The biggest rivalry in college basketball has spawned a healthy competition — and collaboration — among two college newspapers.
The Daily Tar Heel at UNC-Chapel Hill and The Chronicle at Duke are teaming up to produce a joint edition on Feb. 20, the day the two men’s basketball teams battle it out in their first meeting this season at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium.
At the same time the two staffs are working to produce one paper, they’re urging their fans to contribute to an online fundraising campaign for the student publications. The money race has been close, with the DTH ahead slightly by Friday afternoon, with $10,193. The Chronicle had raised $9,245.
Those who contribute at least $25 will get a reserved rivalry edition. The special paper will be the DTH on one half of the section, and the Chronicle on the other half folded in opposite directions depending on the campus.
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The staffs are pouring their energy into producing more content related to the big basketball matchup, including stories about the teams, game previews, the history of the rivalry and no doubt some sick burns.
In a challenging economic environment for college media, the blue-on-blue contest just makes sense, said Chrissy Beck, general manager at The Chronicle.
“People have been spending weeks and weeks now talking about this game, so I think we’ll have a pretty primed audience by the time we get to Wednesday,” Beck said.
She said the money totals have been surprising so far. “This is the best fundraising thing we’ve ever done,” she said. “Everybody loves it.”
Erica Perel, general manager of the Daily Tar Heel, said it’s valuable for budding journalists to embrace new opportunities and think in a more entrepreneurial way.
“I really think it’s important for us to not be diminished because our revenue is down or because we’re not printing 20,000 copies five days a week like we were 10 years ago,” she said, “but instead to think about, ‘What can we do that is pretty special and what can we do that’s going to make our audience excited?’”
She said the two staffs went into the process thinking it was an experiment and they had no idea what to expect. “We don’t know what we’ll get out of it,” she said, “but we do know that people sure care about this rivalry.”
The Daily Tar Heel prints three days a week, and The Chronicle prints twice a week. They are both tabloid size newspapers.
Starting Monday, the two staffs blast social media, promoting their own work plus the stories of their rivals down the road.
Perel said her target is simple: “My goal is $1 more than them.”