Orion Online earns first Pacemaker

The Orion, California State University, Chico’s student newspaper, has won its first Online Pacemaker award for the Web-based edition of its publication.

The Pacemaker awards are among the most prestigious for college journalism and are given annually by Associated Collegiate Press, the oldest and largest national organization for college journalists.

Thirteen other colleges and universities across the country also received the honor, including student newspapers from University of Illinois and University of Kansas, and three from the CSU: The Collegian from Fresno State, the Mustang Daily from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and the Golden Gate [X]Press from San Francisco State.

Online newspapers were judged on their design, ease of navigation, writing and editing, graphics and interactivity over the period of February and March 2007.

The awards were announced Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007, at the National College Media Convention in Washington, D.C. Orion Managing Editor Chelsea Accursi attended the event and accepted the award.

“News organizations of all sorts and sizes have to be aware that the news business is 24-7 these days, which is why a newspaper needs a strong online presence,” said Dave Waddell, Orion adviser. “I think the Orion Online has improved dramatically in the past year in terms of posting breaking news reports and in its multi-media presentations. I’m glad that the Pacemaker judges recognized the quality of our site.”

Former Orion staff member Zuri Berry, who was Orion Online editor during the judging period, said he believes a combination of steady progress and special attention to the Virginia Tech tragedy made the difference. “During my tenure I thought we made strides as far as blogging and updating the site to work in a daily fashion, podcasting weekly and having an increased amount of slideshows. But I still couldn't see our Web site above the pack. If anything, our remarkable editorial staff that provided the breaking news alerts and our coverage of Virginia Tech from Virginia online must have been the ultimate reasons we were considered for this honor.” Berry is now a sports writer for the Grass Valley Union newspaper.

The Orion has previously won 10 Pacemakers for general excellence, including four straight such awards from 2003 to 2006.

Among the newspaper’s other honors is being named best university newspaper by the California Newspaper Publishers Association a record nine times over the past 13 years. The Orion was inducted into the Associated Collegiate Press Hall of Fame in 2005 for its record of achievement.

The Orion, first published in 1975, is a laboratory newspaper of CSU, Chico’s Department of Journalism, which has one of the top news-editorial programs in the country. The Orion Online has been on the Web since 1994.