The Daily Pennsylvanian recently received several college journalism accolades, including the prestigious Pacemaker award and several Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Awards and Pinnacle Awards.
This is the second year in a row the DP has won the Pacemaker award, which is given out by the Associated Collegiate Press and is commonly referred to as the “Pulitzer Prize” of college journalism. Prior to 2017, the DP had not won the Pacemaker for five years.
This year, the DP was one of 11 publications to win the award and the only Ivy League university newspaper to do so. Other winners include The Daily Orange at Syracuse University and The Daily Texan at the University of Texas at Austin. Close to 170 publications entered the competition this year, up from 155 in 2017.
College newspapers around the nation submit four representative issues to the ACP for the Pacemaker award. In its submission, the DP included their special issue capturing the celebrations after the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl victory as well as an issue that investigated mental health at Penn.
"Our editors this year have really thought about how every department can contribute to a larger narrative or undertaking," DP Inc President and College senior David Akst said. "This really comes through in our special issues, for example the recent midterm elections guide, where we’re able to produce focused and targeted content that students care about.”
Executive Editor Rebecca Tan agreed, adding that given the DP's limited resources, it is particularly notable to be recognized alongside publications like The Daily Orange at Syracuse, which has one of the strongest journalism schools in the country.
"It’s hard to do journalism at Penn since there’s no journalism school or major and very few people are inherently interested in careers in journalism," said Tan, a College senior. "We also don’t get the kind of institutional support many of the other winners of the Pacemaker have, so it’s remarkable that we’re able to find such a dedicated group of people to serve their community without any kind of compensation."
When asked what they thought stood out in the DP's submissions this year, Tan said she felt this year's selections demonstrated the newsroom's ability to cover a wide range of topics. Akst noted the DP's increasing success in contextualizing large national issues within discussions that happen on Penn’s campus.
Apart from the Pacemaker, the DP also received 12 accolades from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association for individual stories from across its publications. These include best nonfiction article for 34th Street Magazine's feature on the experiences of Asian students dating at Penn and best sports article for former DP Sports Editor Cole Jacobson's article on Penn Men's Basketball making the NCAA tournament earlier this year.
“There has definitely been a sense of shared purpose within the editorial board that has crystallized and really started to work," Akst said. "I’m very excited to see us get this external validation for the work we’re doing."