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Heights Wins Top Award for General Excellence

The Heights was the only college newspaper in Massachusetts to be honored for overall excellence. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Hou and Alex Hartwig)

By Kathleen Sullivan | Chronicle Staff

Published: Dec. 1, 2011

The Heights, Boston College’s independent student newspaper, has received a 2011 Associated Collegiate Press Newspaper Pacemaker Award for general excellence and outstanding achievement. The award, co-sponsored by the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, has recognized general excellence in collegiate newspapers for 84 years and is considered the highest honor in collegiate journalism.

This marks the first time The Heights, a finalist in 2006, 2007 and 2008, captured the award for general excellence. One of 13 national winners for general excellence in the category of non-daily newspapers from four-year colleges, The Heights was the only college newspaper in Massachusetts to be honored for overall excellence.

Heights Photography Editor Alex Trautwig ‘12 also won honorable mention in the Sports Picture category for his photograph of the sailing team on Dorchester Bay.

All ACP award entries were judged by professional journalists in the Washington, DC, area on criteria such as coverage and content, quality of writing and reporting, leadership of the opinion page, evidence of in-depth reporting, layout and design, photography, art and graphics. Winners were announced at the 90th Annual Associated Collegiate Press/College Media Association National College Media Convention in Orlando on Oct. 29.

“I think what distinguished us this year was the design,” said Heights Editor-in-Chief Michael Caprio ‘12, who oversaw the submission process. “We’ve got some great designers and the Arts & Review page has never looked better.”

Caprio, who submitted select editions of The Heights drawn from over the course of the 2010-11 academic year, was quick to credit Matt DeLuca ’11, who served as Heights editor-in-chief in 2010.

One of the pieces in The Heights’ winning portfolio was the May 2, 2011, issue which featured student reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden on the front page.

“That night was one of my most exciting as a news editor,” recalled Heights News Editor Taylour Kumpf ‘13, an English major from Columbus, Neb. “The front page was all laid out. But then we started hearing things on Twitter about Osama bin Laden. We watched President Obama give an address about bin Laden on our TV in the newsroom. Then we started getting texts about things happening on campus. It started in the Mods and traveled to Middle Campus. We sent some staff outside while the rest of us worked in the newsroom. The texts kept coming. Finally, we all ran outside.”

The decision was made to scrap the front page in favor of the breaking news. It was work that kept Kumpf and others there until nearly sunrise.

“It was a team effort to make that front page. So many people contributed,” added Kumpf, who assumes the post of Heights editor-in-chief effective in January.

Caprio, an economics major from Scituate, RI, said The Heights board is not resting on its laurels. “We are working on a new section to replace Marketplace and we are continuing to work on writing.”

With his tenure as editor-in-chief coming to a close, Caprio reflected on the highlights of his time on The Heights, notably the BC Institutional Master Plan’s impact on the campus, including the construction of Stokes Hall. “We’re at a unique position to view BC at a transition. The master plan has presented so many opportunities to chronicle University history.”