The Pine Needle is the best student newspaper in the U.S.
The American Scholastic Press Association has awarded The Pine Needle first place in their annual newspaper competition that includes 2,000 entries nationwide.
The judges gave The Pine Needle 925 points out of a possible 1,000.
The ASPA gave an additional award to the newspaper, best sports section – referred to as Outstanding Sports Section – making the paper a double award-winner for 2009.
"You have an excellent school newspaper, which shows the talent of your editors, reporters, writers, photographers, layout designers and advisor," the judges wrote. "Congratulations to all on your First place award. Also, congratulations for Best Sport Section."
ASPA provided the judge's breakdown of the points. Page design received 175 out of 175 points. Editing received 125 out of 125 points. The Pine Needle's point scores were similarly extraordinary in all other categories as well.
In the category of Content, the paper received all the possible points in the following criteria: are articles likely to further student interest in the school; does the publication show evidence of a main philosophy in its format; is it evident that the staff has been conscientious in attempting to present original material; are many areas of the school covered; is the content of general interest to many students and school community members; are there continuous features or service sections that appear from issue to issue.
In the category of General Plan, the paper received all the possible points in the following criteria: is the design, layout, and general plan consistent from issue to issue; is there an obvious and usable table of contents; are sections varied with consistent and easy to find areas from issue to issue; does the folio line contain publication name, date, and page number; is copy included wherever necessary so that the reader is not left wondering about the photographic content.
In the category of art, advertising, illustration, the paper received all the possible points in the following criteria: does the publication have artwork that adds to and directly affects the story and is the artwork original; does the placing of the photos cause pleasant eye scanning across the pages; do cutlines or captions fully explain the contents.
The paper received all possible points in all criteria for editing: is the style and general visual pattern harmonious; is correct journalistic grammar used; are typographical errors avoided; is credit given through bylines; is care taken to display good layout practices.
The paper received all possible points in all criteria for page design: are continuations treated in a proper fashion, do facing pages present an even balance and design; does the publication avoid wasted spaced and clutter; are there adequate relationships among all parts of the page; are headlines fully associated with the story line; is effective use made of varied typestyles; is effective use made of diagrams, photographs, tables.
The judges offered some suggestions in the areas of reproduction of photographs and advertisements. They said they look forward to seeing next year's issues.
The Pine Needle was competing with colleges and universities with enrollments of 2501 and up.