Columbia Scholastic Press Association

CSPA is an international student press association, founded in 1925, whose goal is to unite student journalists and faculty advisers at schools and colleges through educational conferences, idea exchanges, textbooks, critiques and award programs.

CSPA History

This photo is the first official convention photo from 1926. photo/CSPA archives


The Columbia Scholastic Press Association, organized at Columbia in the fall of 1924, grew out of several gatherings of editors and staff members from secondary schools in the metropolitan New York area. As a result of these early meetings, a contest to evaluate student-edited newspapers and magazines was organized in February, 1925. The results of that competition, which saw 179 publications entered, were announced at a convention held at Columbia on March 12-13, 1925, with 308 delegates in attendance. Those delegates voted to ask the University to continue the organization, adopted its official name, and established its journal, The School Press Review. Conventions have continued each year since 1925 at Columbia.

The CSPA was Columbia's third initiative in journalism, following the founding of its School of Journalism in 1912 by bequest of the noted newspaper publisher, Joseph Pulitzer, and the awarding of the first Pulitzer Prizes by Columbia in 1917.

Since 1925 more than 125,000 newspapers, magazines, and yearbooks have entered the annual critiques for evaluations and more than 340,000 delegates have attended the annual conventions, conferences and workshops. In 1935, the Association added yearbooks to its evaluations; in 1940, it began an annual fall conference for yearbook editors and advisers, which was expanded to all types of publications in 1983. An annual summer journalism workshop began in 1982 for high school editors and advisers. More than 3,500 delegates from 20 states and overseas schools have attended these one-week, residential sessions held on the Morningside Heights campus in late June.

A separate annual convention for college editors and advisers was created in 1978, in cosponsorship with College Media Advisers, Inc. and continued as a joint operation through 2001. From 1978 to 2001, more than 6,000 college delegates have attended this spring gathering at a midtown Manhattan hotel.

Services provided by the CSPA include written evaluations of individual student publications (the annual critiques) as well as the planning and conducting of the annual conferences and workshops. In addition, the CSPA publishes an online magazine, Student Press Review, a continuation of its printed journal, The School Press Review, founded in 1925.

The highest awards given to publications by the CSPA each year are its Crown Awards. Further citations include Gold Medalist, Silver Medalist and Bronze Medalist.

The Association also judges more than 10,000 individual entries in its annual Gold Circle Awards for student journalists. More than 600 college students and 600 high school students receive awards in the 204 categories of this competition, which originated in 1984.