Mill Valley News honored as 2020 Online Pacemaker finalist

The National Scholastic Press Association honors 28 high school news sites for journalistic excellence


The National Scholastic Press Association named Mill Valley News as one of the 28 scholastic news site finalists in the prestigious Pacemaker competition, an award for excellence in American student journalism.

Mill Valley News staff

For the fifth time in nine years, Mill Valley News Online has been named a Pacemaker finalist by National Scholastic Press Association. Honoring the nation’s best, the Pacemaker is considered the “Pulitzer Prize” of high school journalism. For the 2019-2020 school year, NSPA named 28 scholastic news sites as finalists. 

The NSPA Pacemaker award has a rich tradition and the association started presenting the award to high school newspapers a few years after the organization was founded in 1921. Throughout the years, yearbooks, magazines, online sites and broadcast programs were added to the competition.

 “The Pacemaker is the association’s preeminent award,” said Laura Widmer, NSPA executive director. “NSPA is honored to recognize the best of the best.” 

Co-editors for the website are juniors Anna Owsley and Ben Wieland, and the adviser is Kathy Habiger. Wieland appreciates the honor. 

“I’m extremely happy that our site has been recognized as a Pacemaker finalist,” Wieland said. “It’s a reflection of all the hard work that our staff has put in all year long.”

The 28 finalists represent 12 states, including two from Kansas, Mill Valley News and The Harbinger Online from Shawnee Mission East. To select the 28 Pacemaker finalists, judges carefully studied approximately 185 sites submitted from 30 states and three countries. The online sites competed in two different categories based on school population. Two teams of three judges studied every entry, analyzing its strengths. The status of each entry was agreed upon by at least two of the three judges.

While the judges have named the Pacemaker finalists, the Pacemaker winners have not been selected. “The judging teams will now continue to study the sites named as Pacemaker finalists on a frequent basis,” said Gary Lundgren, associate director and coordinator of the Pacemaker competition. “The Pacemaker winners will be selected shortly before they are named on April 18, so for the 28 schools we are naming as finalists today, the competition is really just heating up.” 

Pacemaker finalists will be recognized with plaques at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 16 at the Opening Ceremony of the Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Nashville. Only the Pacemaker winners will be announced and will receive plaques on Saturday, April 18 at convention’s Closing Ceremony.

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