The Pacemaker NSPA 11a


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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 Anaheim, Calif., April 2011

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The Pacemaker NSPA 11a

  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.Friday, April 15, 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.Friday, April 15, 2011
  3. 3. KEEP IN MIND… The images seen in this presentation are Newspaper Pacemaker Finalists from the 2009-10 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.Friday, April 15, 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 2009-10 NSPA Pacemakers included working professionals, veteran college media advisers, and a team from the Milkweed Editions.Friday, April 15, 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.Friday, April 15, 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.Friday, April 15, 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)Friday, April 15, 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.Friday, April 15, 2011
  9. 9. CONTENT & COVERAGE The centerpiece story here is the account of a student who was kidnapped. It also contains secondary news pieces on the school’s academic rank and campus construction, as well as a feature on a teacher who has three military children. The Chronicle Tom C. Clark HS San Antonio, TexasFriday, April 15, 2011
  10. 10. CONTENT & COVERAGE This front page is full of relevant news for the school community: budget cuts, student club painting a mural, and information about flu vaccines. The Stagg Line A.A. Stagg HS Stockton, Calif.Friday, April 15, 2011
  11. 11. CONTENT & COVERAGE Hard news forms most of the page, but a softer news story about a homeless man and his struggles takes center stage. There’s something for every reader here. Silver Chips Montgomery Blair HS Silver Spring, Md.Friday, April 15, 2011
  12. 12. CONTENT & COVERAGE Hard news about crime statistics, the school superintendent’s pending retirement and proposed changes to state driving laws make this a strong front page. Add reader entry points with a mug shot of the people involved. Wingspan West Henderson HS Hendersonville, N.C.Friday, April 15, 2011
  13. 13. CONTENT & COVERAGE International news is placed prominently with a teaser to an inside piece localizing the reaction to an earthquake in Haiti. A diverse mix of news completes the page (including a visit from the Secretary of Education!). The Southerner Henry W. Grady HS Atlanta, Ga.Friday, April 15, 2011
  14. 14. 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!Friday, April 15, 2011
  15. 15. Etruscan Glenbrook South HS Glenview, Ill. CONTENT & COVERAGE Traditional coverage gets a bonus with siders that demonstrate excellent “layered content.”Friday, April 15, 2011
  16. 16. 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:, April 15, 2011
  17. 17. PRESENTATION: LAYOUT & DESIGN • The publication should have a clean and contemporary look. • Visual hierarchy is established.Friday, April 15, 2011
  18. 18. PRESENTATION Strong graphics and lots of well-used color give this design a contemporary feel. A mug-and-quote element at the bottom right attracts attention. The Prowl Coral Glades HS Coral Springs, Fla.Friday, April 15, 2011
  19. 19. PRESENTATION A visual representation on Page One gives this a newsmag feel. There’s no doubt what the most important story is for this issue. Secondary items are teased inside. The Echo St. Louis Park HS St. Louis Park, Minn.Friday, April 15, 2011
  20. 20. PRESENTATION Classic modular layout makes this a strong page. Even rectangles can be interesting by using a knockout image and color. Make sure headlines are strong enough to compete with the dominant images. Briefs are placed well. Nighthawk News First Flight HS Kill Devil Hills, N.C.Friday, April 15, 2011
  21. 21. PRESENTATION A feature centerpiece such as this one on the Texas textbook controversy give prominent treatment to a current topic. The graphics also make a potentially boring topic come alive. Clever use of typography. The ReMarker St. Mark’s School of Texas Dallas, TexasFriday, April 15, 2011
  22. 22. Nugget Cupertino HS Cupertino, Calif. PRESENTATION Nothing wrong with a traditional layout with dominant photo, secondary photos and sidebars.Friday, April 15, 2011
  23. 23. Details Whitney HS Rocklin, Calif. PRESENTATION Tension results from similar-size photos. The theme of “one moment” is reinforced.Friday, April 15, 2011
  24. 24. PHOTOGRAPHY, ART & GRAPHICS • Visuals enhance the verbal content and draw in the reader. • Quality of photos and art is technically excellent.Friday, April 15, 2011
  25. 25. PHOTO, ART & GRAPHICS Nice images are evident here, but none nicer than the centerpiece illustration about students dropping class. The effect of being erased is dramatic and communicates the message well. Tiger Times Texas HS Texarkana, TexasFriday, April 15, 2011
  26. 26. PHOTO, ART & GRAPHICS A visual representation of the tuition increases helps attract readers’ eyes and tell the story. Be careful of reverse text, as it can be hard to read at small sizes. A restrained color palette is well used here. The Prep News Rockhurst HS Kansas City, Mo.Friday, April 15, 2011
  27. 27. PHOTO, ART & GRAPHICS Handwritten text is not only on trend but its use here also evokes note-taking and creativity. The Tiger Print Blue Valley HS Stilwell, Kan.Friday, April 15, 2011
  28. 28. Arrow Renton HS Renton, Wash. PHOTOGRAPHY, ART & GRAPHICS A solid documentary photo on the cover has impact.Friday, April 15, 2011
  29. 29. Wings Arrowhead Christian Academy Redlands, Calif. PHOTOGRAPHY, ART & GRAPHICS This fashion spread looks like a contemporary catalog with sharp captions and graphics.Friday, April 15, 2011
  30. 30. Triune Trinity HS Euless, Texas PHOTOGRAPHY, ART & GRAPHICS Detail elements such as mugs, type and art add energy to this spread.Friday, April 15, 2011
  31. 31. PHOTOGRAPHY, ART & GRAPHICS Volsung Downey HS Downey, Calif. A side-bound book showcases wide photos. Note the special techniques, and the detail shots.Friday, April 15, 2011
  32. 32. Muse Northview HS Johns Creek, Ga. PHOTOGRAPHY, ART & GRAPHICS This magazine integrates the art with text and graphics for a cohesive look.Friday, April 15, 2011
  33. 33. REPORTING: TYPE & DEPTH • Major stories should show evidence of multiple sources. • Series or in-depth pieces should be prominent.Friday, April 15, 2011
  34. 34. REPORTING Special coverage of the “changing face” of the school highlights how the composition of the student body has changed over the year. A graphic icon indicates stories on that topic. Lion’s Roar Goddard HS Goddard, Kan.Friday, April 15, 2011
  35. 35. REPORTING A Page One story details the allegations of a school counselor charged with sexual assault of minors he worked with at a church. The role of the newspaper is to inform the school community and to sift through rumors to present the facts. Rocky Mountain Highlighter Rocky Mountain HS Fort Collins, Colo.Friday, April 15, 2011
  36. 36. REPORTING The timely topic of a community curfew is addressed with depth coverage. The issue is likely of high interest to the core readership of the newspaper. Stampede W.H. Burges HS El Paso, TexasFriday, April 15, 2011
  37. 37. REPORTING The consequences of alcohol use by underage people are addressed in this centerpiece story. The Lance Omaha Westside HS Omaha, Neb.Friday, April 15, 2011
  38. 38. REPORTING A local judge wpoke to the student body, informing them that when it came to illegal use of prescription drugs, the school “was king.” The newspaper appropriately investigated and reported. The Falconer Torrey Pines HS San Diego, Calif.Friday, April 15, 2011
  39. 39. EDITORIAL LEADERSHIP • Opinion pages should be alive with a variety of content: staff editorials, cartoons, letters and personal columns. • Content should be consequential.Friday, April 15, 2011
  40. 40. 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.Friday, April 15, 2011
  41. 41. 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.Friday, April 15, 2011
  42. 42. CONCEPT / THEME • Concept unifies coverage and content. • Theme is relevant to current year or issue and provides structure for storytelling.Friday, April 15, 2011
  43. 43. CONCEPT/THEME Take My Word Fentonian Fentons HS Fenton, Mich.Friday, April 15, 2011
  44. 44. Fentonian Fenton HS Fenton, Mich. CONCEPT/THEME Dialog balloons are repeated from cover. Word play with “Taking care of business.”Friday, April 15, 2011
  45. 45. CONCEPT/THEME Really… Log Columbus North HS Columbus, Ind.Friday, April 15, 2011
  46. 46. Log Columbus North HS Columbus, Ind. CONCEPT/THEME “Really” is used here to reveal unknown aspects about diversity among student body.Friday, April 15, 2011
  47. 47. DESIGN OF THE YEAR Finalists in Illustration, Infographic, Newspaper Page One and Newspaper Page/Spread categoriesFriday, April 15, 2011
  48. 48. ILLUSTRATION Andrew Atallah and Josh Zillwood The Roundup Brophy College Preparatory School Phoenix, Ariz.Friday, April 15, 2011
  49. 49. ILLUSTRATION Edward Yeung Ilium Troy HS Fullerton, Calif.Friday, April 15, 2011
  50. 50. ILLUSTRATION Qinyi Fan and Christian Jun Mount Carmel Sun Mount Carmel HS San Diego, Calif.Friday, April 15, 2011
  51. 51. ILLUSTRATION Victoria Cornejo Chieftain Montrose HS Montrose, Colo.Friday, April 15, 2011
  52. 52. ILLUSTRATION Tanner Maxwell Lion’s Roar Goddard HS Goddard, Kan.Friday, April 15, 2011
  53. 53. ILLUSTRATION Rosie Steinbach The Viking Log Forest Grove HS Forest Grove, Ore.Friday, April 15, 2011
  54. 54. INFOGRAPHIC Paris Graveley and Rebecca Wynd Redwood Bark Redwood HS Larkspur, Calif.Friday, April 15, 2011
  55. 55. INFOGRAPHIC Samantha Rosier The Prowl Coral Glades HS Coral Springs, Fla.Friday, April 15, 2011
  56. 56. INFOGRAPHIC Patrick Svitek The Spartana Homestead HS Fort Wayne, Ind.Friday, April 15, 2011
  57. 57. INFOGRAPHIC Phoebe Unterman The Harbinger Shawnee Mission East HS Prairie Village, Kan.Friday, April 15, 2011
  58. 58. INFOGRAPHIC Julia Gabbert North Star Francis Howell North HS St. Charles, Mo.Friday, April 15, 2011
  59. 59. INFOGRAPHIC Radhika Madhavan Spark Lakota East HS Liberty Township, OhioFriday, April 15, 2011
  60. 60. NEWSPAPER PAGE ONE Sarah Strand The Voice Marin Academy San Rafael, Calif.Friday, April 15, 2011
  61. 61. NEWSPAPER PAGE ONE Courtney Seddon Panther’s Tale Derby HS Derby, Kan.Friday, April 15, 2011
  62. 62. NEWSPAPER PAGE ONE Michael Stolle The Harbinger Shawnee Mission East HS Prairie Village, Kan.Friday, April 15, 2011
  63. 63. NEWSPAPER PAGE ONE Taylor Parker and Emma Claucherty The Viking Longboat Haslett HS Haslett, Mich.Friday, April 15, 2011
  64. 64. NEWSPAPER PAGE ONE Taylor Brown Dart St. Teresa’s Academy Kansas City, Mo.Friday, April 15, 2011
  65. 65. NEWSPAPER PAGE/SPREAD Grayson Cameron Redwood Bark Redwood HS Larkspur, Calif.Friday, April 15, 2011
  66. 66. NEWSPAPER PAGE/SPREAD Tyler Hein The Scout Overland HS Aurora, Colo.Friday, April 15, 2011
  67. 67. NEWSPAPER PAGE/SPREAD Jane Culkin, Amelia Kucic, Marjie Ruby and Grace Michaels The Surveyor George Washington HS Denver, Colo.Friday, April 15, 2011
  68. 68. NEWSPAPER PAGE/SPREAD Benjy Mercer-Golden The Standard American School in London London, EnglandFriday, April 15, 2011
  69. 69. NEWSPAPER PAGE/SPREAD Cara Eckert, Hollan Linn and Caleb Quinn The Wolf ’s Howl Timberland HS Wentzville, Mo.Friday, April 15, 2011
  70. 70. NEWSPAPER PAGE/SPREAD Sarah Hudson The Crimson Courier Cypress Woods HS Cypress, TexasFriday, April 15, 2011
  71. 71. YEARBOOK PAGE/SPREAD Kayla Davidson Hornet Bryant HS Bryant, Ark.Friday, April 15, 2011
  72. 72. YEARBOOK PAGE/SPREAD Erin Tacho Legend Boone HS Orlando, Fla.Friday, April 15, 2011
  73. 73. YEARBOOK PAGE/SPREAD Sarah Brand and Chantelle Cloutier Minotaur Bloomington Senior HS Valrico, Fla.Friday, April 15, 2011
  74. 74. YEARBOOK PAGE/SPREAD Sravani Mannuru and Sara Walls Governor John B. Connally HS Austin, TexasFriday, April 15, 2011
  75. 75. YEARBOOK PAGE/SPREAD Anna Glendening, Natalie Mabile, Marissa Gitler, Hannah Kirby The Clan McLean HS McLean, Va.Friday, April 15, 2011
  76. 76. YEARBOOK PAGE/SPREAD Chelsea Weis Aurora Wausau West HS Wausau, Wis.Friday, April 15, 2011
  77. 77. 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.Friday, April 15, 2011
  78. 78. 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.Friday, April 15, 2011
  79. 79. 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.Friday, April 15, 2011
  80. 80. WHAT’S NEXT? The 2010 Pacemaker winners will be announced Saturday afternoon. Enter your student media in the 2011 contests. Watch your email and our website for deadlines and entry forms.Friday, April 15, 2011
  81. 81. QUESTIONS? Thanks! E-mail: Online:, April 15, 2011