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The Graphic Student Newspaper Earns Three National Pacemaker Awards

Graphic student workers writing

The Graphic, Pepperdine University’s student newspaper, was recently awarded three prestigious honors—the Innovation Pacemaker, the Multiplatform Pacemaker, and the Newspaper/Newsmagazine Pacemaker—by the Associated College Press. In capturing these prestigious accolades, the Graphic and its student staff distinguishes Pepperdine’s campus news coverage as one of the nation’s best. 

“It’s almost hard to describe how proud I am of our students,” says Elizabeth Smith, assistant professor of communication at Seaver College and director of Pepperdine Graphic Media. “This past year they worked so hard in so many different capacities. They are making an effort to build trust,  increase transparency, and develop creative ways to connect with the audiences on and off campus. To see that effort being acknowledged by the Pacemakers is so overwhelming.”

Each accolade the Graphic recently earned represents a different facet of the newspaper’s dynamic approach to coverage. More specifically, the Innovation Pacemaker recognizes student news sources for their “out-of-the-box thinking” in trying to connect with their audiences, whereas the Multiplatform Pacemaker rewards newsrooms for their services found across print, web, and other multimedia publications. The Newspaper/Newsmagazine Pacemaker honors student publications that demonstrate excellence in coverage, writing, editing, design, photography, and campus representation. 

Throughout the past year, the Graphic made a concerted effort to connect with and represent the student body on Pepperdine’s campus through a program called News Talks. News Talks allows Graphic student journalists to forge relationships with the numerous student clubs on campus through a series of regularly scheduled meetings. These meetings help the Graphic staff to build sturdy, trusted relationships with campus leaders, while also finding new and exciting story ideas. This practice in transparency has allowed the Graphic and their journalists to capture the pulse of Seaver College within its numerous publications.

“It is a huge honor to be recognized as one of the top journalism programs in the nation, and it really shows the quality of our journalism program at Pepperdine.” says Abigail Wilt, executive editor of the Graphic. “I am so honored to be a part of this group that serves the Malibu and Pepperdine community every week, whether we get recognized with accolades or not. These awards really highlight all the hard work that goes into Pepperdine Graphic Media, and it is cool to see us recognized on a national level.” 

During the current academic year, the Graphic has staffed nearly 100 students from a variety of academic disciplines who write, photograph, design, advertise, and edit the entirety of the print and digital editions of the newspaper on a daily basis.

“Pepperdine attracts students who really lean into the idea of vocation,” says Smith. “When we get students at the Graphic, they all see their contributions as more than just work. It’s part of their sense of service, their identity, and, to a certain extent, it might be part of their calling. They are always trying to learn skills, build their portfolios, and make connections. By the time they make it to Pepperdine Graphic Media, the students are already of a very high caliber.”

The Graphic began publishing in 1937. Since its founding, the student newspaper has grown to become one of the nation’s leading newsrooms. As a result of awards like the three captured recently, the Graphic is recognized as a top 100 College Newsroom by the Associated Collegiate Press. In 2024, Pepperdine’s student newspaper won a Pacemaker in every category in which it was nominated.

To learn more about the Graphic visit their online edition.