Texas, Oklahoma student newspapers collab for epic dual issue

TEXAS — Hitting newsstands down south on Thursday is a 48-page, double-cover collaborative issue of The Daily Texan and The OU Daily, celebrating the 115th Red River Showdown.

On the gridiron, Texas and Oklahoma are the opposite of friendly. But the school’s student newspapers worked tirelessly together to create the commemorative issue in time for the Oct. 12 football game.

The idea originated in early spring, when The OU Daily’s sports editor George Stoia and The Daily Texan’s associate managing editor Alex Briseno spoke about wanting to do something special for their last fall covering the storied rivalry. The two had known each other from covering previous games.

“Obviously, I was on board,” Briseno said about when Stoia raised the idea. “If we didn’t do it now, it wasn’t going to happen.” 

The 48-page collaboration between The OU Daily and The Daily Texan

They drew inspiration from the University of North Carolina’s The Daily Tar Heel and Duke University’s The Chronicle, who worked together on a joint “Rivalry edition” newspaper for the Feb. 20 UNC-Duke basketball game, Stoia said.

The Daily Texan and The Oklahoma Daily spent summer and early fall working out logistics and have spent the last few weeks pumping out the content for it. 

Finding advertisers was a first step, but Stoia said they were able to sell plenty. 

“People wanted to be part of this paper,” he said.

The newspapers decided to have the issue printed by The OU Daily’s regular printer, the Norman Transcript. The Daily Texan had to submit their side by 11 a.m. the day of the deadline, and Oklahoma had to get it to the Transcript by noon.

 21,500 copies of this issue were printed. The Daily Texan’s usual print circulation is 12,000 and The OU Daily’s is 6,500.

Bresino and Stoia both credited their design staff for organizing the 24 pages (each) of content by deadline. Both paper’s typical issues are around 8 to 12 pages.

The Transcript’s foreman John Orth, who’s been at the paper since 1969, came in on his day off to oversee printing.

The issue is filled with everything Texas, Oklahoma and the Red River Showdown. The two continued the near 50-year tradition of running a “diss column,” where Texas would trash talk Oklahoma in their own paper, and vice versa. Each school also listed their top five wins in the rivalry game.

A reversible “Hook ’em Horns” and “Boomer Sooner” poster joins the two papers in the middle of the issue.

Stoia said the two papers pulling off an issue like this “speaks volumes about where student journalism is today.” 

While there is a constant negativity around the future of journalism, Stoia said, seeing the work fellow student journalists are doing today makes him hopeful.

“There’s people doing some amazing things, and I think this is just a testament to the skill and the talent and the ambition of a lot of young people that want to create something that makes an impact,” Stoia said. “Papers like this are a reason for optimism in journalism today.”

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for sports and print journalism. Sports Illustrated, once a pinnacle of sports journalism, laid off 35 to 40 percent of its editorial staff.

Bresino, who recently interned at Sports Illustrated, said he had quite a few friends lose their jobs. So seeing this much excitement around print journalism and student sports media was a much-needed pick me up.

“There will always be a want for something like this,” he said. “[Newspapers] look good in PDF’s online, but it’s not something that people are going to be able to hold on to forever.”

The staff of The Daily Texan. Photo by Peter Chen.

The deadline for the issue was a week before the game, so the Transcript could print and ship the issues by gametime. After turning in their 24 pages Sunday morning, Bresino said the staff napped for about two hours and then returned to the newsroom to begin Monday’s regular issue.

Issues were shipped to the Texas State Fair in Dallas and both campuses, Stoia said.

Nick Hazelrigg, The OU Daily’s editor-in-chief, credited the sports staff for spearheading the idea and working relentlessly to make it happen.

The staff of the OU Daily. Photo courtesy of George Stoia.

“It was their conception, and it was their work and communication with The Daily Texan and the hardworking people on our sports staff that got it done,” he said.

Hazelrigg saw this as another example of exceptional student journalism.

“Student journalism is and for a long time has been something that continues to impress with what it can accomplish,” he said. “They’re people that want to do meaningful work for their communities and they keep finding new ways to do that.”

SPLC reporter Joe Severino can be reached by email at jseverino@splc.org or by calling 202-974-6318. Follow him on Twitter at @jj_severino.

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