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The National Pacemaker Awards are awards for excellence in Americanmarker student journalism, given annually since 1927. The awards are generally considered to be the highest national honors in their field, and are unofficially known as the "Pulitzer Prizes of student journalism."

The National Scholastic Press Association administers the contest for high school programs, while the Associated Collegiate Press administers the college and university contests. Pacemakers are awarded annually at the JEA/NSPA National Conference (for high schools) and the ACP/CMA National College Media Convention (for colleges) in the following categories: Newspaper, Online, Yearbook/Magazine, and Broadcast.

Newspaper Pacemakers

ACP, NSPA and the Newspaper Association of America Foundation have co-sponsored the Pacemaker competition since 1961. NSPA began the awards in 1927. The Pacemaker competition was discontinued in 1948-49, then resumed in 1961. The awards, which are considered by many to be the highest national honors for student journalism, are unique in their judging. Several issues from each newspaper's production schedule are randomly selected to be judged, which ensures that to be competitive for a Pacemaker, a publication must show consistent quality over an entire academic year.

Judges select Pacemaker Finalists and Pacemakers based on the following: coverage and content, quality of writing and reporting, leadership on the opinion page, evidence of in-depth reporting, design, photography, art and graphics.

Pacemakers are selected by the staff of a professional newspaper in the host city of the annual National College Media Convention, in the case of college papers, or the National High School Journalism Convention for high school publications.There are multiple awards in each category every year: in 2006, there were 26 high school winners.

Online Pacemakers

This contest replaces the NSPA/ACP Best of the Net competition, which began in 1996. Member publication Web sites are not automatically entered in the Pacemaker competition - staffs must submit a Pacemaker entry form.

Online Pacemaker entries are judged during the months of February and March, based upon the following criteria: design, navigation, writing/editing, graphics and interactivity.

Yearbook/Magazine Pacemakers

Yearbook/Magazine Pacemakers are judged based upon the following criteria: writing/editing, design, content, concept, photography, art and graphics.

In conjunction with the Yearbook Pacemaker competition, ACP/NSPA will recognize with an award of excellence the best interactive (CD/DVD) yearbooks in a separate contest. Interactive entries must include a copy of the printed book.

Broadcast Pacemakers

The NSPA awards Broadcast Pacemaker awards for student-produced television news programs at high schools.

An entry consists of a student-produced news program or segment of a longer news program, on VHS format video tape. For the purposes of this competition, student-produced means that the majority of the planning, writing, scripting, taping and editing of the program was done by students.

This contest is unique to the high school level, as no similar award is offered by the ACP to college broadcast programs.

Past Winners

The following is a partial list of college and high school newspapers which have been awarded a National Newspaper Pacemaker Award by the Associated Collegiate Press or National Scholastic Press Association, respectively.

College newspapers

College magazines

The Collegian (South Dakota State University)

College Online Pacemaker

Broadcast Pacemaker

High school newspapers

High School Online Pacemaker

Silver Chips Online (Montgomery Blair High Schoolmarker) (2004, 2005)

High school yearbooks

High School Newsmagazines


  1. NSPA - Contest Winners
  2. NSPA - Contest Winners
  3. [1]
[1] Wink, Christopher. Aug. 28, 2007. "Perspectives on the Temple community finally find home here." The Temple News. [171127]

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