On the campus of Penn State University, a rivalry between a rogue campus blog and the official newspaper has become a fascinating mirror of the strife between old and new media. In only a matter of months, the unofficial campus blog Onward State, has marshaled the power of social media to compete with the award winning 112-year-old campus paper The Daily Collegian. With one-tenth of the Collegian's staff size, Onward State has constructed a virtual newsroom that collaborates in real-time with Google Wave, outsourced its tip-line to Twitter, and is unabashed about linking to a competitor's story.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this sociological Petri dish is that many of the players began as teenagers. In other words, the old/new media rivalry might not be generational, but ideological. What follows is a practical look at the successful social media strategies of Onward State, and a comparison of the world views of two camps of student journalists and their professional counterparts — a comparison that portends a long war to come.