Some State News traditions have a moment, and then fade as people graduate and time soldiers on. Others endure. Like winning Pacemakers.
TSN was awarded its 17th Pacemaker all-time by the Associated Collegiate Press during a virtual awards ceremony Oct. 22, continuing a standard of excellence set by generations of S'Newsers and built upon by today's college journalists.
The print Pacemaker win (its first since 2009 and the first for any kind of Pacemaker since online honors in 2018) came while covering one of the most momentous and disruptive events in our lifetimes: the coronavirus pandemic. The staff was also honored with 11 individual awards by the ACP. The Pacemaker is given annually to the nation's best student-run college news organizations.
"One of the more frustrating things you learn as you grow up is that it's rare that any of us get the recognition we all richly deserve for what we do in living our lives. So when that spotlight finally finds us, it's not just well-earned; it's truly a special thing to appreciate. Like, being a national champion," newsroom adviser and alumni engagement director Omar Sofradzija wrote in a memo to the newsroom the day after the announcement. "And this morning, that's what you are."
Sofradzija also wrote that in claiming a Pacemaker today's S'Newsers were "building upon a tradition of talent, teamwork and truth that's carried this institution through 111 years, two world wars, and its second pandemic. Please savor the moment as being noticed among the best of the best. And appreciate what those before us have done to set our stage. Many of them did the same kind of great work with the intense effort and magical talent that you do, and very few of them got a moment like this that they, too, earned. This is for them as much as it is for us."
The 2019-20 staff, led by Editor-in-Chief Madison O'Connor, had to quickly pivot to all-digital work within a matter of days in March after the coronavirus pandemic mandated the end of in-person learning at MSU and the evacuation of the physical newsroom for the balance of the spring semester.
While continuing the everyday digital news operation that was already standard, O'Connor's team continued producing a digital version of the weekly print edition, with distribution going to all MSU email accounts (a practice that contiued to this day, even after the resumption of physical print issues this fall). ACP judges did consider digital-only print PDFs in this year's contest.
The 2020 print Pacemaker follows Pacemaker honors in 1963, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1986, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2009 for print and 2014 and 2018 for online, according to ACP archives. The State News was also a print Pacemaker finalist in 1987, 2010, 2011, 2017 and 2018 and an online Pacemaker finalist in 2005, 2009 and 2017.
This year's ACP winners from TSN were:
- NEWSPAPER PACEMAKER: The State News
SECOND PLACE FINISHERS
HUMAN INTEREST STORY: CJ Moore and Annie Barker, It fills my soul
THIRD PLACE FINISHERS
EDITORIAL: State News staff, It's On Us, But It's Also On MSU
FIFTH PLACE FINISHERS
PRINT COVID-19 NEWS OR FEATURE STORY: State News staff, COVID-19 hits Michigan
ONLINE ADVERTISEMENT: Genna Barner, Thank you
LOCAL CLIMATE CHANGE REPORTING: Wendy Guzman, Big Ten students call for fossil fuel disinvestment
ONLINE COVID-19 NEWS OR FEATURE STORY: Annie Barker, Sylvia Jarrus, Di'Amond Moore, Matt Zubik and Matt Schmucker, Scenes from EL before, after pandemic
SPORTS GAME STORY: Chase Michaelson, The final play that helped MSU men's basketball escape Illinois
SPORTS FEATURE PHOTO: Matt Zubik, Are You Not Entertained?
SOCIAL MEDIA PROMOTION: State News staff, Baby Yoda
NEWSPAPER SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION: Courtney McKown, Housing Guide
ADVERTISING MEDIA KIT & RATE CARD: Ethan Richert, Dylan VanVliet, Shelby Zeigler, 2020 rate card
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