Getting frisky with competitors in lovely southern S.D.

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

I’ll admit it.

Over many of the past few years, the Collegian has reeked of five-year-old sweat socks and locker rooms populated by large, sweaty old men.

Every time we would take a step forward, we would take another step back and I was on staff for many of the years that we took small steps forward but even larger steps back.

But the recent criticism of our newspaper in the pages of our well-established rival at USD (“The Volante,” for those of you who have never set foot in Vermillion) has me a bit puzzled.

What follows (in italics) is the complete text of what “The Volante” wrote that has me (and some other editors) so puzzled.

“USD offers a contemporary media and journalism degree with an emphasis on journalism. SDSU offers a bona fide journalism degree.

“USD publishes ‘The Volante,’ which doesn’t look terribly out of place on a national newsstand. SDSU publishes the Collegian, a broadsheet newspaper that looks like a college newspaper.

“‘The Volante’ is recognized regularly by the Associated Collegiate Press and is often a finalist for the Pacemaker Award, the highest honor for a college newspaper. Some people in Brookings may recognize the Collegian.

“Again, SDSU offers a journalism degree. USD offers journalism merely as an emphasis.

“This seems a little off.” (“The Volante,” Jan. 29, 2003, A6)

First of all, I should hope that some of you would recognize us by now. We’re the newspaper in all those racks around campus that isn’t the “Campus Eye?”

Now we can talk about this here “Volante” situation (it’s pronounced voe-lahnt, in case you didn’t know, though I almost prefer voe-lant-ee).

Some of you may wonder what makes “The Volante” so great that even they recognize how much better they are than us (and believe us, we’ve been sitting here for the last five months sweating over whether or not they’d notice).

Well, I’m about to let you in on “The Volante’s” great secret.

You ready?

“The Volante” … publishes news. On a piece of paper. And sometimes they even include columns and photographs!

If you would like to see this great wonder of the ages, stop on by our office and one of our editors will be happy to show you a copy. The two of you will then happily pore over it, trying to unlock the arcane secrets of the ages it contains.

If you’re wondering why “The Volante” belongs on a national newsstand, I’m about to let you in on that too, okay?

This is even better than the first revelation I made, so you’d better be sitting down.

“The Volante” belongs on a national newsstand because its so hip it actually prints numerous spelling errors on its front page!

Now, to be fair, we’ve printed our fair share of spelling errors on our front page, but we always get mad when we do this and wish we had corrected them. Can you imagine that? Trying to correct our mistakes!?

We could never be “The Volante” because we wouldn’t think of spelling illegitimate as illigitimite in a sub-head (Jan. 29, 2003, A1). We’re just not that smart or that cool. Guess we’ll just have to settle for being the dorky kid who sits at the front of the classroom while “The Volante” picks up all the chicks with its mad-hipster-cool ways.

Quite frankly, I couldn’t see what was so different about “The Volante” when I compared it to the Collegian, but then I realized that “The Volante” has won lots of awards and we haven’t.

Never mind the fact that we have no money to enter those sorts of competitions (we’re using all of it to support Krista Tschetter’s debilitating pancake addiction).

Never mind the fact that our own Justin Lessman was the first South Dakotan to take a place in the annual Hearst competition.

Seriously though (and I promise I’ll be serious from here on out), “The Volante’s” cheap shot stank of some sort of desperation. I don’t know what they’re desperate about, since they’re rolling in cash down there (literally) and we’re constantly on the verge of going under (since we give away our newspaper and we don’t get money from anyone, which is the smartest business decision ever), but they felt the need to lay the smack down on us.

“The Volante” has traditionally been the best-designed, cleanest-looking college newspaper in South Dakota with the Collegian running a distant second. While our writing came from real journalists who knew their stuff, we could never compete with their purty pictures.

Now that the lovely and talented Miss Kara Christensen has got this ship sailing the high seas again, we’re neck and neck with our brethren to the south.

I don’t think the point is whether we’re better than them or they’re better than us.

We’re both good newspapers that serve our respective universities and communities well.

We both work hard to provide stories that will interest, entertain and inform our readers.

Ultimately, we work to serve those who read this newspaper and not some snotty brats who are nervous about having some competition, which is why we don’t plan on acknowledging any more of their low blows.

Because we know we’re good and we don’t need anyone but you to tell us that. Though we could really use a hug…

Todd VanDerWerff is the Collegian’s managing editor. Write to him at [email protected]