Knight Errant wins Online Pacemaker award

Rachel Kaplan

In time with the one year anniversary of Benilde-St. Margaret’s Knight Errant website, this past weekend the school’s online newspaper received a prestigious award from the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) during a national journalism conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

A nonprofit membership organization for high school publications, the NSPA has offered resources to help newspapers, magazines, broadcast programs, and online publications to improve since 1921. This includes a publication critique service and national high school journalism conventions––where the Knight Errant won its Online Pacemaker Award.

The Online Pacemaker was awarded to the top seven high school newspaper Web sites in the nation based on site content and quality, design, ease of navigation, interactivity, and quality of writing. The judges especially complimented the KnightErrant’s “clean and simple modularity of the site,” making special note of different features such as the print edition cover, sports calendar, polls, blog, and crossword.
“Online Pacemakers don’t just throw all printed stories online; they provide another dimension to the content that readers cannot access in the print product alone,” said Katie Huting from NSPA.

Entries for the award have also increased 50 percent since 2008, increasing the significance of the award, said Huting. “It’s a really cool recognition that we just started the website a year ago and we’re already in the top seven of the nation,” said Editor-in-Chief Amelia Raether.

To continue the success of its online version, the Knight Errant is adding multiple new editor positions next year to help maintain the Web site: specific online section editors for Sports, Twin Cities Scene, Arts and Entertainment, Photography, as well as an Online Editor-in-Chief.

“I’m thrilled and proud of the students. They’re really the heart and soul of the paper,” said Dr. Sue Skinner, who also credits the “fantastic and critical job” of adviser Mr. Jason Wallestad. Mr. Wallestad has driven the Web site process from day one, constantly helping the students learn how to write code and update the Web site to continually improve it.

“It’s really a testament to the drive of Mr. Wallestad. He gives us a head start on the future of journalism. Most high schools have Web sites now, but they’re not at the level of [the Knight Errant],” said Raether.