<< Front page Commentary May 14, 2004

Grape and Review should cooperate, not bicker

To the Editors:

Oberlin’s most regularly distributed news sources, The Grape and The Oberlin Review, are engaged in an age-old rivalry that the Grape’s Editor-in-Chief, Ali Katz, has described as “delightfully pointless.”

This rivalry is more than “pointless,” it is detrimental, and it detracts from the quality and diversity of Oberlin College’s published news. The Grape describes itself as “Oberlin’s Alternative Student Newspaper.”

At Oberlin we support such concepts as “alternative.” It is the Grape staff’s responsibility to present this alternative. However, in order to present an alternative, the Grape staff must have a firm grasp on the mainstream, in this case the Review’s role, and responsibilities. Without firm communication with the Review, the Grape is in danger of merely reproducing mainstream news, rather than providing an alternative news source.

The Grape and Review’s rivalry reduces the overall quality and diversity of Oberlin news coverage. Due to this rivalry, there is little communication between the two publications.
This lack of communication is extremely problematic because instead of presenting alternative views, the two papers end up reporting in a very similar manner. One example of such similar reporting occurred in the Grape’s April 29 issue (actually distributed on the 30th) and the Review’s April 30 issue.

In the Grape’s April 29 issue, the cover story for the Arts Section read, “And What!? Gets Down on the Floor; Finney Chapel is Shown A Good Time by Dance Group.” The article discussed the Arts editor Emily Guendelsberger’s appreciation of “And What!?” dance moves and spirit.

Similarly the cover page of the Review’s Arts section featured an article entitled, “And What!?” proves hip-hop is alive at Oberlin; performance and education troupe spices up Finney. This article detailed “And What!?’s” purpose more thoroughly and also complemented their style and performance.

Both the Grape’s and the Review’s articles were written about an “And What!?” show that was performed at Finney Chapel on Sunday, April 25. Both these articles described the high quality performance. This is not in criticism of “And What!?,” a much appreciated Oberlin dance troupe. But I didn’t need to read both articles to know they had a good show.

My question is, wasn’t there anything else happening on the Oberlin art scene? Couldn’t these two publications have focused on different aspects of the And What!? performance? Or better yet, they could have reported on different And What!? performances.

If you read the Review or The Grape you wouldn’t know that on Friday April 30 And What!? performed at the ’Sco as part of the event “Payday: Battle of the Beasts.” This event featured artists from the East and West Coasts, as well as Oberlin students. The event filled the ’Sco over fire code capacity.

If you relied on the published news you wouldn’t know this, because neither the Review nor the Grape reported on “Payday: Battle of The Beasts.” I do not want this one example to draw from the main thrust of this letter. It stands as one instance, in many. Despite the Grape’s claim to publish an alternative newspaper, The Grape and the Review often publish remarkably similar articles.

The Grape presents itself as “Oberlin’s Alternative Newspaper.” Yet I charge that it fails to present an alternative view. The blame is not solely to be placed on the Grape. The Review and the the Grape staffs should be in communication. They are after all located in the same Burton basement.

Is it too much to ask the Arts editors to walk down their respective hallways and meet in the conveniently located Burton lounge? Or maybe they could meet in the kitchen, and share a microwave burrito while discussing the up and coming week’s issue.
If said meetings occurred, The Oberlin Review and the Grape, could avoid such embarrassing happenings as publishing virtually duplicate cover stories.

The Grape claims to be an alternative news source, and I demand they deliver. This is my challenge to next year’s Grape staff.

–Phil Kreniske
College senior


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