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The NSPA Pacemaker, Fall 2009


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An overview of NSPA’s signature award, The Pacemaker, with examples from the 2009 finalists and winners, presented at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in Washington, D.C., November 2009.

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The NSPA Pacemaker, Fall 2009

  1. 1. The Pacemaker Recognizing excellence in student media since 1927
  2. 2. Introduction The Pacemaker is the highest honor in scholastic 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 work in the nation.
  3. 3. Keep in mind… The images seen in this presentation are Pacemaker Finalists from the 2008-09 academic year. Winners will be announced 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.
  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 2009 NSPA Newspaper Pacemakers included working or retired professionals from Seattle- area newspapers.
  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 scholastic journalism.
  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. • NSPA asks judges to provide general feedback on the finalists. Some teams are more thorough. Comments will be shared on our Web site as part of the winners gallery.
  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)
  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 community. Wire or reprinted copy is discouraged.
  9. 9. Details Whitney High School Rocklin, Calif. Content and Coverage A solid variety of student events makes this an interesting opening spread.
  10. 10. Surfer Coronado Middle School Coronado, Calif. Content and Coverage A variety of student mugs mixed throughout the pages adds interest and makes readers view more pages.
  11. 11. Lion McKinney High School McKinney, Texas Content and Coverage The spread contains thorough coverage of topics from a variety of angles.
  12. 12. Content and Coverage The national story about the economy and financial crisis is localized with a specific story about the school and its community of students and families. The Roundup Brophy College Preparatory Academy Tucson, Ariz.
  13. 13. Content and Coverage A centerpiece package on the experiences of an alumnus when the school was first integrated anchors the page. Hard news items on curriculum and state funding round out the offerings. Silver Chips Montgomery Blair High School Silver Spring, Md.
  14. 14. Content and Coverage Relevant and timely stories on Page One include election night results, school budget cuts and “dirty” dancing behaviors. Teasers complete the package. tjToday Thomas Jefferson HS for Science & Technology Alexandria, Va.
  15. 15. Content and Coverage An timely topic affecting all students — the dress code — is placed on the cover prominently and handled inside with depth coverage. The Blazer Timberline High School Lacey, Wash.
  16. 16. Quality of writing & reporting • Writing should be crisp. Reporting must be thorough. • Copy should be clean and edited for consistent style.
  17. 17. Presentation: Layout and design • The publication should have a clean and contemporary look. • Visual hierarchy is established.
  18. 18. The Deer Deer Park High School Deer Park, Texas Presentation: Layout and Design This traditional layout is a textbook example of how to follow the rules and tweak them ever-so-slightly.
  19. 19. Right: In the sudden snowfall on Dec. 6, sophomore Ian Left: Sisters Camille and Boat prepares to throw a snowball at sophomore Beck John- Anna Karro scrape snow son. “We were just acting like we were in fifth grade again,” off their windshield in Boat said. “One snowball was thrown and then we were just the senior lot during an in a huge snowball fight.” Below: Laughing, sophomore afternoon snow on Dec. Molly Tidrick is hit by a snowball thrown by Boat. “I walked 6. “I was really excited to up to the Y and people were throwing snowballs, and my look out the window and friends started doing it around our cars,” Tidrick said. “There see the snow,” Camille so much snow piled on everything – it was crazy. That was said. “But it’s the first when I started getting excited about winter.” Photos by Karen year [Anna and I] have Boomer. our own car, so it wasn’t as exciting to scrape it.” Photo by Nicole Luby. Design by Brooke Stanley. It was the first big snow of the season and I got my car in the spring so I hadn’t really driven in winter conditions. And my car has rear-wheel drive. So I was leaving the senior lot through the sophomore lot and there was a big line going really slow becuase of the snow, and I got stuck on a patch of ice. I kept pressing the accelerator but it wouldn’t go and my wheels were turning, so I got out to signal for someone to help me but no one would. I was really panicked and anxious. This turned to embarassment when I was sitting there for like eight minutes and the line was getting longer and people started going around me. Finally a dad got out and got some skater kids to come and help too, and they pushed my car up. When I got home I realized I ddin’t have a lot of air in my tires. Once I put air in, things got a lot better. I was turning to go down a hill in Mission Hills and my car slid and just kept going. The steering wheel locked up and the car went into a person’s yard. I got stuck there between two trees. George Brett drove by and stopped, and I thought he was go- ing to say something, but he drove away. My neighbors came and put kitty litter under the tires and pushed it out. The front was scratched up because I ran over bushes and I popped a Headed to a boys swim meet, swim team managers Mary tire. I was kind of in shock – I’ve never hit anything before. I Tanner and Dana Sherard walk to Tanner’s car. “I don’t like was grateful that something worse didn’t happen. snow, but I was kind of glad to see it because it was the first snow of the season and I was hoping we would have a snow day,” Sherard said. “It’s pretty when it first snows, but I hate snow. It’s wet.” Photo by Karen Boomer. I have a golf course behind my house so I invited friends over Right: In the parking lot to go out on the golf course in the snow. We walked around after school, sophomore Allison Kirby points out and had some snowball fights and it turned into a tackling sophomore Andrew Dex- competition. Despite the fact that I had a broken hand, I still ter’s hands. “They were all purple from throwing got tackled, and I assume it was at this point that I lost my snowballs,” Kirby said. “We phone. The next morning I realized I had lost it. My mom and were out there for at least 25 minutes having a snow- I searched the golf course four or five times following the ball fight.” Photo by Karen tracks we had left, but didn’t find it. My mom called the golf Boomer. Far right: Leaning out her car window, sopho- course to ask if they had found it, and we technically weren’t more Lois Wetzel watches allowed to be on the golf course so my mom had to confess a snowball fight in the se- nior lot as her sister Laura that we were out there illegally. A week later they found my drives. “People were hiding phone and I got it back somewhat working. behind cars and throwing snowballs at people’s car windows,” Wetzel said. “It was pretty funny.” Photo by Tayler Philips. Hauberk Shawnee Mission East High School 76 77 Prairie Village, Kan. Presentation: Layout and Design This is a great example of separating elements using images and planned white space.
  20. 20. Fentonian Fenton High School Fenton, Mich. Presentation: Layout and Design Fantastic use of typography and entry points. Note the score box becomes more than a listing — it’s visually interesting.
  21. 21. El Camino Real San Gabriel High School San Gabriel, Calif. Presentation: Layout and Design Lots of students are covered in a variety of entry points.
  22. 22. Presentation: Layout and Design This page demonstrates strong use of modular layout with an attention to reader entry points through sidebars and the left rail as teasers. The Nexus Westview High School San Diego, Calif.
  23. 23. Presentation: Layout and Design A strong, visual centerpiece package dominates the page. Newsier items complete the secondary placements. Good use of sidebar elements to complement the main coverage. Use of color is constrained. The Prowl Coral Glades High School Coral Springs, Fla.
  24. 24. Presentation: Layout and Design Wow. Clean and simple design that is executed perfectly makes this a supremely attractive page. It also succeeds in not being boring. Spartana Homestead High School Fort Wayne, Ind.
  25. 25. Presentation: Layout and Design Multiple entry points invite the reader. Clever illustrative solution avoids a posed photo. Mug shots break up text. The Connection John B. Connally High School Austin, Texas
  26. 26. Presentation: Layout and Design Classic example of modular layout with a centerpiece package (softer news) bracketed by harder news stories. El Estoque Monta Vista High School Cupertino, Calif.
  27. 27. Presentation: Layout and Design A model example of modular layout — descending headlines and centerpiece design with strong organization and reader- service elements. High Tide Redondo Union High School Redondo Beach, Calif.
  28. 28. Photography, art and graphics • Visuals enhance the verbal content and draw in the reader. • Quality of photos and art is technically excellent.
  29. 29. The Deer Deer Park High School Deer Park, Texas Photography, Art and Graphics Page of quotes is different and attractive.
  30. 30. burn baby burn | During the week of Homecoming, Pep Club organized a school-wide bonfire as a way to hype up the student body. As the fire burned, hot dogs were served, the band played and the cheerleaders danced. “I felt proud to go to North,” junior Daniela Iliescu said. “You could feel the spirit all around.”photo by erik johnston | associate principal john bartel The end of our beginning rounded the corner as we We watched junior Jacob Bledsoe sink two half court entered 2008. Seniors became the first class in nine years shots in a row during the halftime show at the boys’ bas- to have open lunch. Juniors prepared for prom, that would ketball game against Mill Valley. We listened countless take place on April 19 at the Ritz Charles. Sophomores mornings as the announcements listed off NJROTC wins. many continued trends with the selling of zip-up hoodies, and We counted down the months, weeks and finally days left freshmen supported their boys’ basketball team as it fin- until the last day of school, and still, we remembered the | n.j.r.o.t.c. ished the season with a winning record. many events, people and places that wrote our story. Indian | muckfest 40 state championships 157 little theater seats 99 exit signs 28 t-days 1,000 activity tickets 762 PC’s 1,165 yearbooks sold Shawnee Mission North HS 348 | many “We, the juniors, are very excited about the improvements of our school for our up-coming senior year.” Eli Eastlund, junior closing | 349 Overland Park, Kan. Photography, Art and Graphics Dramatic photos have a big impact. Play them large.
  31. 31. Shield Thomas Downey High School Modesto, Calif. Photography, Art and Graphics A series of images can be an effective storytelling device.
  32. 32. Photography, Art and Graphics A creative photoillustration emphasizes one aspect and instantly conveys the story topic to readers. Strong typography helps clarify the message. Spark Lakota East High School Liberty Township, Ohio
  33. 33. Photography, Art and Graphics It’s OK to push the envelope. This story is about local kidnappings involving current and former students. The Squall Dexter High School Dexter, Mich.
  34. 34. Photography, art and graphics Wonderful and dynamic artwork can really lure in the reader. The Harbinger Shawnee Mission East High School Prairie Village, Kan.
  35. 35. Reporting: Type and depth • Major stories should show evidence of multiple sources. • Series or in-depth pieces should be prominent.
  36. 36. Reporting: Type and Depth Placing a story about Atheism on Page One take guts. It better be well done and thought-provoking, not sensational or biased. This one resulted in a campus dialog and response from school officials in subsequent editions. ReMarker St. Mark’s School of Texas Dallas, Texas
  37. 37. Reporting: Type and Depth Students reported on the school district’s hiring practices regarding criminal background checks. The article resulted in changed policies. This story is a finalist in NSPA’s News Story of the Year contest. Its main author is the 2009 National High School Journalist of the Year. The Spoke Conestoga High School Berwyn, Pa.
  38. 38. Reporting: Type and Depth Helping the audience discover a previously unknown problem — in this case the chaotic world of foster care — is a fundamental role of the press. The Surveyor George Washington High School Denver, Colo.
  39. 39. Reporting: Type and Depth The front page of this newspaper is dedicated to a timely topic that is presented without sensationalism and from multiple angles. The Bulletin El Toro High School Lake Forest, Calif.
  40. 40. Editorial leadership • Opinion pages should be alive with a variety of content: staff editorials, cartoons, letters and personal columns. • Content should be consequential.
  41. 41. Editorial Leadership Opinion pages can be vivid and lively, too. Display headlines, a crisp cartoon and illustrative art accompany the columns and staff editorial. The content can and should be treated visually like other pages. (2008 example) The Peninsula Outlook Peninsula High School Gig Harbor, Wash.
  42. 42. Editorial Leadership A nice blend of staff and student voices is this page’s hallmark. Staff editorial is on a timely topic (asbestos), and speak-outs, letters and columns complete the page. The First Amendment on the ear is a nice touch. (2008 example) Munsonian Muncie Central High School Muncie, Ind.
  43. 43. Overall concept or theme • Concept unifies coverage and content. • Theme is relevant to current year or issue and provides structure for storytelling.
  44. 44. 2009 Highlights • Several trends for the 2009 Pacemakers can be identified. • They experiment with quick-read and alternate story forms to convey a message. • They tackle sophisticated and timely topics. • Breaking news is included regularly, including news about the community.
  45. 45. Hard News A major story in the region was an outbreak of HIV at a nearby school, resulting in testing and community concern. The Kirkwood Call Kirkwood High School Kirkwood, Mo.
  46. 46. Tough Topic Sexting was the “hot topic” of 2008-09, and many papers covered the issue as a national trend with specific problems in their communities. The Lance Omaha Westside High School Omaha, Neb.
  47. 47. Tough Topic In-depth coverage regarding the death of a student. The Network Marian High School Omaha, Neb.
  48. 48. Hard News One hard news story would be enough for most issues in most papers, but this page has three: community rejection of the budget proposal, students caught drinking on a field trip, and the swine flu scare. The Highland Fling Northern Highlands Regional High School N.J.
  49. 49. 2009 Design of the Year • Finalists in Illustration, Infographic and Page One categories
  50. 50. Illustration Finalist: Lauren Cox Redwood Bark Redwood High School Larkspur, Calif.
  51. 51. Illustration Finalist: Noah Sneider The Viking Palo Alto High School Palo Alto, Calif.
  52. 52. Illustration Finalist: Jolene Xie The Nexus Westview High School San Diego, Calif.
  53. 53. Illustration Finalist: Mattie Nobles The Rock Rock Canyon High School Highlands Ranch, Colo.
  54. 54. Illustration Finalist: Dillon Kogle Chieftain Montrose High School Montrose, Colo.
  55. 55. Illustration Finalist: Lindsay Shores, Laura Seach, Alia Huffman, John Husak Marquee Dreyfoos School of the Arts West Palm Beach, Fla.
  56. 56. Infographic Finalist: Alice Lee El Estoque Monta Vista High School Cupertino, Calif.
  57. 57. Infographic Finalist: Erin Schrode The Voice Marin Academy San Rafael, Calif.
  58. 58. Infographic Finalist: Tara Gracer, Jeff Lerman, Victor Rudo Deerprints Deerfield High School Deerfield, Ill.
  59. 59. Infographic Finalist: Christopher Hsing Silver Chips Montgomery Blair High School Silver Spring, Md.
  60. 60. Infographic Finalist: Kevin Li, Rohan Kusre Spark Lakota East High School Liberty Township, Ohio
  61. 61. Newspaper Page One Finalist: Jamie Hausman Statesman Stevenson High School Lincolnshire, Ill.
  62. 62. Newspaper Page One Finalist: Kirsten Robinson The Express Blue Valley Northwest High School Overland Park, Kan.
  63. 63. Newspaper Page One Finalist: Cami Wade North Star Francis Howell North High School St. Charles, Mo.
  64. 64. Newspaper Page One Finalist: Rohan Kusre Spark Lakota East High School Liberty Township, Ohio
  65. 65. Newspaper Page One Finalist: Mike Barnes, Katie Arquiette The Growl Massaponax High School Fredericksburg, Va.
  66. 66. 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. • Go in-depth when the story merits. Don’t give a story a double-truck unless the story is worth that much space. Be proportional.
  67. 67. Some ways to improve • Details make the difference. Typography, white space, color palette, style — these are what set Pacemakers apart. Be disciplined. • 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.
  68. 68. What’s next? • The 2009 Pacemaker and individual contest winners will be announced Saturday afternoon. • Enter your student media in the 2010 contests. Watch your e-mail and our Web site for deadlines and entry forms.
  69. 69. Questions?