Arrow Competing as Finalist for National College Media Association Pinnacle Awards


The Arrow, the student newspaper at Southeast Missouri State University, has been named a finalist in two categories for College Media Association Pinnacle Awards to be presented in October.

The Arrow is among three national finalists for a Writing Pinnacle in the “Best Special Section: More than Four Pages” category for a special report titled “The Impact Zone.” The Arrow also is among four finalists for a Best of Collegiate Design Pinnacle in the “Best Feature Page/Spread” category for a Black History Month centerspread. The winners will be announced at the Associated College Press/College Media Association Fall National College Media Convention Oct. 25-28 in Louisville, Ky.

The Pinnacle Awards are presented by the College Media Association and recognize the top media programs and students in the United States. Pinnacle Awards are presented for individual work in advertising, broadcast, design, online, photography, sports and writing, and to organizations recognizing them as best newspaper, station, magazine, website or yearbook for 2017-2018.

“The fact that our work is being recognized on a national level alongside schools with much larger staff speaks to the dedication of ours,” said Matt Dollard, Arrow editor. “The entire Arrow staff puts a lot of time and effort into this organization and being up for big awards against big schools is one of the many reasons it all feels worthwhile.”

The Arrow’s special report titled “The Impact Zone” detailed the impact of the opioid epidemic facing Missouri and southeast Missouri in particular. The Arrow is a writing finalist in this category along with UCLA’s Daily Bruin and Elon University’s Elon News Network. “The Impact Zone” is available in its entirety at

“We decided to explore opioids as a topic because it’s an issue that has affected so many,” Dollard said. “The ‘epidemic’ had been covered heavily on a national level, and it was clear that Missouri was among the states at the forefront in terms of trafficking and overdose and also in efforts to combat the crisis and resources for recovery. When Kara Hartnett (former Arrow editor), Rachael Long (former Arrow digital managing editor) and I began researching the impact of opioids in the Southeast region and even on our campus, we felt obligated to tell that story. We heard consistently from state officials in law enforcement, politics and the medical field that our region was at a tipping point of crisis.

“What began as an investigative series morphed into an informative one from multiple angles: prevention and combative measures, recovery and treatment, and the stories of community members directly affected,” he said.

The Arrow’s Black History Month centerspread was written by Long and designed by alumna Taria Graham. It is available at Other finalists in this category are Elon University, California State University-Long Beach and the University of Michigan.

“To be in the company of the University of Michigan and Elon is quite impressive,” said Rhonda Weller-Stilson, dean of the Earl and Margie Holland College of Arts and Media.

In reflecting on the Black History Month spread, Long said, “We wanted to incorporate the idea that today’s movers and shakers stand on the backs of so many important figures in the black community but still highlight the work they are doing to create change. For me, the story was a chance to show readers that they don’t have to make it into history books to make a difference in their community.”

She also was quick to credit Graham for her outstanding design work on the piece.

“For the spread to be nominated for a Pinnacle is, of course, a huge honor, but I think it reflects more on the mass media program and the wisdom of our faculty,” she said. “This isn’t our first Pinnacle nomination, and thanks to our professors, it certainly won’t be the last. We’ve got steep competition, but even a nomination is a wonderful recognition of the work Taria and I put in.”

Hartnett, who graduated from Southeast in May, said the growing number of awards the Arrow has received and competed for in recent years affirms the caliber of the multimedia journalism program at Southeast.

“It proves that the resources the University has put into our program and the Rust Center for Media are paying off, and also that the faculty is not only doing their part in enriching our minds with journalistic principles, but also passing on their own passion,” she said.