University of Southern Maine Student Newspaper Wins Award for Excellence

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The University of Southern Maine’s student publication, The Free Press, has been recognized for excellence with a First Place award from the American Scholastic Press Association for the 2022-23 academic year.

The Free Press was one of only eight schools with enrollments of more than 2,500 to win a First Place award.

The award, Free Press Advisor Lucille Siegler said, recognizes overall excellence, and the judges look at every aspect of a publication during the adjudication process: writing, editing, design and layout, photography, and advertising.

“I’m really proud of them. They did a fantastic job,” Siegler said of the students who comprise the Free Press staff. “The awards are open to any school, and they competed against bigger schools, including schools that have journalism programs, that often have a lot more resources. Getting a first-place award is a tremendous accomplishment.”

A detailed critique of the paper will be forwarded soon, Siegler said, which the student journalists can use to identify areas where the paper can be improved in coming editions.

Because of their efforts, Siegler said, the Free Press is well positioned to continue putting out an excellent paper in the coming year.

“At the beginning of the year, staffing levels were way down,” she said. “A lot of people had graduated so they were understaffed, but they reached out to the community, did a lot of recruiting, and found some very talented people. Now those people are stepping into editorial roles for next year.”

“Getting a first-place award is a tremendous accomplishment.” — Free Press Advisor Lucille Siegler

The Free Press is a monthly publication that is distributed in print form for free across university campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston. It’s also available online at