The Arrow, Southeast's award-winning student-run news organization, was recently recognized during the virtual Associated Collegiate Press (ACP)/College Media Association (CMA) Fall National College Media Convention.
On Thursday, Oct. 14, the Arrow staff was recognized as a finalist in the ACP Pacemaker awards for general excellence. The following day, the Arrow earned two honorable mentions in the CMA Pinnacle awards for broadcasting, marking the first time the Arrow has been recognized nationally in this category.
Eighty-one newspapers entered the ACP Pacemaker competition this year, and the Arrow was among 36 newspapers to be named finalists.
The Pacemaker Awards are presented by the Associated Collegiate Press to newspapers that demonstrate excellence in key areas including coverage, writing, editing, design and photography. In addition, the finalist newspapers took risks and served as a strong voice for its student audience.
“This is one competition in which being named a finalist is a true indication of quality because the finalists are a variety of school sizes, with nominees being fully independent, or coming from academic units and student affairs divisions,” said Dr. Tamara Zellars Buck, chair of Southeast’s Department of Mass Media and Arrow faculty advisor. “It's very competitive, and I'm happy that the Arrow has been named several times in the past decade.”
In the CMA Pinnacle Awards competition, the Arrow was recognized with honorable mentions for Best Audio Newscast and Best Audio Special Event Coverage. CMA's Pinnacle Awards honor the best college media organizations and individual work. The contest is open to student work produced for any college media organization, including print, broadcast and online outlets, during an academic year.
“The Arrow staff is getting more experimental in terms of their audio, visual and deeper storytelling, and the quality of their work is also improving,” Buck said. “The proof of this is in their two Broadcast Pinnacles. This is the first time we've been recognized at the national level in this category, and both honors involved products from the Arrow Podcast Network, which they debuted last year. I'm excited when they come to me with new ideas they want to try, and I think it's great that they were honored for their efforts.”
For Best Audio Newscast, the Arrow was honored for its “Arrow on the Air” podcast, which covers an array of topics such as news, culture and sports, and is hosted by a rotating cast of hosts and storytellers, according to Arrow Editor Nathan Gladden.
“I think the show really offers something for everyone with its weekly dose of news,” Gladden said. “What makes the show notable and special, in my opinion, is its range of not just topics but voices. Unlike a lot of other podcasts where a person would hear the same voice on a more regular basis, ‘Arrow On the Air’ gives the audience many different perspectives and voices to choose from.”
In the Best Audio Special Event Coverage category, the Arrow was recognized for its reaction coverage to the death of American radio personality Rush Limbaugh.
“All the work that went into the coverage was from Clayton Hester, our former multimedia editor, and you could always tell he approached that podcast and the podcast network with a passion almost unrivaled,” Gladden said. “He always loved working on the network, along with ‘Arrow On The Air’ and the special event coverage. He produced those types of shows with the utmost enthusiasm, and I think most people can tell that when they hear the final product.”
Moving forward, Gladden said he wants to focus on connecting with the Southeast community and hopes the Arrow will become an even more prominent source of reliable information for students to keep up with their peers and instructors on campus.
“I'm looking to make that title of ‘finalist’ into ‘winner’ in next year's go-round,” Gladden said. “The awards are indicative of how much time and care the team puts into everything we do; it's truly encouraging for me to see all the effort that everyone puts into the organization.”
The competitions are also a great chance for Arrow students to draw inspiration from the successes of other colleges around the country, Gladden said.
“There are a lot of ways to measure excellence,” he said. “The way I, and the rest of the staff, think about it is usually in terms of dedication to a person's work. It's in how a person wants to see a story through and finish it within a certain amount of time. When you see a person that has that type of dedication, I think you're looking at excellence in the making.”
Buck said the Arrow has been working for more than a decade to become a true multimedia news organization, rather than one focused solely on print journalism.
“I believe we turned a corner over the past two years, and especially with our return to campus last fall,” Buck said. “Media professionals have repeatedly told me our students have the skills they want to see in recent graduates, and I'm proud to say the Arrow is giving them the leverage they need to be competitive in the job market.”