Campus: CSU Chico -- November 15, 2004

The Orion Wins Eighth National Pacemaker

California State University, Chico's student newspaper, The Orion, has won its eighth National Pacemaker award-widely considered the top prize for general excellence in college journalism.

The award was presented Saturday by Tom Rolnicki, the executive director of the Associated Collegiate Press, at the 83rd annual National College Media Convention. Held at Nashville's Renaissance hotel, the convention attracted more than 2,600 college journalists from throughout the United States and Canada.

In announcing this year's winners, Rolnicki noted that the National Pacemaker is often referred to as "the Pulitzer Prize of college journalism." The staff of the Nashville Tennessean newspaper did the judging for this year's Pacemaker. The Orion's entry included one issue from fall 2003 and three issues from spring 2004.

In addition to the Pacemaker plaque, The Orion received the first-place trophy in the Best of Show competition as the convention's top university weekly broadsheet. Forty other newspapers entered that category, with second place going to the Old Gold and Black at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., and third place to The Breeze at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

"To my knowledge, this was the first time in the same year that The Orion has won both the national Pacemaker and finished first in Best of Show at college journalism's biggest event," said Dave Waddell, who has been The Orion's faculty adviser for nine years. "It's a sweep that reflects the commitment and dedication of students current and past."

Orion Managing Editor Kristina Seward of Hilmar accepted the two awards on behalf of The Orion staff. "It gives us a boost to know that we're the best at what we do, and that we're setting the pace of college journalism," Seward said. "This award makes us even more proud to be part of The Orion and its tradition of excellence."

The paper's art director, Greg Traverso of Chico, who also attended the convention, spearheaded a re-design of The Orion during the summer. "The awards are a tribute to the hard work and cooperation of the entire staff," Traverso said. "We work as a team, and we're very proud of our newspaper."

Melody Gutierrez of Twentynine Palms was managing editor in fall 2003, and Sarah Schaale of Sacramento held that post in spring 2004. Jessie Gardner of Reno was art director both semesters. Gutierrez is now a staff writer for The Sacramento Bee.

The Orion has been a Pacemaker finalist 14 times since 1989. The national award this year was its second straight and eighth overall.

In addition to the Pacemaker awards, The Orion has captured a slew of state, regional and national awards. In September, the National Newspaper Association named The Orion the nation's best university newspaper.

The Orion, founded in 1975, is a laboratory newspaper of Chico State's nationally accredited department of journalism.

Contact: Kathleen McPartland, 530-898-4260, Dave Waddell, Journalism, 530-898-4782

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