The storied Tobacco Road rivalry extends far beyond the walls of the Dean Dome or Cameron Indoor. Student journalists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s The Daily Tar Heel and at Duke University’s The Chronicle have always covered the leadup to the big game, but last year they started combining forces to create the “Rivalry Edition.”
It’s a joint special-edition paper produced by both news teams. They share a center spread and fill the pages with stats, stories and analysis before the first meetup of the season between the men’s and women’s teams. A fundraising component plays into the rivalry as well, with both newsrooms publicly tracking how much money they raise. The papers’ general managers Chrissy Beck (The Chronicle) and Erica Perel (The Daily Tar Heel) came up with the idea to raise more money for their operating budgets. Both newspapers are independent of their respective universities, and Beck says The Chronicle makes less than half of what it did 11 years ago in ad revenue.
Host Frank Stasio talks with Beck and Perel about the importance of college news publications and their role in a local news landscape. Derek Saul, sports editor for The Chronicle, also joins the conversation to preview the matchups. He says for the men's game, he's looking forward to the face-off between Duke's Tre Jones and UNC's Cole Anthony, whom he says could be considered two of the best point guards in the country. The women play Thursday, Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium and the men play Saturday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. UNC’s Dean E. Smith Center.
Saul on the joy of covering the Duke/UNC basketball rivalry:
I've been lucky enough to cover all sorts of really amazing things involving Duke basketball. But the number one thing I'm looking forward to is getting to cover the Duke versus UNC home game at Cameron [in March]. There's obviously [the game] at the Dean Dome on Saturday … [but] at Duke, you see, there are hundreds of people sleeping outside for it. I mean, sleeping outside for [this year’s] game that Duke’s probably going to be favored by 15-plus points.
Saul previewing the women’s game on Thursday, Feb. 6 from Duke’s perspective:
It's been a pretty frustrating season for Blue Devil fans. You have a lot of talent on the Duke side, especially some really talented seniors, like Leaonna Odom and Haley Gorecki, and they've come up short. A lot. And especially in the last few weeks … NC State came to Cameron. NC State was ranked seventh at the time, and Duke was leading the whole time. They're up 42-30 at one point … And they ended up losing. And now Duke is kind of fighting tooth and nail to get into the NCAA tournament, and this would be the second straight year the miss the NCAA Tournament.
Beck on why independence from the universities better serves The Daily Tar Heel and The Chronicle:
Both organizations are separate nonprofits from their university. And we're happy to be set up that way. It helps us cover not only our community but the campus so much better that way. It's more analogous to what our students are going to go out and do, hopefully, in the real world.
Perel on why it’s important to donate to student journalism organizations:
We ask people to donate because they hate Duke. We ask people to donate because they get important, essential news from The Daily Tar Heel, and we ask people to donate because they understand that we're building the future of news … And we have to be able to figure that out if we want our democracy to thrive in the way I think we all want it to. It's really not even just about: Can we cover the game? And can we travel [to cover events/games]? It's really about how do we transform into a new news organization that is going to be a model for the whole country?