NSPA names West Side Story a Newspaper Pacemaker finalist

The National Scholastic Press Association will announce Pacemaker winners in Washington, D.C. this November


2018-2019 West Side Story newspaper staff


The National Scholastic Press Association named the 2018-2019 West Side Story staff a Newspaper Pacemaker finalist today for the second year in a row. Deniz Ince ’19 was the editor-in-chief of the newspaper.

The NSPA Pacemaker award has a rich tradition and the association started presenting the award to high school newspapers a few years after the organization was founded in 1921. Throughout the years, yearbooks, magazines, online sites and broadcast programs were added to the competition.

“The Pacemaker is the association’s preeminent award,” said Laura Widmer, executive director, in a press release. “NSPA is honored to recognize the best of the best.”

These Pacemaker finalists will be recognized and the Pacemaker winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention, Nov. 21-24, in Washington, D.C.

The 49 Pacemaker finalists represent 16 states and the United Kingdom. California, Missouri and Texas set the pace with eight finalists each.

In all, 220 student news publications from 33 states entered the Pacemaker competition. 

Two teams of three judges devoted two days to the judging. They studied every entry and discussed its strengths and weaknesses. 

In the first round of the competition, the news publications competed against those of similar types — tabloid newspaper, broadsheet newspaper, newsmagazine, specialty magazine and junior high/middle school.

When the process was finished, the 49 Pacemaker finalists were named. From that group, 19 will earn the Pacemaker award placing those publications in the top 9 percent. 

Insights and observations from the judges about the Pacemaker-winning newspapers will be posted when the Pacemaker winners are announced, along with the names and professional bios of the judges. The judges have provided written specific summaries about each Pacemaker winner, as well as video comments about the process and the entries.

In addition to demonstrating excellence in key areas including coverage, writing, editing, design and photography, the winning newspapers took risks and served as a strong voice for its student audience.

“The best newspapers and newsmagazines delivered relevant coverage that resonated with student readers and the school community with appropriate sourcing, abundant student quotes and consistent journalistic style,” said Gary Lundgren, associate director and coordinator of the competition. “The Pacemakers represent the best in verbal and visual storytelling.”

Even in a digital age, print publications are thriving in high schools across the country, Lundgren said. Most print news publications have shifted to more in-depth coverage and now report breaking news on companion websites.

In this competition, only the print news product was judged. A separate NSPA 2019 Online Pacemaker competition recognized 44 online news sites in April. Several schools earned Pacemaker honors for both their print and online products.