The COVID pandemic prevented the nation from coming to Atlanta to celebrate student media. It did not stop students in Atlanta from having reasons to learn and to celebrate.
Members of The Signal, Underground and Panther Report (NeoN) received 10 awards at the fall 2020 National College Media Convention, held virtually Oct. 22-24, 2020. The convention serves student and adviser members of the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) and the College Media Association (CMA).
This included ACP Pacemaker honors for Underground, a first for Georgia State publications. ACP has sponsored or co-sponsored the Pacemakers (originally founded in 1927) since 1961. Underground was recognized in the Magazine-Literary Arts category. Pacemaker awards are often informally referred to as the “Pulitzer Prizes of student journalism.”
The award recognized excellence in the Fall 2019 issue of Underground, themed “In Transit.”
We poured it all into creating this collection of Georgia State exclusive art and literature. Most of us had no prior experience: we were the wild card. But to be honest, the moment we finished our final proofread, I knew we had it in the bag.
~ Cayce Tiedemann, 2019-20 Underground Editor-in-Chief
This marked the first year that Georgia State University media outlets were finalists in three separate Pacemaker categories: NeoN’s PRN was recognized in the resurrected Broadcast category and The Signal received its third finalist placement in six years.
The Pacemaker ceremony kicked off a two-day virtual convention where students learned from professionals and peers. Breakout Zoom sessions and critiques were paired alongside recognition of student work in journalism, literature and film. The event was originally scheduled to be held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta before being transitioned into a virtual format.
More than 3,100 entries were submitted into this year’s CMA competition, a record number according to Len O’Kelly, emcee for the Pinnacle ceremony.
Laura Widmer, ACP’s Executive Director, complemented student media staffs from across the country during the Pacemaker Awards ceremony for their hard work in adverse circumstances. “2020 has been difficult. However, you have met it head-on, and you have covered the budget woes, the racial tensions, the election, the climate change, and COVID-19 stories on your campuses. And you have done it in an extraordinary manner.”
The Signal received a 1st place award in both the ACP Individual and CMA Pinnacle Awards. The staff was recognized in the ACP Editorial category for its commentary on the Henry Grady statue. Current Editor-in-Chief Brooklyn Valera and staffer Imani Dennis topped the Pinnacles’ General News Story category for their coverage of the SGA election. For the second straight year, Amanda Dixon-Shropshire ranked 2nd in the Cartoon of the Year- Comic Panel/Strip category.
With a great team and foundation, many of us were able to see the value of our work on a National scale. We will hold this event dear because it shined a light on all of our work at a very dark time.
~ Brooklyn Valera, The Signal Editor-in-Chief
A total of 15 Georgia State students and staff participated in the weekend convention. With the lessons learned, they are hopeful that more honors will be forthcoming in their future. NeoN News Director Elisheva Wimberly was one of two individual Georgia State honorees in the convention’s Best in Show. She appreciated the opportunity to attend.
The workshops were well organized and open for questions. The opportunities to network were still available and you were able to listen to every speaker as if you were the only person in the room. I hope to get the in-person experience one day but the virtual convention exceeded all my expectations.
The full list of honors for Georgia State Student Media:
- Underground, Pacemaker, Magazine (Literary Arts), Four-Year Schools
- The Signal, Pacemaker finalist, Newspaper
- PRN (NeoN), Pacemaker finalist, Broadcast
- Staff, 1st place, Story of the Year- Editorial
- Amanda Dixon-Shropshire, 2nd place, Cartoon of the Year- Comic Panel/Strip
Pinnacle Awards national competition
- Brooklyn Valera and Imani Dennis, 1st place, Best General News Story