The Battalion is one of 15 four-year college newspapers selected by the Associated Collegiate Press to receive its prestigious Newspaper Pacemaker Award, distinguishing the publication as one of the best student papers in the country.
The award, often referred to as the “Pulitzer of college journalism,” was last earned by The Battalion in 2008, though the paper was a finalist in 2012. Judges selected the 2019 Pacemaker winners based on each publication’s work during the 2018-2019 school year. For The Battalion, this included coverage of George H.W. Bush’s state funeral, Aggie football’s historic 74-72 victory over LSU and a special edition on racist images in Texas A&M yearbooks, as well as the paper’s extensive three-part series on the Corps of Cadets.
“We had a busy year,” said 2018-2019 managing editor and current editor-in-chief Luke Henkhaus. “It means a lot to receive this level of recognition, and everyone from last year’s staff should be very proud of the work they put in.”
Pacemaker winners were announced in November at the National College Media Convention in Washington, D.C., where The Battalion received several other national honors for a total of 14. Battalion managing editor Samantha Mahler attended the conference along with Elizabeth Liu, editor-in-chief of the Aggieland yearbook.
“Being able to travel to an area of the country I had never been to was so exciting, and to be able to represent The Battalion was the cherry on top,” Mahler said. “For five days, I was able to explore national history while sitting in on journalism workshops.”
In the College Media Association’s Pinnacle awards, The Battalion was the runner up to the University of Texas’ Daily Texan in the Four-Year Daily Newspaper of the Year category. The Battalion took home first place Pinnacles for best special section of four pages or less and best newspaper front-page design.
Former Battalion photo chief Cassie Stricker earned first place in the general news photo category of both the Pacemaker and Pinnacle awards, receiving individual recognition for her photo of George W. Bush delivering his father’s eulogy.
The Aggieland was a finalist for the Four-year Yearbook Pacemaker for the first time since 2015. It received three other national honors, including second place in the Pacemaker awards for yearbook cover of the year.
Mahler, who has been selected as editor-in-chief of The Battalion for the spring 2020 semester, said while A&M’s student publications work for much more than just awards, it is gratifying to receive so many honors on the national stage.
“Sure, when we write these stories, there might be the idea of winning an award in the back of our minds,” Mahler said. “After all, we have awards from previous staff members hanging around the newsroom for inspiration and encouragement. But for our staff, the duty to tell the stories of our campus, to document them clearly and honestly, is a responsibility that tugs on our hearts.”