Excalibur makes list of Pacemaker finalists

Congrats, Excalibur: We’re ACP Pacemakers!

Earlier this fall, Nicholas Maronese, the current editor-in-chief of York University’s Excalibur newspaper, completed some important paperwork.

Maronese entered the 2009-2010 issues of Excalibur – which were created during my term as editor-in-chief – in the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) Pacemaker Awards.

The awards are offered to exceptional American or Canadian student papers, and are judged by industry pros, which means they’re legitimate and a good indication of journalistic achievement.

Last week, these beauties arrived in the mail:

These plaques confirm that based on last year’s issues – the ones created during my term as editor – Excalibur has been selected as one of the ACP Pacemakers! This is the second piece of hardware we’ve received from an American institution for 2010, the first being a fifth-place spot in the ACP’s Best of Show contest.

It feels good to know that after giving a year of my life to Excalibur – possibly more if you count all the extra years that the stress and lack of sleep have cut from my life expectancy – our work is being appreciated. More than that, it’s winning awards.

Knowing that I have maintained Excalibur’s reputation as an ACP winner and an outstanding student newspaper validates all those sleepless nights on the office couch and early Tuesday mornings spent on the office floor in stitches (even stupid jokes become hilarious after 18 consecutive hours in the office).

I think it’s safe to say that I learned more last year – between slaving away for 60+ hours a week on the campus paper and spending overnight shifts in the Toronto Star’s radio room – than I have in my entire life. I learned about the impact that journalists can have on our communities after coordinating some hot investigations. I learned about the paramount importance of accuracy. I learned about how challenging it can be to get 15 impassioned people to work together as a unit.

But most importantly I learned a lot about myself, my strengths and where my limits are. And I discovered something that doesn’t surprise me: how energizing it is to work with a team of fantastic people towards a common goal (especially when that goal is to inform people of important things happening in their community).

There are people who disagree with how I ran the paper- a couple of student politicians whose interests weren’t best served by our coverage, a student club who didn’t appreciate a controversial story that we ran about them, a couple of section editors who had their own ideas about the direction we should go in.

But a journalist – an especially an editor-in-chief – has to become accustomed to this sort of thing. Not everyone’s going to agree with me, and not everyone is going to like me, either. In fact, in this business, hatred can be worn as a badge of honour, a testament to your strength and ballsy-ness and the fact that you aren’t going to let a couple of egos – or a desire to be well-liked – get in the way of the story.

I want to send a big thanks to everyone on last year’s editorial board, as well as all of our writers and volunteers. We may have not always agreed with one another, but we put out an incredible newspaper. Kudos.

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