Janet L. McCoy


AUBURN -- The Auburn University student newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman, has won a 2000 national Pacemaker Award for excellence in journalism, the college newspaper equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize.

It is the 13th national and 19th finalist Pacemaker Award the newspaper has received since 1966-67. This is the second consecutive year The Plainsman has won this award.

"What pleases me most as head of journalism is the sheer number of Pacemaker Awards won by The Auburn Plainsman," said Hal Foster, professor and head of AU's Department of Journalism. "This is one of the major indicators that the Auburn journalism program is one of the best in the United States."

Plainsman advisor Ed Williams, a professor of journalism at AU, added: "I'm honored to be associated with these fine student journalists, and I applaud and congratulate them for their well-deserved Pacemaker award. They display considerable courage and conviction -- attributes that will serve them well in life."

The award was presented at the Associated Collegiate Press and College Media Advisers, Inc. media convention in Washington D.C. It was accepted by AU journalism major Bill Barrow, 1999-2000 Plainsman editor who is interning this semester at the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va.

Barrow said the honor "brought final closure on an extremely successful year and I would not trade the year I spent as editor for anything.

"There are 25 staff members who deserve the credit and it's nice to know that the effort we all put into The Plainsman has been recognized by journalism professionals as quality work."

Judges from The Washington Post selected 22 student newspapers from across the nation to receive Pacemaker Awards in three categories -- four-year dailies, four-year non- dailies and two-year papers. Auburn won the award in the four- year non-dailies category and was one of 12 national winners.

The judging was based on coverage and content, quality of writing and reporting, leadership on the opinion page, evidence of in-depth reporting, design, photography, art and graphics.

Williams, who has been advisor for The Plainsman since 1985, said the paper improves each year.

"It takes the efforts of a lot of students, both in the news and editorial departments, and on the business and advertising staffs, to make it happen," he said. "The students don't spent countless hours each week in Foy Basement with the idea of trying to win a national award such as the Pacemaker, but when it happens it's just icing on the cake of something that's already rewarding.

"And it reflects the truly national reputation of The Plainsman for its excellence as a major college newspaper. The Plainsman's excellence is the result of the hard work and dedication of the students who volunteer their time to produce the paper."

Calling the Pacemaker the "college football equivalent of a national championship team," Williams says only two other school newspapers -- The Daily Tar Heel of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and The Indiana Daily Student at Indiana University -- have won more Pacemakers.

The ACP, a division of the National Scholastic Press Association, and the Newspaper Association of America Foundation have co-sponsored the Pacemaker competition since 1971. ACP began the awards in 1925.

The College Media Advisers, Inc., represents those who advise the nation's collegiate newspapers, yearbooks, magazines and electronic media.

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CONTACT: Williams, 334/844-4130; and Barrow