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Student Newspaper Receives National Recognition

April 15, 2013 — The Midwestern State University student newspaper, The Wichitan, was named a finalist for a national award, the Pacemaker, given by the Associated Collegiate Press.

Caden Burross, online editor, said, "I was surprised. We do an amazing job, but our website is just in its infancy, this being its fourth full semester."

Hannah Hofmann, former co-editor of The Wichitan and one of the creators of the site, said, "It shows that the Mass Communication department continues to thrive for something better. Being recognized nationally shows that the size of the school is not everything. Students going to a smaller college can still achieve great accomplishments."

Hofmann, who graduated in December of 2012, added, "The students have done a tremendous job transitioning to be an online college news source."

The Wichitan, advised by Dr. Bradley Wilson, an assistant professor in Mass Communication and director of student media, was one of 54 finalists in the contest out of 277 entries.

A panel of professionals with extensive online media experience judged the contest and noted that the most successful sites had clean and accessible designs, excellent writing and editing, strong handling of breaking news, and superb social integration.

Burross said, "It's still growing into what we want it to be: a clean, concise destination for students to get campus news in a timely fashion. We hope to make full use of the digital environment as we expand, including video, interactive, and social media."

But Hofmann, who co-edited the paper with current editor Brittany Cottingham, said the growth of the site and the staff's ability to utilize the online environment was challenging.

Hofmann said, "The most difficult part was changing the way we think about the work we produce and how we want to present it. All the sudden we had the option to post stories online. We could add pictures and videos and allow our users to be more interactive."

And she said she hopes it will grow in breadth and depth over time.

"The website is going to become more important to the users, and students will become better online journalists," she said. "I hope the site will be updated even more frequently, featuring breaking news and continuing to produce strong work."

Considered one of the two highest awards for college media in the nation, the online Pacemaker winners will be announced at the 92nd Annual ACP/CMA National College Media Convention in New Orleans October 26.

This is the second time the paper has been a finalist for this national award. In 2004, the print edition of the paper (Matt Terrell, editor; Randy Pruitt, adviser) was a finalist for the Pacemaker.