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We’re No. 1! Loyola’s 100-year-old student newspaper named nation’s best, vies for the Pacemaker 

By Loyola University on Mon, 10/24/2022 - 12:36

(New Orleans, La. – October 24, 2022) News flash! Loyola University New Orleans’ student newspaper the Maroon is officially the nation’s Best All-Around Student Newspaper among small college newspapers, according to the Society of Professional Journalists.  And this week, the paper vies for yet another Pacemaker Award from the Associated College Press, known in media circles as “the Pulitzer Prize of College Journalism.”  If they win the Pacemaker this year, as they did in 2021, they will take home the eighth Pacemaker Award in the Maroon’s nearly 100-year history.

 “To get this level of recognition from both the SPJ and ACP is heartwarming – being recognized both by the professional media and the people who specialize in college media,” Mike Giusti, ’00, M.B.A. ’12, chair of the Journalism Department.

 Giusti, a former Maroon editor himself and adviser to the paper since 2006, and eight students who work for the Maroon will travel to Washington, D.C. next week to “Media Fest,” a joint convention of the two professional organizations. 

They’ll head to the Convention Hall on Friday, October 28, to learn whether they’ve won the Associated College Press’ Newspaper Pacemaker Award. The Pacemaker Award is considered the highest institutional honor in student journalism. (Simply being finalists already places them in the nation’s Top 10 percent.) 

Then, one hour later, they will head to the National Press Club to pick up their award from the Society of Professional Journalists, which announced last week that the Maroon is the Best All-Around Student Newspaper in the country, among small universities. 

It’s all in a day’s work for the Loyola journalism students who consider themselves a top media outlet. Their newsroom includes the newspaper, a broadcast segment called the Maroon Minute, a mobile app, a strong social media presence, a podcast and an email newsletter.  

“We’re trying to find our audience wherever they are,” said Giusti, who trains students to track analytics and look at where the community is interacting with them most on various topics, then trying to tell the best story using the best medium. “There is this notion that journalism is suffering. And sure, it’s got its issues, but we’re finding ways to tell the stories using all the new tools that are emerging, and we’re using the change for an advantage, rather than an obstacle.”

Winners already, they’re planning to celebrate that night with alumni making headlines in the Capitol, including: Colleen O’Lear, head of curation and platforms at the Washington Post, Hank Steuver, editor for the Washington Post Style section, Ylan Mui, an anchor for CNBC, and Rob Treadway, a top public relations professional in Washington.

The high honors come on the heels of the global pandemic and Hurricane Ida. Both situations threw the newsroom and flung reporters into remote operations for indefinite periods of time. Flexibility, technology, and core journalism strengths helped them to continually pivot and meet demands for news coverage. 

“We were a college campus dealing with COVID and that became the defining story – dating and COVID, studying with COVID, evacuating in COVID. We went from exile in COVID to exile from Hurricane Ida to going home early in our fall semester because of COVID,” Giusti said. “Through all the adversity, the students took care of themselves, but also were able to take care of the community and tell its story.”