The ACP Pacemaker Fall 2012


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An overview of ACP’s signature award, The Pacemaker, with examples from the 2011-12 finalists and winners, presented at the ACP/CMA National College Media Convention in Chicago, Nov. 3, 2012.

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The ACP Pacemaker Fall 2012

  1. 1. SETTING THE PACE What the winners look like ASSOCIATED COLLEGIATE PRESS Logan Aimone, Executive Director Recognizing excellence in student media since 1927. This presentation is available at: Permission is granted for educational use.Thursday, November 15, 12
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION The Pacemaker is the highest honor in collegiate journalism. For decades, it has recognized trend-setters and go-getters, effort and enterprise, achievement and talent. Today, the Pacemaker continues to recognize the best student journalism in the nation.Thursday, November 15, 12
  3. 3. KEEP IN MIND… The images seen in this presentation are Newspaper and Magazine Pacemaker Finalists from the 2011-12 academic year plus 2011 yearbooks. Winners will be announced for the first time at Saturday’s awards ceremony. Inclusion of a publication in this presentation does not indicate status as a winner. Do not read anything into whether an example was included here.Thursday, November 15, 12
  4. 4. WHO’S JUDGING? Pacemaker judges are professionals working in media as well as a range of experts familiar with student media. Judges for the 2012 ACP Pacemakers included working professionals, veteran college media advisers and teams from The Sacramento Bee, The Atlantic and Graywolf Press.Thursday, November 15, 12
  5. 5. WHO’S JUDGING? Judging is by team. We ask the media organization to compile a group with representation from various departments (writer, editor, designer, photographer, etc.). Entries are judged holistically. There is not a rubric with points attached to certain criteria. Judging is by nature somewhat subjective based on established standards of journalism.Thursday, November 15, 12
  6. 6. HOW DO THEY JUDGE? • The number of Pacemaker finalists and winners is proportional to the number of entries. • The number is not fixed each year, but about half of the finalists will be named winners. • This is a contest, not a critique. • ACP asks judges to provide general feedback on the finalists. Some teams are more thorough. Comments will be shared on our website as part of the winners gallery and in our book, The Pacemaker.Thursday, November 15, 12
  7. 7. WHAT DO THEY JUDGE? • Content • Quality of writing and editing • Presentation: Layout and design • Photography, art and graphics • Reporting: Type and depth (newspaper) • Editorial Leadership (newspaper) • Overall concept or theme (yearbook, magazine)Thursday, November 15, 12
  8. 8. CONTENT & COVERAGE • The publication should accurately reflect all aspects of student life, from academics to sports, arts to community news. • Newspapers should localize national or regional stories for their own campus communities. Wire or reprinted copy is discouraged.Thursday, November 15, 12
  9. 9. CONTENT & COVERAGE Solid news stories about improper police actions, a tuition increase and academic news comprise this page/ Daily Pennsylvanian University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pa.Thursday, November 15, 12
  10. 10. CONTENT & COVERAGE This coverage localizes national stories, connecting readers to the larger picture. Hard news fills out the front page. The Occidental Weekly Occidental College Los Angeles, Calif.Thursday, November 15, 12
  11. 11. CONTENT & COVERAGE A blend of hard news and features makes this page. Relevant topics about the cost of college are presented clearly and with prominence. Golden Gate Xpress San Francisco State University San Francisco, Calif.Thursday, November 15, 12
  12. 12. CONTENT & COVERAGE Stories here mix hard news about events with trend pieces on married undergraduates and community kitchens. The Chicago Maroon University of Chicago Chicago, Ill.Thursday, November 15, 12
  13. 13. CONTENT & COVERAGE Relationships — they’re front of mind for most students. Here, they’re compiled into specil coverage. Stories include how hobbies affect the relationship, hooking up and being a “player.” Inside Indiana University Bloomington, Ind.Thursday, November 15, 12
  14. 14. Ibis University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla. CONTENT & COVERAGE Yearbooks highlight concerns of the day and use excellent stories, photos and graphics to do so.Thursday, November 15, 12
  15. 15. WRITING & REPORTING • Writing should be crisp. Reporting must be thorough. • Copy should be clean and edited for consistent style. • Look at ACP Story of the Year winners for examples of excellence:, November 15, 12
  16. 16. PRESENTATION: LAYOUT & DESIGN • The publication should have a clean and contemporary look. • Visual hierarchy is established.Thursday, November 15, 12
  17. 17. PRESENTATION Classic modular layout is used here to present stories with a hierarchy. Bolder headline in center leads the eye. The Nevada Sagebrush University of Nevada, Reno Reno, Nev.Thursday, November 15, 12
  18. 18. PRESENTATION A contemporary look is achieved with the yellow boxes, bold type, tight leading and extra white space. Excalibur York University Toronto, Ont.Thursday, November 15, 12
  19. 19. PRESENTATION Another classic modular format is straightforward, simple and easy to navigate. The News-Register North Lake College Irving, TexasThursday, November 15, 12
  20. 20. PRESENTATION A strong feature package anchors the page, while harder news stories surround it. A clean design helps the page look contemporary without gimmicks. The Auburn Plainsman Auburn University Auburn, Ala.Thursday, November 15, 12
  21. 21. Agromeck North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. CONTENT & COVERAGE This spread about state fair food could be in any type of print media. And, it serves the reader.Thursday, November 15, 12
  22. 22. PHOTOGRAPHY, ART & GRAPHICS • Visuals enhance the verbal content and draw in the reader. • Quality of photos and art is technically excellent.Thursday, November 15, 12
  23. 23. PHOTO, ART & GRAPHICS The headline’s use of Twitter references and the bold illustration make the page attractive without relying on photography or only typography. The Heights Herald Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, Ky.Thursday, November 15, 12
  24. 24. PHOTO, ART & GRAPHICS A strong illustrative “billboard” photo illustration above the fold grabs the reader. The use of gray and red adds to the tone of the story. The Ithacan Ithaca College Ithaca, N.Y.Thursday, November 15, 12
  25. 25. PHOTO, ART & GRAPHICS The whole page is an illustration of the cover. It’s a fine line when using illustration, because too much whimsy implies less seriousness. Nexus Camosun College Victoria, B.C.Thursday, November 15, 12
  26. 26. PHOTO, ART & GRAPHICS Alluding to a blockbuster movie, this cover is actually an infographic and attractive. The Et Cetera Eastfield College Mesquite, TexasThursday, November 15, 12
  27. 27. PHOTO, ART & GRAPHICS A dominant photo can have impact, especially when it is taken from an unusual angle and cropped well. Union El Camino College Torrance, Calif.Thursday, November 15, 12
  28. 28. PHOTO, ART & GRAPHICS When focusing on an issue rather than a person, an illustration helps maintain focus. In this case, the topic of transgender life is explored. North by Northwestern Northwestern University Evanston, Ill.Thursday, November 15, 12
  29. 29. Sooner University of Oklahoma Norman, Okla. CONTENT & COVERAGE Fantastic photos are the hallmark of what makes a great yearbook.Thursday, November 15, 12
  30. 30. REPORTING: TYPE & DEPTH • Major stories should show evidence of multiple sources. • Series or in-depth pieces should be prominent.Thursday, November 15, 12
  31. 31. REPORTING A mega-story like the Sandusky abuse accusations doesn’t happen often. The Collegian staff uses Page One to present a menu of the coverage — because it all was huge news. The Daily Collegian Pennsylvania State University State College, Pa.Thursday, November 15, 12
  32. 32. REPORTING Hard-hitting investigative news is the tradition at this college, and it appears on Page One regularly. Here, unethical behavior and controversial administrative decisions are center stage. The Sun Southwestern College Chula Vista, Calif.Thursday, November 15, 12
  33. 33. REPORTING Page One is dedicated to exploring the Kony 2012 media campaign and American attitudes toward Uganda and other African nations. The staff takes the opportunity to contextualize the story for the South Dakota campus. The Volante University of South Dakota Vermillion, S.D.Thursday, November 15, 12
  34. 34. EDITORIAL LEADERSHIP • Opinion pages should be alive with a variety of content: staff editorials, cartoons, letters and personal columns. • Content should be consequential.Thursday, November 15, 12
  35. 35. EDITORIAL LEADERSHIP Opinion pages don’t have to be boring! A strong piece of editorial art plus four columns of equal length on four hot topics combine for a dynamic page. An in-your-face headline helps, too. Indiana Daily Student, 2011 Indiana University Bloomington, Ind.Thursday, November 15, 12
  36. 36. CONCEPT / THEME • Concept unifies coverage and content. • Theme is relevant to current year or issue and provides structure for storytelling.Thursday, November 15, 12
  37. 37. SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER • Does your publication provide a sense of place? • When reading the publication, does the reader learn about the campus, the culture, the students and faculty? • Or, does the coverage feel generic?Thursday, November 15, 12
  38. 38. SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER • Does the work feel contemporary? • The publication ought to look like it was produced this year. • Don’t start over each year, but the type and graphics need to evolve. • Look to trend-setting magazines, advertisements and other current printed materials for inspiration.Thursday, November 15, 12
  39. 39. SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER • Do the stories matter? • Place the stories in context for the reader. • Set the agenda through investigations and enterprise pieces. • Localize regional, national and international stories. Focus on the campus.Thursday, November 15, 12
  40. 40. SOME WAYS TO IMPROVE • Work on the content. Dig around your campus and community for real stories. Don’t overplay or sensationalize. Cover all aspects and all groups. • Pay attention to photography and graphics. These two areas help your publication stand out from others. Think of the best way to tell a story for readers to read and understand.Thursday, November 15, 12
  41. 41. SOME WAYS TO IMPROVE • Details make the difference. Typography, white space, style — these are what set Pacemakers apart. • Have a strong editorial voice. Make the editorial pages a lively forum on substantive topics. • Make every story polished. Write tight. Readers will read long if it’s good. Put columnists on a word count diet.Thursday, November 15, 12
  42. 42. WHAT’S NEXT? The 2012 Pacemaker and individual contest winners will be announced Saturday afternoon. Enter your student media in the 2013 contests. Watch your email and our website for deadlines and entry forms.Thursday, November 15, 12
  43. 43. QUESTIONS? Thanks! E-mail: Online:, November 15, 12