Penn State-Northwestern Rivalry Extends from Football Field to Newsroom

Story posted October 5, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by Phil Constantino

For nearly 20 years, Northwestern and Penn State have been Big Ten Conference foes. Still, it would be a stretch to call them "rivals," at least on the field.

In the classroom, the two schools battle at the top of the journalism world. No single college ranking can be called the absolute truth, but for the most part the journalism programs at Northwestern and Penn State can be found at the top of the list. Northwestern remains ahead of Penn State on most lists.

Since rankings can be subjective, the best way to compare the two programs is through the product each has put out into the media landscape. Famous alumni of Northwestern's journalism program include J.A. Adande, Kevin Blackistone, Rich Eisen, Mike Greenberg, Jon Heyman, Brent Musburger, Rachel Nichols, Dave Revsine, Adam Rittenberg, Darren Rovell and Michael Wilbon. The aforementioned list only includes famous alumni in sports journalism, leaving out an even longer list of famous journalists in other news fields.

Penn State's list includes Lisa Salters, Tom Verducci and Kim Jones. It's pretty clear that, up to this point, Northwestern is the powerhouse and Penn State is the little sister pulling on Northwestern's pant leg.

It may in fact be the inverse of the situation on the field: like Northwestern's football team, Penn State's journalism program is on the rise, coming to get the powerhouse.

Penn State journalism students now have access to opportunities and experiences most journalism schools cannot offer. The chance to cover 31 Division I athletic programs is rare. Internship opportunities at and with Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics are even rarer. And Penn State's journalism students are now operating in the national spotlight after the events of the past year.

Is the gap closing? Is it a rivalry?, To some Penn State journalism students it has always been.

This Saturday, undefeated Northwestern travels to Happy Valley to take on Penn State for a noon kickoff. This is a particularly rare game, in that Northwestern is ranked and Penn State is not. It may just fuel a growing rivalry between the two schools.

Phil Constantino is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email