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Swinging Bridge Newspaper Captures National Honors, Revamps Format

At its annual conference in New York, the College Media Association, a national organization that serves as a resource and advocate for student media staff, recently honored The Pulse's student-run newspaper, the Swinging Bridge. A judging panel of journalism and communication professors awarded the publication second place nationally for best newspaper of a four-year college with fewer than 5,000 students. The Swinging Bridge’s last award came in 1996, when it earned First Place from the American Scholastic Association.

"I'm just ecstatic about the award!" said Joel Hoover, senior and the current Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper. "We set very different kind of goals at the beginning of and midway through the year for the newspaper. We still have work to do, but being rewarded for what we did this past year was a great blessing."

Four Pulse managers and future managers, Lauren Piccioni, Ally Coonradt, Megan Dobson, and Maddie Crocenzi, attended the conference hosted by the CMA. The organization welcomes any and all student media. The Pulse staff has attended the conference annually since 2011.

Lauren Piccioni, senior and director of the Pulse, explained how the Swinging Bridge achieved success. "In the fall, we made a lot of changes about the focus of the newspaper. We made it more of a business and student-focused." Piccioni also noted other student media and professionals critiqued the newspaper at the conference, offering further recommendations for improvement. She even hinted the Pulse might develop an app next year to help students access news more easily.

This award comes at a transitional point for the Pulse and its newspaper.

The Pulse recently announced the Swinging Bridge's restructuring from newspaper to magazine, with the first edition coming out this spring. After much deliberation and evaluation, Pulse staff members determined a new format would allow the publication to better keep up with current trends. The overall function of the Swinging Bridge will not change, just its form. The magazine will print slightly less frequently than the newspaper, giving students more time to work on each edition. Copies will still be available in both print and online format.

The transition into magazine format occurred April 16, and the first edition of the Swinging Bridge magazine will come out April 30. The Pulse hopes the new format will represent changing trends in journalism, as well as a better platform for content. The change also allows more collaboration between Pulse departments. For example, the magazine format will allow for increased design and photography work.

Hoover, who directed the Swinging Bridge newspaper for the past year, has seen a lot of positive growth. "I think on the whole, the paper has jumped in a great way, which I was very glad to see and very thankful for,” he said. “We also built and established a process. Once we did that, it made things a whole lot better."

Hoover also believes the magazine transition will help the Pulse stay current. "We're in a place where the Swinging Bridge is the most relevant and most serving it's been in a long time. We now have news as it's happening being put online, as well as a tangible product. The newspaper in general has a lot of good feedback. People say it's the best they've seen in years."

Maddie Crocenzi, who will head the Swinging Bridge next year as Editor-in-Chief, is excited about the position. "It's been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I've always wanted to be a journalist. To have that kind of opportunity as a sophomore is amazing!" Crocenzi also feels positive about the new magazine format. "I really hope to move more toward online content because I think that's the way all news is moving. I want it to be where everyone wants to read it. I want videos and pictures so every different person can get news in the way they want it."

The Pulse's website, pulse.messiah.edu, will continue to publish breaking news as it happens on campus. Aspiring student journalists will continue to gain important journalistic experience and hone skills in the converged environment.

-Erin Zakin ('17)