And Now for Some Rankings!

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Like any good college student, Paper Trail is spending this holiday season paying respect to its roots. Yup, we're gonna start ranking! But this is not your parents' Best Colleges Guide. This is the Guide to the Best College Newspapers of 2006, and, unlike that other guide, we do not actually rank, and we do give points for style—and for how funny your university president looks on camera. The first annual awards will fall into five categories, listed below. Send nominations for each to papertrail@usnews.com. And keep checking the site! We'll announce finalists before the end of the year. In the new year, we'll announce the winners.

  • Story of the Year: Doesn't have to be a single story; in fact, probably better if the story inspired continuing coverage. For instance, "I went to class Monday" is not as good as "I went to class Monday"; "I went to class Tuesday"; "I went to class Wednesday"; etc.
  • Newsmaker of the Year: Anyone covered in the collegiate press is eligible: students, administrators, adjunct professors, visiting evangelical preachers …
  • Best Photo: Should have been taken by some kind of "student journalist," but we can interpret that loosely. Appearances by university or college presidents are a plus.
  • Best Columnist: Anybody who writes a column for a student-run media outlet is eligible. Better if you're writing about campus-related stuff. So: In-depth analysis of Middle East politics won't win, but in-depth analysis of Middle East departments could. Sex columnists also welcome.
  • Best Alternative Media Outlet: This could be a newspaper that rivals the main newspaper, a blog on the main newspaper's website, a blog not on the main newspaper's website, or anything else that covers college news but isn't the college newspaper of record.