytelling.”
In 2017, approximately 98 of the print news publications entered used a newsmagazine format.
In this competition, only the print news product was judged. A separate NSPA 2017 Online Pacemaker competition recognized 38 online news sites in April. Several schools earned Pacemaker honors for both their print and online products.
Pacemaker finalists will be recognized and the Pacemaker winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention, Nov. 16-19 in Dallas.