If you follow basketball, you’re probably aware that the Duke Blue Devils and the UNC-Chapel Hill Tar Heels will face off at the Dean Dome this Saturday at 6:00 p.m. But you might not be aware of the rivalry between the two schools’ student newspapers.

The Daily Tar Heel is competing against Duke’s Chronicle to see whose newsroom can raise the most money. The competition began on January 24 and will run until 5:59 p.m. on February 8. 

This is the second time the newsrooms have faced off. Last year, they collectively raised almost $75,000 in ad revenue from the rivalry edition and individual donations. The Daily Tar Heel won. This year, the competition included a pickup basketball game between the two sports desk—the DTH won that one, too.

I should make my biases known: I graduated from UNC’s since-renamed Hussman School of Journalism and Media, wrote briefly for DTH, and still call Chapel Hill home. What’s more, the DTH is aggressively covering a flawed university system (see: any national outlet pulling directly from Charlie McGee’s Silent Sam coverage) in what’s basically a news desert.

But, despite my feelings toward the Blue Devils, The Chronicle is also providing spectacular coverage of a university known for secrecy. Chronicle sports editor Derek Saul says one of his favorite articles from last year called out Duke for selling students’ data to China in 2014 to help the Chinese improve facial recognition software, which aided the government’s surveillance of minorities. Anyone can fill out a FOIA request for information on UNC. That isn’t possible for Duke.

Both the DTH and The Chronicle stopped taking student fees in 1993, something that has allowed the papers to hold their universities accountable. Both have relied on advertising—just like any other newspaper—to keep their businesses afloat. And both have struggled amid the shifting media landscape. 

Student newsrooms are the reason many of us have the courage to take on journalism after graduation—if you can juggle an article a week with a full academic course load, you’ll thrive when doing what you love is the only thing you have to do. Both papers are keeping their university systems in check, and it’s impossible to deny that they are both necessary to the future of our profession. 

You can donate to DTH here, or donate to the Chronicle here. Donations over $25 get you a copy of the rivalry paper.

Contact digital content coordinator Sara Pequeño at spequeno@indyweek.com. 

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