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UNCP student newspaper wins 6th consecutive national award

May 21, 2014

The American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA) has awarded first place for overall quality to The Pine Needle for the sixth year in a row.In a separate award, the ASPA honored UNCP’s student newspaper for Outstanding Sports Coverage.

The paper has won 22 state and national awards during the last six years for writing, design and overall quality. The ASPA competition attracts approximately 2,500 university newspapers.

“Please join me in congratulating the 37 students, who have worked hard on the paper this year,” said Dr. Tony Curtis, Pine Needle faculty advisor. “Led by editor-in-chief Ashley Cole, they had a great year and deserve this high honor.”

Pine Needle award

Pine Needle Editors - Jonathan Bym, Ashley Cole and Cody Parker


The newspaper published a record 336 pages this year despite missing one edition because of snow. The student newspaper publishes 14 times a year during the fall and spring semesters and has a year-round website featuring videos and podcasts in English and Spanish.

On April 30 with the final edition of the 2013-14 year put to bed, the students talked about the year and looked to the future.

“Winning this award is a good feeling. We put in a lot of hours,” said outgoing editor Ashley Cole. “It’s really nice.”

The Pine Needle team finished the year strong with their largest edition of 36 pages and a 12-page salute to graduating seniors. The newspaper had three sections and featured illustrations. Managing editor Jonathan Bym, design editor Sara Owen and sports editor Cody Parker talked about the newspaper.

Cole will graduate in May and move on to graduate school in professional counseling. She started working for the Pine Needle in the second semester of her freshman year. Bym, who has newspaper ink in his blood already, will continue his transition from sports reporting where he started to become the paper’s editor.

“I’ll still write some sports; I’d like to continue covering football because I’ve had a good relationship with our new coach Shane Richardson,” Bym said. “I want to expand my skills.”

With a national award already on his resume, Bym has interned with his hometown newspaper in Asheboro, N.C., and continues to “string” for them. He also attended a national newspaper conference this year.

Dr. Judy Curtis, who with husband, Tony, has taught journalism and guided The Pine Needle for 12 years, says the newspaper is a learning experience.

“Students have a hands-on opportunity to practice all the skills needed by today’s news media professionals,” said Curtis. “The Pine Needle is a learning laboratory that prepares students to perform immediately at a high professional level once they graduate.

“The students decide on the content, write and edit all the stories, take the photos, write the headlines and design the pages,” she continued. “They also sell and design the advertising and handle circulation.”

With a long list of graduates now working in media jobs across the nation, The Pine Needle is an institution that continues to engage UNCP students in learning. For more information about the student newspaper, contact the office at (910) 521-6204 or email pineneedle@uncp.edu.