Adding to a decades-old legacy of excellence, Chico State’s student news organization The Orion was recognized as one of the top 100 student publications in the nation by Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) during an October 29, 2022, event at The Washington Post. ACP awards are among the top prizes in college journalism and—in celebration of its 100th birthday—ACP gave Pacemaker 100 awards to the publications that have received the most honors during the past century.   

The Orion, which has a storied history of award-winning journalism, was one of only two publications in the CSU system to receive a Pacemaker 100. Current editor Noah Herbst, managing editor Melvin Bui and faculty advisor Forrest Hartman accepted the awards during a ceremony at the MediaFest ’22 conference in Washington, DC. 

“Accepting the Pacemaker 100 on behalf of The Orion was a great honor for me,” said Herbst. “Being recognized for such a prestigious award shows just how high of a standard The Orion has held its reporters to over the years. Every journalist, editor and member—whether former or current—should take pride in knowing they’ve played a part in creating this legacy.”

Former Orion adviser Mark Plenke was also honored, receiving an ACP Pioneer Award. The inaugural Pioneer Awards are given to top journalism advocates and educators throughout the country. Plenke guided Orion students from 2012 to 2018 and also worked as a media adviser for two schools in Minnesota: Normandale Community College and Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

“This award from the Associated Collegiate Press belongs to the hundreds of students who have worked at The Orion since the mid-1970s, when it was founded,” Plenke said. “It’s their professionalism and commitment to covering the campus that made the paper one of the best in the country. I’m just so proud of them and their accomplishments.”

Hartman, the current Orion adviser, said Plenke deserves to be proud both of his individual accomplishment and the role he played in The Orion’s receipt of a Pacemaker 100. 

“Mark was not only a wonderful teacher and adviser during his tenure at Chico State, he has continued to be a resource to the University,” Hartman said. “When I became adviser in fall 2022, Mark was one of the first people to offer advice. Students make all editorial decisions for The Orion, but there is a steep learning curve for advisers, and Mark’s insight has helped immensely.”   

Hartman said he is proud to be part of The Orion legacy but mostly excited that so many Chico State journalism students—past and present —were recognized for their hard work. 

The Orion won the majority of its Pacemakers when retired faculty member David Waddell was adviser from 1996 to 2012, and he said the publication has been a standout in the world of college media for so long that he wasn’t surprised to learn of its Pacemaker 100.

“It feels great,” Waddell said. “There were so many great staffs we’ve had over the years. It’s obviously the best job that I ever had.” 

Angela Trethewey, dean of the College of Communication and Education, which houses The Orion, said she is also proud of the publication’s legacy. 

“This award is a testament to the students and faculty advisers who have committed themselves to telling the stories that matter to our communities in responsible, ethical ways over The Orion’s entire history,” she said. “I am particularly proud of The Orion as a hands-on, meaningful, and impactful learning lab for our students.  Whether they pursue careers as journalists, advocates or professionals across a variety of industries, the knowledge and skills they learn will serve them well across their entire careers.”

The Orion is an independent and student-run news source at Chico State covering University news, sports, opinions, and entertainment. Since its inception in 1975, it has provided a training ground for students interested in journalism, photography, advertising, marketing, production, graphic design, and videography. In March 2020, The Orion ended its print run and became a digital-only media outlet.

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About Chico State

At Chico State, we empower students to Do and Dare in their careers and lives. Founded in 1887, Chico State is the second-oldest institution in the 23-campus CSU, the nation’s largest public university system. Chico State enrolls approximately 14,000 students and serves as the comprehensive university of the North State, the 12-county region where the campus is located. A 20-time US News & World Report “Top Public School in the West,” Chico State prides itself on its high-quality, high-value education, an active and engaged student body, and strong connection with the local community and state of California. Recognized for its focus on sustainability and community involvement, students expand their possibilities through more than 380 academic offerings and co-curricular programs, and work closely with expert faculty to devise solutions for the unprecedented global challenges of the 21st century.