The Maturity Column: The Rival offers candid alternative reading

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Any time a new student media site has the words “Change the meaning of campus journalism” in its mission statement and then posts an article titled “Do mass murderers just need to get laid?” you’re gonna be intrigued.

Especially if you write a humor column for another student media outlet.

“So, are we rivals? Do I hate you?” I asked one of the editors of The Rival, Mia Rafowitz, over the phone.

“More than anything, actually,” she said, tongue-in-cheek. “That’s what our meetings are mostly about. We just talk about how we hate every other publication.”

Well, those other publications are certainly more than a smidge different than The Rival. For starters, The Miami Hurricane has a section called “News” as opposed to The Rival’s “S*** You Need to Know.”

So yeah, you could probably say this week-old, student-run, non-school-affiliated outlet is targeting the college demographic in a way that us university-sponsored journalists can’t.

That’s most likely why it has an article called “Taking drugs from strangers” that features fresh perspectives like, “I have taken drugs from a stranger and I have survived … once in awhile you have to say f*** it.”

Ironically enough, I was once offered drugs by an old man on the metro, but I just replied, “Sorry, I gave up roofies for Lent.”

But The Rival brandishes articles with hard news elements as well, with stories informing students about the comeback of E. coli or a new dietary suggestion based off the recent report about cancerous processed meats.

So how can they possibly do both? Are they The Onion or Huffington Post?

“Some of it’s reporting, some of it’s fluff, not gonna lie,” staff writer Madie Dhaliwal said. “Some of it is for fun … we have to have s*** people want to read and some s*** people are gonna look at during class.”

Fortunately, the sarcastic pieces are anchored by a “This article is satirical in nature” note at the bottom. I guess the writers just have to hope students get that far, or else readers might conclude that “Themed frat parties decrease female libidio.” For one thing, I seriously doubt that such events will play any part in lowering a girl’s liability. Wait, “libido” is Spanish for liability, right?

Okay, so there’s serious stuff and playful stuff, and The Rival is trying to crack the case on informing and entertaining our denizens at the same time – like if Bill Nye broadcast his show from a hookah bar. But if they’re not affiliated with the school, how are they gonna find journalists that students can trust with the news? You don’t emerge as trustworthy.

“You can’t just show up and be like, ‘Here it is! Can I be published?’” said Melanie Martinez, the content director. “But at the same time, we do offer more open minded stuff. Obviously, we have editors and we’re gonna edit the s*** out of it, but we also want to give students the opportunity to say things that might be too risque for the Hurricane. We want to respect the student voice.”

Fortunately, I got that response from all three contributors I interviewed. So with that in mind, I asked Ms. Rafowitz if I could publish an article called “The Hurricane is infinitely better than The Rival.”

I’m not sure if she said yes, but she did agree we could marry in a forbidden, Romeo-and-Juliet-style romance. So that’s exciting.

Well, it would have been, if I didn’t invite her to a themed frat party.

Danny New is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. The Maturity Column runs alternate Mondays.

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