For the second consecutive year, The Eye has been recognized by the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA). Last year the online newpaper made it onto the list of finalists, but this year The Eye won the highest honor given by the NSPA: the Online Pacemaker award.
The NSPA presents this award annually for “excellence in American student journalism.” This year, The Eye is the only international newspaper included in the 10 Pacemaker awards given for a school with fewer than 1500 students.
The Pacemaker is said to be the most “prestigious” award given to student publications and is referred to as the “Pulitzer Prize” of student journalism. Criteria used when evaluating these newspapers is broad and the judges look at a number of factors. Teams of professionals base their decisions on coverage and content, quality of writing, design, photography, and graphics.
Co-editor Jenna Nichols was excited to hear about The Eye making it as a finalist. “It’s the last year for a lot of us – all the editors are seniors, as are the majority of staffers. Dr. Worley is also leaving. Winning the Pacemaker was a really good way to end the year for all of us.”
The judges are journalists themselves or professionals with media-related experience and backgrounds. They make their decisions during the months of February and March.
Social media accounts were also factored into the overall evaluation. Publications showed strategic use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in attracting readers and getting content seen. The final, and perhaps the most important factor for online newspapers, was compelling content – what the judges described as a “tricky feat to accomplish.”
“There’s a lot of time, work and energy that goes into making and maintaining The Eye,” said senior staffer Janna Agustin. “It’s a great feeling to see some recognition for that. It’s definitely an honor to have won something like the Pacemaker Award.”
The NSPA advances and advocates for student journalism across middle schools, high schools and universities. The website has dozens of resources for young journalists, as well as scholarship opportunities and educational information.
Junior Ana Chavez was new to The Eye this year, and agrees that gaining recognition for the work put into The Eye is important.
“It’s just really cool knowing that we were the only international school that got in the top 10. It’s really meaningful and shows us that our hard work paid off.”
The Eye placed in the “Online” category, but there are also Pacemakers for magazines, yearbooks, broadcast and newspaper. All Pacemaker winners were announced at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention, April 14-17, 2016 in Los Angeles.