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In the week leading up to the Michigan-Michigan State football game each year, football writers from the Daily and the student newspaper at Michigan State exchange columns. You can find this year's installment below, starting with the Daily and followed by The State News.
Greg Garno, The Michigan Daily:
Every year, we trade these columns back and forth, and every year, we debate the same talking points.
The Daily will inevitably cover Michigan State’s inferiority complex, how Michigan has the tradition of success on its side and that it’s only a matter of time until it gets back to winning.
Naturally, The State News will claim Michigan is entitled and arrogant, its fanbase consists of “Wal-Mart Wolverines” and for the past six years, the Spartans have been the better team on the field.
But no matter how much we debated, we were only talking in circles.
That is, until you finally provided something original in last year’s column. The one that said, “The faux aura around the U-M football program is as big a sham as a newspaper staffed by kids that don't even major in journalism.”
You were right; Michigan students can’t get a degree in journalism. I major in communication studies and minor in writing. So allow me to change the script. I’m going to do what you think you inherently do better: journalism.
I reached out to students at Michigan State University, people from different years and programs, to ask them about their news reading habits.
But I know not everyone reads the news often (we can agree that’s a shame). Which is why I also posed a hypothetical: if they were to read one news outlet on campus, which would they choose, Paper A or Paper B?
Imagine both papers are on the same campus covering the same events, but staffed and run differently.
Paper A is a large paper with an active staff of more than 100 students and provides coverage on news, sports, arts and campus life.
The Society of Professional Journalists nominated Paper A for two reporting awards in its region just last year. It placed second in best all-around newspaper category.
Paper A is sourced by larger, non-campus papers in the local area when it shares news. It has a credible reputation among other news organizations.
Paper A’s sports section, in particular, provides coverage from both home and away football games with stories on volleyball and soccer amongst others, but nothing as extensive as the bigger sports.
Within the past three years, Paper A has produced reporters who write at small, to mid-level newspapers.
And lastly, Paper A staffs writers from a journalism program.
Meanwhile, Paper B also has an active staff that covers the same topics, but does so with a bigger staff that produces a wider range of content in any given week.
Paper B was nominated for six reporting awards by the SPJ in its region and took first place in two of them (including sports writing). Paper B was declared not only the best paper in the region, but also a finalist in the entire nation.
National outlets such as The New York Times, ESPN and CBS Sports have sourced or cited Paper B in its reporting of events. So have local outlets. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart did a five-minute segment featuring Paper B.
Paper B’s sports staff covers every athletic team on campus in some capacity, but provided more stories per team, even the smaller ones.
Alumni from Paper B, in the last three years alone, have gone to work full-time at The New York Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, Los Angeles Times and The Tennessean.
Paper B’s staff doesn’t learn at a journalism program.
Yet Michigan State students, after I went through the list one-by-one, picked Paper B. In this case, of course, Paper A is The State News and Paper B is The Michigan Daily. The superiority of one over the other is so obvious. But don’t let me do that talking.
There’s Marshall W, a senior, who said, “If I wasn’t affiliated with Michigan State, and I was presented with both facts, I would stick by my answer.”
And Sara S, a junior, said, “Based off those conditions, I would say B.”
Stephen P, also a senior, said, “I think each paper has its own reputation, and I think that carries more weight than anything else.”
I used a small sample size — only six people — but not a single one picked The State News. And it shouldn’t take more than them to tell you: If they didn’t go to Michigan State, students would prefer the work done by a paper like The Michigan Daily.
I won’t pretend the Michigan football team will win on Saturday. It’s a team with an offense that can’t stay on the field and a defense that can’t record turnovers. I won’t try to stick up for a coach and athletic director who risked a player’s safety by putting him back out with a concussion.
But I do know that the school without a journalism program kicked your ass in the very subject within the last year alone.
And after we beat you in football on Friday, for the 10th year in a row, we’ll return to the newsroom and continue to do our job better than you.
Just as we always have. And that’s not up for debate.
Garno is the Co-Managing Sports Editor and a football beat writer at The Michigan Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter: @G_Garno.
Geoff Preston, The State News:
I feel bad for my past State News colleagues. The yearly rivalry columns used to be harder to write I’m sure.
But we don’t live in that world anymore. Writing this is as easy as grabbing a maize and blue shirt off the clearance rack at Walmart.
The dominance that MSU has exerted in my time on campus over the little sister down the road is almost hard to watch. And I always thought it was the Wolverines who were supposed to feel sorry for us Spartans.
We’re here for you, Ann Arbor. Seriously, we’re here for you.
The phrase “Not our real rival” is thrown around with an ease among Wolverines, an ease that reflects the delusional nature that those people live with every day. Ohio State is going to beat you too, I know, but we’re not our rival? Come on.
But hey, I’m not here to fight. Let’s entertain your notion of this not really being much a rivalry.
MSU has won five of the past six years in football and beat U-M for the Big Ten title in basketball. Outside of sports, our parties are louder, our women are prettier and The State News actually gets nominated for national awards and not just regional ones.
You know, come to think of it, “not our rival” might be the most inarticulate rubbish to spew from the arrogant, entitled country-club Michigan fan’s mouth since the 1999 Rose Bowl.
So what does the poor Michigan fan do? Well, if you work at The Michigan Daily, you’ll probably resort back to attacking the quality of our student publications, because there’s really no ammunition left. But we can look at that too, and this’ll be fun for the Michigan fan because we know you guys love to talk about the past.
The State News has won 14 Pacemaker awards for the print publication, the highest prize in college journalism. The Michigan Daily has not. Not even close.
The Michigan fan will probably talk about their winning streak against The State News in the two-hand shove football game we hold once a uear. When we take that from you, the way that MSU has taken everything from U-M in this rivalry, you will literally have nothing left.
MSU will win on Saturday. Period. To pile anything else on your pathetic, kale-eating, Prius-driving town would be like putting a kid in a football game when he had a concussion.
Oh, still too soon?
You can call us “little brother” all you want, but after The State News beats the Michigan Daily this weekend, I suspect you’ll have run out of things to say.
And that dueling column next year? It’ll be even easier for the guy who comes after me.
Preston is a State News football reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: This column is subject to the editing team and style guide of The State News. The Daily has published it as presented.