Associated Collegiate Press Honors Abilene with Highest Award

The Associated Collegiate Press honored Abilene Christian University's student-run newspaper with the organization's highest award recently for overall excellence in journalism.

Abilene's The Optimist was one of 25 newspapers from universities across the country, and one of only two from Texas, to receive the 2005 Pacemaker Award. Other newspapers receiving the award included The Harvard Crimson of Harvard University and the UTD Mercury of the University of Texas at Dallas.

"The Optimist was competing against much larger publications and universities, so this award really shows that the work our students produce is at least equal to some of the largest and more well-known programs in the country," said second-year editor Jonathan Smith, in a statement released by Abilene.

Smith accepted the award on behalf of The Optimist staff at the ACP annual convention in Kansas City, Mo., on Oct. 29. According to Abilene, this is the first Pacemaker Award for the newspaper since 1983.

"This honor is something we have been moving toward for the past few years," said Smith, a senior journalism major from Tyler, Texas. "We have been among the best newspapers in the state during past years, so to be able to take this next step in a national competition has been special."

According to the ACP website, the newspapers submitted for the award are judged on the following criteria: coverage and content, quality of writing and reporting, leadership on the opinion page, evidence of in-depth reporting, design, photography, art and graphics.

"This reflects the quality of work regularly done by members of the staff – especially the 2004-2005 members, the quality of ACU's Journalism and Mass Communication Department and the university’s strong commitment to journalism education," said Kenneth Pybus, The Optimist adviser and assistant professor of journalism and mass communication, in the Abilene statement.

In addition to the Pacemaker Award, The Optimist also regularly earns All American ranking by the ACP and was inducted into the ACP Hall of Fame in 1988.