The Occidental was selected by the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) as a 2021 Online Pacemaker Award winner, the preeminent distinction recognizing excellence in collegiate journalism. The ACP announced the awards Oct. 14 during the virtual Fall National College Media Convention. Just 14 newsrooms from across the country receive Online Pacemaker honors each year.
Throughout the 2020–2021 school year, The Occidental operated remotely. Its staff, including writers, photographers, illustrators, section editors, copy editors, podcast team, tech team, social media team and translation team continued to work across the world, often from childhood bedrooms and in different time zones.
“While we remained apart, our staff stayed connected to campus and Northeast LA (NELA),” Editor-in-Chief River Lisius (senior) said. “We never forgot our mission, and I think we started to realize that now more than ever, our paper could be a place where we could connect as a college community, and we reaffirmed our commitment to provide useful local news to the NELA community.”
During the 2020–2021 school year, the staff of The Occidental published articles on Title IX policy changes, catalytic converter thefts near campus, the cancellation of the football program, COVID-19 infection and vaccination rates in NELA, local unionization efforts and many “Letters from.” In addition, The Occidental started a joint Neighborhood Reporting Project with the Boulevard Sentinel.
The last time The Occidental received an Online Pacemaker Award was in 2017. The paper has been a finalist many times, including 2020. Last year, The Occidental was awarded third place by the ACP for its COVID-19 coverage “Letters From” — a series of letters from Occidental students working remotely during the pandemic.
“This award is really a testament to the hard work our staff has put in over the past year. We have some incredibly talented writers, and it’s exciting to have that talent recognized at a national level,” Lisius said.
Jackie Dall ’21, Charlie Finnerty (senior) and Lisius served as editor-in-chief in the Fall 2020, Spring 2021 and Fall 2021 semesters respectively.