NSPA names West Side Story a Pacemaker finalist

28 winners to be announced next month at virtual convention


NSPA names top newspapers, magazines in its Pacemaker contest. In this competition, only the print news product was judged. Online Pacemaker finalists will be announced in February.

The National Scholastic Press Association named the 2020-2021 West Side Story staff a Newspaper/Newsmagazine Pacemaker finalist on Oct. 21. Pacemaker finalists will be recognized and the Pacemaker winners announced for the first time at the NSPA Awards Ceremony at 3  p.m. Nov. 13, as part of the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention, presented virtually.

“The Pacemaker is the association’s preeminent award,” Executive Director Laura Widmer said. “NSPA is honored to recognize the best of the best.”

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 65 Pacemaker finalists represent 18 states and the District of Columbia as well as the United Kingdom. Of the 65 newspapers, newsmagazines and specialty magazines recognized as finalists, 28 will earn Pacemakers.

In all, 150 student news and specialty publications from 31 states, the District of Columbia, South Korea and the United Kingdom entered the Pacemaker competition, representing a slight drop from the previous year.

Two teams of three judges worked remotely judging and studying every entry discussing its strengths and weaknesses.

The  publications competed against those of similar types — tabloid newspaper, broadsheet newspaper, newsmagazine, specialty magazine and junior high/middle school.

Insights and observations from the judges about the Pacemaker winning publications will be posted after the Pacemaker winners are announced along with the names and professional bios of the judges.

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.

“With the pandemic impacting schools across the country, many of the papers and magazines submitted for the competition were produced with student journalists working under very challenging situations,” Lundgren said.  “The high-quality journalism these publications provided, against all odds, is remarkable.”

In this competition, only the print news product was judged. A separate Online Pacemaker competition will announce top scholastic media website finalists in February and winners at the NSPA/JEA spring convention in L.A. in April.