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Central Washington University

CWU student newspaper named finalist for national honor


ELLENSBURG, Wash. (September 27, 2012) — For the second year in a row, the Observer, Central Washington University’s student-run and student-written weekly newspaper, has been named a finalist for the prestigious Pacemaker Award, given by the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) to honor the nation’s top college newspapers for “general excellence.”

“I am so incredibly proud of our staff of last year. Everyone worked really hard, and I'm so glad to see it paying off now,” said 2011-2012 Editor-in-Chief Katharine Lotze, of Benton City, now an intern at The Huffington Post. “The Observer is making a name for itself now and we're starting to shine above the bigger schools in our state for our journalism program, and I'm proud to say that I'm a graduate of the program, and that I got to be a part of the Observer every year I attended Central.”

ACP’s national contests are considered the equivalent to the Pulitzer Prizes for college journalism. The Observer is one of 25 finalists in the category for four-year colleges publishing less frequently than daily, the contest’s biggest category. Winners will be announced at the 91st Annual ACP/CMA (College Media Advisers) National College Media Convention in Chicago on Nov. 3. The Observer was the only paper in Washington or Oregon to be named a Pacemaker finalist.

To qualify, papers were given three dates and asked to submit papers closest to those dates, plus one of their choosing. Entries in the 2011-2012 Pacemaker contest were judged by professional journalists at the Sacramento Bee on six criteria:

          Coverage and content: Were all aspects of student life covered (academics/sports/ clubs/local news, etc.)? Was the use of wire/syndicated copy limited (especially on pg. 1)? Was there evidence of sound news judgment?

          Quality of writing and reporting: Was the writing concise and the reporting thorough? Was writing free of opinion (with the exception of editorials or columns)? Was the copy edited for consistent style?

          Leadership on the opinion page: Did staff editorials, cartoons, and letters supplement personal columns? Did the staff demonstrate sensitivity to controversial topics? Was the content of the editorial page consequential?

          Evidence of in-depth reporting: Did major stories show evidence of multiple sources? Are series or depth pieces prominent in entered issues?

          Layout and design: Was the look of the paper clean and contemporary? Was a consistent modular page makeup used throughout the publication? Did designers establish a clear visual hierarchy for readers?

          Photography, art and graphics: Did visuals enhance the verbal content and draw the reader in? Did visuals improve the reader’s understanding of the accompanying story? Were photos properly credited? Was the quality of photos and art technically excellent?

Also in 2012, the Observer won two Society of Professional Journalists Region 10 Mark of Excellence Awards.

The Observer, which has a circulation of 6,000, is available at newsstands across campus and in Ellensburg, as well as at and A list of the Pacemaker finalists is at 

Students interested in reporting and writing, photography, cartooning, graphic arts or advertising should contact the Observer’s fall quarter Editor-in-Chief Danny Schmidt at or come to the staff meetings from 4-4:50 in Bouillon Hall 144.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,


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