By: Barbara Gutierrez

The student media outlets were recognized nationally by the Associated Collegiate Press and College Media Association.

Distraction Magazine and the Ibis Yearbook walked off with top honors from the College Media Association and Associated Collegiate Press (ACP): Magazine of the Year and three Pacemakers. All of these honors are considered a top recognition for the college press groups.

Distraction Magazine, for the 2019-2020 academic year, was named the college Four-Year Feature Magazine of the Year by the College Media Association. This is the first time the magazine has received the pinnacle win in that category; although, it has placed second and third in the past.

The 2019 Ibis Yearbook placed third in the Yearbook of the Year category, after winning it twice in the past four years.

Distraction magazine is well-known for its colorful covers and representing the student body perspective throughout the pages of its publication.

The magazine has tackled issues like addiction, the meaning of power, and gender identity. In this past year, it has focused on campus life. One story, “Hidden Heroes,” featured everyday people who are present on campus including a custodial worker, who made the cover of the magazine.

“I am so proud of all these prizes for both Distraction and the Ibis Yearbook,” said Randy Stano, professor of professional practice in the School of Communication and editorial advisor to both. “This is the culmination of many, many hours of hard work and determination on behalf of all these very talented students.”

Distraction was one of nine, four-year college-university feature magazines to receive the Pacemaker honors for a printed magazine and one of three online websites honored by ACP. Distraction’s editor in chief was Isabella Vaccaro, currently a senior in the School of Communication.

“I feel very proud of this prize,” said Vaccaro. “My team put in a lot of hard work last year and had many sleepless nights working on those issues. We were really up against some really good competition. It’s just very humbling to be awarded this among this talented pool.”

Pacemakers are considered the Pulitzer Prize in the collegiate journalism world. “The Pacemaker is a coveted award for collegiate publications. It is super that the Distraction staff received national recognition for the printed issues and the online operations of the student feature magazine,” said Stano.

The magazine’s website for the last academic year, led by Emmalyse Brownstein,, was one of four college feature magazines, along with 20 student news organizations, named as Pacemaker winners.

“When the pandemic put UM students at home last March, it was pretty daunting for me as the digital editor,” said Brownstein, now the magazine’s executive editor. “I knew my role would be doubly important for Distraction because we couldn’t physically print an issue. So, I’m absolutely ecstatic that our team has been recognized for our hard work.”

The 2019 Ibis was one of four college yearbook Pacemaker winners. Morgan Thomson edited the award-winning edition of the Ibis. “Morgan and her staff produced an outstanding book,” said Stano.

Distraction was also a big winner in the Best of Show competition for the schools participating in the virtual conference. It was named Best Feature Magazine, Best Print Design, Best Blog, and Best Print Design Advertisement. “I do not think we have ever won four Best of Shows for any of the publications at an ACP event before,” said Stano.

Additional Best of Show placings for Distraction included third in print advertisements, fifth in websites for more than 10,000, ninth in print design, and 10th in election reporting. The Ibis finished fourth in print design and fifth in print advertisement design in Best of Show categories. Best of Show and current Distraction editor in chief is Olivia Ginsberg, a senior in the School of Communication.

The 28 magazines named as finalists represent 16 states. Three judges, with extensive magazine-editing experience, studied each entry, discussing and analyzing strengths and weaknesses.

Gary Lundgren, ACP associate director and coordinator of the Pacemaker competition, noted that the quality of the winning collegiate magazines rivals those produced by professionals.

“The verbal and visual storytelling in the winning magazines is incredible and robust long-form stories combined with shorter quick-reads to pace the reader through the pages of the feature magazines,” Lundgren said. “And the creativity displayed in the literary arts magazines is incredible—the unique formats and creative designs make the magazines themselves a work of art.”

The 55 online finalists represented 23 states. California set the pace with 12 finalists followed by Illinois with eight and Texas with five. Of the 55 finalists, 24 received Pacemaker honors.

To select the finalists, respected professionals including professors and current digital media professionals analyzed, discussed, and rated each entry.

“Today’s best online sites are platforms for rich multimedia storytelling,” said Lundgren. “Deep and diverse coverage with strong engagement and interactivity distinguish the best student-produced sites.”

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