WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Iowa State Daily took home top honors from the Associated Collegiate Press/College Media Association National College Media Convention, held Oct. 31 through Nov. 3 in Washington, D.C. Iowa State Daily staff and students were in attendance to collect the Pacemaker, the highest award given by the Associated Collegiate Press, along with Greenlee faculty.
The award recognized work from the 2018-2019 school year, when Alex Connor served as the Daily editor-in-chief and current editor-in-chief Annelise Wells served as the news editor of academics. The Daily has been a finalist for the award 10 times since 2000, and this year’s Pacemaker marks the third win for the student newspaper. Entries are judged based on coverage and content, quality of writing, reporting, leadership, design, photography and graphics.
Mark Witherspoon, editorial advisor of the Daily, said last year’s success came from Connor and the editorial team providing coverage of traumatic and outstanding events, as well as greater engagement with the Ames community. Witherspoon praised the leadership Connor fostered during her time as editor.
"She put together a really nice, talented set of editors that led the newroom, and you see that this year because all of those editors are running the show," Witherspoon said.
While she knew the Daily was being honored as a finalist, Wells said it was even more exciting to learn they had won the Pacemaker.
"Awards aren’t everything, but it’s very nice to be recognized as one of the best newspapers in the country. It just made me appreciate my staff even more and it’s nice to know other people realize, just like I do, how much work we put in and how much love that we have for our publication," said Wells, a junior in journalism and mass communication.
Notable stories covered during the 2018-2019 school year included the death of Celia Barquín Arozamena and Iowa’s election of its first female governor, as well as new initiatives such as the Daily Dialogue, #AskMeAmes and the "I Am More Than" series.
"We were reaching out to the community in a lot more different ways than we had before. You’re not only talking to the community with Monday Monologues or Campus Conversations, but you’re also letting the community talk with itself, with other people," Witherspoon said.
Students and faculty met up with Connor, who graduated in 2019, as well as other Greenlee graduates who attended and presented at the convention. Connor now works in Washington, D.C., as a digital producer for USA Today. Lisa Villa, a 2016 Greenlee alumna, currently works for TIME Magazine covering politics. Jessie Opoien, also a former editor-in-chief for the Daily and 2011 Greenlee graduate, covers government and politics for the Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin. All three were also Sidey Scholarship recipients in 2018, 2014 and 2010 respectively.
Sarah Estes, a designer for the Daily and Model Farm and a senior in graphic design, took home first place in the design award category for an illustration highlighting President Trump’s most-used words in the 2019 State of the Union address. The Daily also earned a third-place award from the College Media Association for the Pinnacle Award honoring the top daily newspaper at a four-year university.
"You could see it in their eyes, that they want to be held to that standard and they want to do the work that it takes to make it to that standard which is being one of the best student newspapers in the nation. You see that desire in students to do what it takes. Essentially, what they do is ask, "What does it take to get there?" You tell them, they do it and we get there again and again and again and again," Witherspoon said.
Wells said she’s finding her footing as the Daily’s editor-in-chief this year and is proud of her staff and their work.
"All of us have so much love and passion for what we do and we work so hard every single day because we want to serve our community," Wells said. "That’s our number one goal, to keep serving the community in the best way possible, whether that wins awards or not," Wells said.
Associated Collegiate Press
- Pacemaker Award: Iowa State Daily
- Best Design: Sarah Estes (senior in graphic design)
- Honorable Mentions:
- Best Newspaper Front Page: Isaiah Johnson (junior in integrated studio arts), Sarah Estes (senior in graphic design)
- Best Multimedia News Story Package: A community in mourning: remembering Celia Barquin Arozamena, Iowa State Daily Staff
- Best Photo Slideshow: Photos: Vigil held to honor Celia Barquín Arozamena, Katlyn Campbell (senior in journalism and mass communication), Chris Jorgensen (senior in journalism and mass communication), Mikinna Kerns (’19 integrated studio arts)
College Media Association
- Pinnacle Award – 3rd Place: Iowa State Daily