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The NSPA Pacemaker, Fall 2011


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An overview of NSPA’s signature award, The Pacemaker, with examples from the 2010-11 finalists and winners, presented at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in Minneapolis, November 2011

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The NSPA Pacemaker, Fall 2011

  1. 1. THE PACEMAKER Recognizing excellence in student media since 1927. NATIONAL SCHOLASTIC PRESS ASSOCIATION Logan Aimone, Executive Director This presentation is available at and permission is given for educational use.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  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 journalism in the nation.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  3. 3. KEEP IN MIND… The images seen in this presentation are Newspaper Pacemaker Finalists from the 2010-11 academic year plus 2010 yearbooks and magazines. Newspaper 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.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  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 2010-11 NSPA Pacemakers included working professionals, veteran advisers, and a team from the Milkweed Editions.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  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.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  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 website as part of the winners gallery and in our book, Best of the High School Press.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  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)Saturday, November 19, 2011
  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.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  9. 9. CONTENT & COVERAGE The front page presents the reader with a blend of hard and softer news. It is focused primarily on campus news with one story about the community. The High Tide knows, the stories have to be local, local, local. High Tide Redondo Union HS Redondo Beach, Calif.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  10. 10. CONTENT & COVERAGE When a story with national impact also has a local facet, it deserves Page One attention. Again, the emphasis here is local. Update H.H. Dow HS Midland, Mich.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  11. 11. CONTENT & COVERAGE Another page from the same paper demonstrates good feature coverage — relevant, close to home and interesting. This one presents student and faculty opinions on the qualities of a good teacher. Update H.H. Dow HS Midland, Mich.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  12. 12. CONTENT & COVERAGE Three excellent coverage components are presented here: A hard news story about Advanced Placement tests, a local analysis of a national trend and a local connection to an international story. El Estoque Monta Vista HS Cupertino, Calif.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  13. 13. CONTENT & COVERAGE Rather than simply reporting a bunch of national statistics in a generic and unusable way, the HiLite looks in the mirror and poses the question to its audience to advance the story and bring a local perspective. Asking whether your school matches a national trend is a great localizer. HiLite Carmel HS Carmel, Ind.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  14. 14. CONTENT & COVERAGE The important question answered here is “how.” It’s not news that the budget is being cut, or maybe even the amount being cut. Telling readers how the cuts will affect the campus? That’s useful and relevant. Stampede Burges HS El Paso, TexasSaturday, November 19, 2011
  15. 15. CONTENT & COVERAGE Taking aim at a popular game involving drinking alcohol, the CSPress showcases the real dangers behind the common (and likely accepted) activity. Agenda-setting is an important function of the student press. CSPress Cactus Shadows HS Cave Creek, Ariz.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  16. 16. Rampages Casa Roble HS Orangevale, Calif. CONTENT & COVERAGE This is a clever idea executed in a new way. Look at how many people are included!Saturday, November 19, 2011
  17. 17. Etruscan Glenbrook South HS Glenview, Ill. CONTENT & COVERAGE Traditional coverage gets a bonus with siders that demonstrate excellent “layered content.”Saturday, November 19, 2011
  18. 18. WRITING & REPORTING • Writing should be crisp. Reporting must be thorough. • Copy should be clean and edited for consistent style. • Look at NSPA Story of the Year winners for examples of excellence:, November 19, 2011
  19. 19. PRESENTATION: LAYOUT & DESIGN • The publication should have a clean and contemporary look. • Visual hierarchy is established.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  20. 20. PRESENTATION The Spartana’s traditional layout is able to deliver the reader an overview of important news items in a clear and organized way. Note the multiple points of entry and the logos that are common. Small bits of text are approachable. The Spartana Homestead HS Fort Wayne, Ind.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  21. 21. PRESENTATION In contrast, The Marshfield Times presents a contemporary look with an attention-grabbing image, bold headlines and a skinny rail on the right. Note also the discipline to color palette. The Marshfield Times Marshfield HS Coos Bay, Ore.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  22. 22. Harbinger Shawnee Mission East HS Prairie Village, Kan. PRESENTATION This inside spread breaks down a visual story into visual components. Star ratings aid the reader.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  23. 23. Nugget Cupertino HS Cupertino, Calif. PRESENTATION Nothing wrong with a traditional layout with dominant photo, secondary photos and sidebars.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  24. 24. Details Whitney HS Rocklin, Calif. PRESENTATION Tension results from similar-size photos. The theme of “one moment” is reinforced.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  25. 25. PHOTOGRAPHY, ART & GRAPHICS • Visuals enhance the verbal content and draw in the reader. • Quality of photos and art is technically excellent.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  26. 26. PHOTO, ART & GRAPHICS The graphic does more to convey the information to readers than most of the text. The asbestos problem is clear, and readers need to understand why school was canceled. This graphic communicates the message almost instantly. Echo Saint Louis Park HS Saint Louis Park, Minn.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  27. 27. PHOTO, ART & GRAPHICS A strong student illustrator is an asset. This illo is so clear, the text is almost redundant. Any staff with a good illustrator should give that student free rein. Any staff without a good illustrator should go find one. The Eagle Angle Allen HS Allen, TexasSaturday, November 19, 2011
  28. 28. PHOTO, ART & GRAPHICS The illustration here is necessary because using a file photo of students dancing might be cliché (or unavailable). An illustration allows the focus to be on the concept, not the people in the photo. Verde Palo Alto HS Palo Alto, Calif.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  29. 29. PHOTO, ART & GRAPHICS The staff of H cleverly used the app icons to indicate stories within the pages of that issue. Very clever and captures the moment quite well. H Horizon HS Scottsdale, Ariz.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  30. 30. PHOTO, ART & GRAPHICS Another strong illustration conveys the concept of bullying. Note how the editorial text doesn’t intrude on the art or illustrative text. The color palette for the teaser boxes supports the water colors in the art. The Shield McCallum HS Austin, TexasSaturday, November 19, 2011
  31. 31. PHOTO, ART & GRAPHICS An iconic image is given a new twist here. Even the use of “search for a happier meal” in the headline supports the concept. The teaser box and index don’t compete for attention, either. Fourcast The Hockaday School Dallas, TexasSaturday, November 19, 2011
  32. 32. Wings Arrowhead Christian Academy Redlands, Calif. PHOTOGRAPHY, ART & GRAPHICS This fashion spread looks like a contemporary catalog with sharp captions and graphics.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  33. 33. Triune Trinity HS Euless, Texas PHOTOGRAPHY, ART & GRAPHICS Detail elements such as mugs, type and art add energy to this spread.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  34. 34. PHOTOGRAPHY, ART & GRAPHICS Volsung Downey HS Downey, Calif. A side-bound book showcases wide photos. Note the special techniques, and the detail shots.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  35. 35. Muse Northview HS Johns Creek, Ga. PHOTOGRAPHY, ART & GRAPHICS This magazine integrates the art with text and graphics for a cohesive look.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  36. 36. REPORTING: TYPE & DEPTH • Major stories should show evidence of multiple sources. • Series or in-depth pieces should be prominent.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  37. 37. REPORTING A couple routine school news items are sidebars to the main package on athletes drinking alcohol before practice. Only so many items can be on Page One, and they are balanced well here. Blue & Gold Findlay HS Findlay, OhioSaturday, November 19, 2011
  38. 38. REPORTING At Davis HS, students with medical marijuana permits can’t have the drug on campus. The Hub staff puts the dilemma squarely before the readers in a story that earned very high praise from Pacemaker judges. The Hub Davis HS Davis, Calif.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  39. 39. REPORTING The Campanile staff not only explains the budget excess and how it might be dealt with. Rather than one comprehensive story, smaller pieces each play a role in the overall coverage. The Campanile Palo Alto HS Palo Alto, Calif.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  40. 40. REPORTING The most common story in 2010-11 was on cyberbullying, a topic which had the nation’s attention. The better coverage went beyond simply laying out a definition and rehashing national media reports to instead supply a local connection and the impact on that campus’ students. The Trojan Bluestreak Andover HS Andover, Kan.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  41. 41. ReMarker St. Mark’s School of Texas Dallas, Texas PHOTOGRAPHY, ART & GRAPHICS The controversy around ADD medication is explained here.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  42. 42. EDITORIAL LEADERSHIP • Opinion pages should be alive with a variety of content: staff editorials, cartoons, letters and personal columns. • Content should be consequential.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  43. 43. EDITORIAL LEADERSHIP In addition to the strong coverage of the issue of parenting, what stands out here is the teaser for the staff editorial — the thesis is presented on Page One with the full story teased inside. That’s innovative and gives prominence to the staff ’s view. The Standard The American School in London London, EnglandSaturday, November 19, 2011
  44. 44. EDITORIAL LEADERSHIP A pro-con piece is presented well. In this case, the topic is relevant and has two distinct viewpoints. Consider adding a section where each student writer offers rebuttal to the other’s argument. The Southerner Henry W. Grady HS Atlanta, Ga.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  45. 45. 2010 WINNER The Falconer Torrey Pines HS San Diego, Calif. EDITORIAL LEADERSHIP A variety of art (cartoons and illustrations) as well as mugs break up these pages of text.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  46. 46. 2010 WINNER The Stagg Line A.A. Stagg HS Stockton, Calif. EDITORIAL LEADERSHIP A praise editorial is a nice change of pace. Many student voices are evident.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  47. 47. CONCEPT / THEME • Concept unifies coverage and content. • Theme is relevant to current year or issue and provides structure for storytelling.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  48. 48. CONCEPT/THEME Take My Word Fentonian Fentons HS Fenton, Mich.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  49. 49. Fentonian Fenton HS Fenton, Mich. CONCEPT/THEME Dialog balloons are repeated from cover. Word play with “Taking care of business.”Saturday, November 19, 2011
  50. 50. CONCEPT/THEME Really… Log Columbus North HS Columbus, Ind.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  51. 51. Log Columbus North HS Columbus, Ind. CONCEPT/THEME “Really” is used here to reveal unknown aspects about diversity among student body.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  52. 52. DESIGN OF THE YEAR Finalists in Illustration, Infographic, Newspaper Page One and Newspaper Page/Spread categoriesSaturday, November 19, 2011
  53. 53. ILLUSTRATION Jason Cameron, Paris Gravely, Ben Damon Redwood Bark Redwood HS Larkspur, Calif.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  54. 54. ILLUSTRATION Oscar Carl The Muse Dreyfoos School of the Arts West Palm Beach, Calif.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  55. 55. ILLUSTRATION Rebecca Xu HiLite Carmel HS Carmel, Ind.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  56. 56. ILLUSTRATION Kelsey Bell North Star Francis Howell North HS St. Charles, Mo.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  57. 57. ILLUSTRATION Jamie Kaplan, Chris Bull El Paisano Westlake HS Austin, TexasSaturday, November 19, 2011
  58. 58. INFOGRAPHIC Carson Bailey The Lion’s Tale Oviedo HS Oviedo, Fla.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  59. 59. INFOGRAPHIC Mary McDermott Play Maize HS Maize, Kan.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  60. 60. INFOGRAPHIC Toni Aguilar The Harbinger Shawnee Mission East HS Prairie Village, Kan.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  61. 61. INFOGRAPHIC Brandon Morrison The Mission Shawnee Mission North HS Overland Park, Kan.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  62. 62. INFOGRAPHIC Nick Cruz The Source Stoney Creek HS Rochester Hills, Mich.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  63. 63. NEWSPAPER PAGE ONE Hwa Eun Kim The Wildcat Brea Olinda HS Brea, Calif.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  64. 64. NEWSPAPER PAGE ONE Ian Robertson The Standard American School in London London, EnglandSaturday, November 19, 2011
  65. 65. NEWSPAPER PAGE ONE Leah Cramer Blue & Gold Findlay HS Findlay, OhioSaturday, November 19, 2011
  66. 66. NEWSPAPER PAGE ONE Jake Crump The Marshfield Times Marshfield HS Coos Bay, Ore.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  67. 67. NEWSPAPER PAGE ONE Dean Itani ReMarker St. Mark’s School of Texas Dallas, TexasSaturday, November 19, 2011
  68. 68. NEWSMAGAZINE COVER Arjuna Capulong HiLite Carmel HS Carmel, Ind.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  69. 69. NEWSMAGAZINE COVER Elizabeth Lin, Jojo Silverman West Side Story Iowa City West HS Iowa City, IowaSaturday, November 19, 2011
  70. 70. NEWSMAGAZINE COVER Virginia Johnson Crimson Record duPont Manual HS Louisville, Ky.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  71. 71. NEWSMAGAZINE COVER Liz McCubbrey, Kate O’Brien Communicator Community HS Ann Arbor, Mich.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  72. 72. NEWSMAGAZINE COVER Alec Russell The View Park Hill South HS Riverside, Mo.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  73. 73. NEWSPAPER PAGE/SPREAD Lillie Hidges, Sean Burke, Julia Kent The Fourth Estate Laguna Blanca School Santa Barbara, Calif.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  74. 74. NEWSPAPER PAGE/SPREAD Allison Wang Rubicon St. Paul Academy and Summit School St. Paul, Minn.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  75. 75. NEWSPAPER PAGE/SPREAD Jasmine Saein Park Tiger Times Seoul International School Seoul, South KoreaSaturday, November 19, 2011
  76. 76. NEWSPAPER PAGE/SPREAD Caroline Sydney The Fourcast Hockaday School Dallas, TexasSaturday, November 19, 2011
  77. 77. NEWSPAPER PAGE/SPREAD Jenny Messer Featherduster Westlake HS Austin, TexasSaturday, November 19, 2011
  78. 78. YEARBOOK PAGE/SPREAD Kyle Carter, Emma Severson Tesoro Rio Americano HS Sacramento HSSaturday, November 19, 2011
  79. 79. YEARBOOK PAGE/SPREAD Roya Rakhshan Leaves Sherwood HS Sandy Spring, Md.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  80. 80. YEARBOOK PAGE/SPREAD Madeline Franz, Elise Kelly, Olivia Pocost Iliad Whitfield School St. Louis, Mo.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  81. 81. YEARBOOK PAGE/SPREAD Kelsi Gunderson, Lamia Elliott, Katie Freeman Legacy Green Valley HS Henderson, Nev.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  82. 82. YEARBOOK PAGE/SPREAD Hayden Wolf Marksmen St. Mark’s School of Texas Dallas, TexasSaturday, November 19, 2011
  83. 83. 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.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  84. 84. 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.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  85. 85. SOME WAYS TO IMPROVE • Make every story polished. Write tight. Readers will read long if it’s good. Put columnists on a word count diet. • Take your own photos or use common works. Find images to use under a Creative Commons license or similar permission to use. Attribute correctly. WikiCommons and Flickr both have free images.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  86. 86. SOME WAYS TO IMPROVE • Consider the alternatives. Look to alternate story forms in addition to the traditional story or copy block. Not only will your content attract more readers, the stories that need traditional treatment will stand out, too. • Don’t just copy the leaders. They aren’t copying you. They’re finding a new and innovative ways to present information. They’re setting the pace.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  87. 87. WHAT’S NEXT? The 2011 Pacemaker winners will be announced Saturday afternoon. Enter your student media in the 2012 contests. Watch your email and our website for deadlines and entry forms.Saturday, November 19, 2011
  88. 88. QUESTIONS? Thanks! E-mail: Online:, November 19, 2011