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Behind The Bruin: How and why we decided to collaborate with USC’s newspaper

(Aileen Nguyen/Graphics editor)

By Joy Hong

Nov. 27, 2019 5:24 p.m.

The Daily Bruin doesn’t write itself. Behind every copy placed on newsstands and every story published online lies the journalistic process of hundreds of hard-working contributors, staffers and editors. Every day, important decisions are made to determine what is reported, how the reporting happens and in what ways we can best serve our readers. This is Behind The Bruin.

Offering another look behind the scenes at The Bruin, Managing editor Joy Hong details the process behind our first-ever Rivalry Issue, a collaboration with the Daily Trojan.

The crosstown rivalry has traditionally been about the pranks.

During UCLA and USC footballs’ rivalry week last year, the Bruin Bear statue was painted red and yellow two days before the game. The Daily Trojan even replaced our newsstands with copies of its paper in 2013.

But this year, rivalry week was more than the battle for the bell. In the spirit of journalistic sportsmanship, both campuses came together to present the same paper on each other’s newsstands.

For the first time, the Daily Bruin collaborated with the Daily Trojan to produce the Rivalry Issue, highlighting the historic matchup and key implications for both teams. The issue was inspired by a combined issue between Duke and North Carolina’s student newspapers earlier this year, which focused on their iconic men’s basketball rivalry.

The collaboration provided both papers with an enriching experience and gave editors the opportunity to bounce ideas back and forth. Staffers said it was challenging, yet worthwhile.

We weren’t the only schools that were inspired. Other schools, with their own football rivalries slated before us, created joint issues as well: Oregon-Washington, Oklahoma-Texas and Florida-Georgia.

So we wanted ours to be different.

From the start, we prioritized aesthetic cohesion and an issue tailored toward digital audiences. We wanted to make the package look like one collaborative paper – not only in print but also online. Alongside our issue on newsstands, we also worked to create a joint page online that allowed readers to access and interact with the content digitally.

From picking a printer and distributor to dividing the web development, it was all about communication and compromise.

The 32-page issue – 15 pages of Daily Bruin and 15 pages of Daily Trojan – printed content ranging from game previews and player profiles to scouting reports and game predictions. The paper also featured a collaborative center-spread piece, where the two papers picked an All-Los Angeles team, highlighting the best athletes from both sides.

Aside from carefully curated content, the design of the issue really made the finished product unique. Each section’s cover – while displaying the schools’ colors and players – echoed the other’s branding and tied the issue together from one end to the other.

On newsstands in Westwood, the Daily Bruin cover faced up. Across town, it was the Daily Trojan’s cover on top.

Inside the covers and behind the webpage, both papers made many organizational decisions along the way in order to see the vision come to fruition.

A series of conference calls, a Daily Bruin | Daily Trojan Slack workspace and, ultimately, a team of Daily Trojan editors making the hike across town made up the bulk of our joint production.

One of the most important decisions from the get-go was deciding what kind of content to include. Both papers print news, arts and entertainment, and opinion sections every day in addition to sports. Because the rivalry primarily centers around what happens on the football field – and that was the timing of the issue – we made the call to only print stories related to the game.

Copies of the Daily Bruin and Daily Trojan hit newsstands on each respective campus every day. What readers may not realize though, is that the two are different sizes – the Daily Bruin being a bigger broadsheet size and the Daily Trojan being printed in a smaller tabloid size. USC was the host for this year’s matchup, so we elected to print the issue in its paper size.

Another difficult part of the printing process for this special issue was how much to print in color as opposed to black and white, and which organization’s printer would be in charge of printing.

After weeks of deliberation and negotiation, we agreed to print the issue – in full color – with the Daily Bruin’s printer, ensuring that the issue would print on time and be delivered to each campus the day before the game.

Creating the online page was a simpler process compared to that of the print edition. We locked down the domain nearly a month before the issue was published. We worked together to produce a page displaying both newspapers’ stories, and even made a separate external site to host the center-spread.

An animated composition of the covers opened up to an interactive quiz designed to track fan predictions leading up to the weekend game. Most importantly, we wanted to place special attention to the history of it all. A timeline detailing the rivalry’s most memorable games hangs above an article grid with stories from each outlet.

It was a long four months spent determining the content, presentation and promotion of the issue – but seeing it on newsstands and online last week made it all worth it.

And who knows, this just might be the start of an annual crosstown crossover.

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Joy Hong | Alumna
Hong joined the Bruin as a freshman in 2017 and contributed until 2020. She was the Managing editor for the 2019-2020 academic year and an assistant Sports editor for the 2018-2019 academic year. Hong spent time on the women's basketball, men's water polo, women's water polo, women's tennis and beach volleyball beats.
Hong joined the Bruin as a freshman in 2017 and contributed until 2020. She was the Managing editor for the 2019-2020 academic year and an assistant Sports editor for the 2018-2019 academic year. Hong spent time on the women's basketball, men's water polo, women's water polo, women's tennis and beach volleyball beats.
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