The Associated Collegiate Press has named the Collegiate Times and two of its staffers as finalists for three of its top honors.

The independent, student-run newspaper is a finalist for the Online Pacemaker award; Editor-In-Chief Zach Crizer of Midlothian, Va., a senior majoring in communications in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, is a finalist for Feature Story of the Year; and Managing Editor Lindsey Brookbank of Ashburn, Va., a senior double majoring in English and communications in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, is a finalist for Reporter of the Year.

The Online Pacemaker award is the highest honor for online college journalism, one for which the Collegiate Times has been nominated before, and which it won in 2008. The newspaper’s website was custom built by its online director, Jamie Chung of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., a junior majoring in computer science in the College of Engineering. Reporter of the Year is the highest individual honor in all areas of college journalism, one which former Collegiate Times reporter and 2011 Virginia Tech graduate Caleb Fleming won in 2009.

Crizer, who served as the paper’s managing editor during the 2010-11 school year, said the nominations are exciting on a personal level, but they are also a validation of what the Collegiate Times’ staff is learning about journalism in the real world.

“It’s great to be nominated individually, but the Online Pacemaker award is for the whole paper. There’s really no difference between what we do and what a professional newspaper does every day, but we do it all with college students,” he said. “We learn how to deal with everything you deal with in your career while working for a college paper. We do spend a great deal of energy trying to keep the paper as good as it is, as good as it has been.”

Crizer is nominated for his story, “Ex-felon moves forward,” which follows Lars Peterson’s journey from convicted felon to Virginia Tech graduate with a degree in electrical engineering.

Brookbank, who was the paper’s features editor last year, is nominated on the basis of three stories: “Forever in their minds: Kevin Lawall’s parent, siblings seek meaning in his suicide;” “Missing peace: Morgan Harrington’s parents need answers;” and “Chain Reaction: Actively Caring seeks widespread impact.”

Both students are actively pursuing careers in professional journalism, with Crizer recently completing a summer internship at the city desk of the New York Post and Brookbank having served as an intern for the past two summers at the Leesburg Today, a weekly publication in Leesburg, Va.

They say their experience at the Collegiate Times has prepared them for their internships and the professional side of journalism, but there is a civic side to it, as well, one that gives them both a chance to leave their mark at Virginia Tech.

“Just seeing that final product every day and knowing that I had something to do with it, hearing people talk about a story — I was a piece of that,” Brookbank said. “I feel like I’m making a difference on campus.”

The winners will be announced at the National College Media Convention Oct. 26-30 in Orlando.



Written by Jennifer Gibson.

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