Feb. 19, 2017
Biola University’s student newspaper, The Chimes, won the 2014 Online Pacemaker Award — the highest national award for student online publications — on Nov. 1 at the 93rd Annual Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) and College Media Advisers convention in Philadelphia, Pa. Biola alumna Olivia Blinn (’14) also won the third place prize for photographic excellence in the field of general news.
“The Pacemaker is validation for all the hard work we put in last year and the things we tried to accomplish together as a team,” said senior communication studies major Heather Leith, former editor-in-chief of The Chimes. “It’s the highest possible recognition you can get, so it’s an honor.”
Online Pacemaker winners were selected from hundreds of entries and were judged by journalism professionals with extensive online media credentials. According to ACP judges, “the most successful sites had clean and accessible designs, excellent writing and editing, strong handling of breaking news and had superb social integration.”
The Chimes’ shift to a “Web first” approach in recent years is what built the foundation for the publication to achieve the award for a second year. Elizabeth Sallie (’13), the editor-in-chief from 2011 to 2013, and Leith both played significant roles in helping the online staff develop a sense for a Web-first approach to news, sports and feature stories.
“It’s something that Sallie started to emphasize in her first year, three years ago now, and I just continued to emphasize,” said Leith. “We wanted to continue to strengthen our Web presence and just make that even better, so we focused a lot on our social media and really made the website our first priority.”
The shift of focus to Web-first continued to prove successful in the 2013–14 year, according to Leith. The Chimes increased its number of followers on all social media platforms and experienced an increase of 20,000 more visitors per month for average online readership compared to the previous year. Current editor-in-chief Anna Frost is continuing to expand the newspaper’s online presence.
“Heather and Sallie set a great example with how our work flow should go so we can become a site that students can count on to have new, informative and interesting content all the time,” said Frost. “Our staff has been creative about creating online-only content each week as well. Nearly every section has at least one story that is featured only on the website, which allows us to expand past the limitations of newspaper space and cover more stories.”
Michael Longinow, chair of Biola’s journalism and integrated media department, sees the continued success of The Chimes as evidence that Biola’s journalism students are capable of producing high-caliber, professional work, which will attract the attention of those interested in hiring outstanding students with a range of media skills.
“It shows that our students are thinking professionally,” said Longinow. “The students are thinking, how can we act and actually surpass what professionals are doing?”
Longinow is a longtime adviser for The Chimes and has spoken in the past at the Associated Collegiate Press and College Media Advisers conventions, as national executive director of Advisers for Christian Collegiate Media.
The Chimes’ online site has now been a finalist for three consecutive years. The print edition also won a Pacemaker award in 2011.
Olivia Blinn wins third-place prize for general news photography
Blinn received recognition in the ACP’s individual awards for her outstanding photography. She won the third prize for general news photography for a photo taken at Biola’s 2013 Nationball event.
“This is the first time that I’ve won a national award for my work and to receive that kind of acknowledgement is really encouraging,” said Blinn. “I was excited to learn that I was a finalist … and actually placing in the contest was even more thrilling.”
Blinn had previously received recognition for her photography through the California College Media Association, but this was her first time receiving national recognition through the ACP.
“For The Chimes to receive this kind of recognition is an affirmation that our hard work has continued to pay off,” said Blinn. “It makes me proud to have been a part of The Chimes, especially as they've now taken home a number of Pacemakers.”
Written by Stephen Day, iBiola Reporter. For more information contact Jenna Bartlo, media relations specialist, at 562.777.4016 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
media [dot] relations [at] biola [dot] edu