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Matt Von Pinnon, Published April 18 2010

Von Pinnon: Call it a coincidence: Student paper mirrors us

Great minds think alike.

That must have been the case when two local newspapers recently used similar illustrations, headlines and Page 1 placement on news that the University of North Dakota would retire its Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.

The Forum ran its story package on Friday, April 9, a day after the decision was handed down.

The Spectrum, North Dakota State University’s twice-weekly newspaper, ran its story package last Tuesday, four days after the Forum package ran.

Seeing the striking similarities, we inquired with Spectrum Editor Adam Sprengeler, whose crew fairly regularly invites Forum staffers to critique and offer advice to students working at the paper.

Sprengeler acknowledged the common approach, but said his staff independently came up with the art idea and headline, apparently unaware of what The Forum had done.

It’s possible.

Good art is often imitated. So is effective wordplay. Even if unintentional, people subconsciously store images and ideas that occasionally resurface and mimic the originals.

As someone who pays pretty close attention to words and images, I’ve seen many ideas replicated in books and newspapers over the years. I’m just not sure I’ve seen such a case in so similar a fashion in the same market and medium.

When Forum Presentation Editor Rob Beer came up with the illustration and headline for our package, we thought it was pretty unique.

Little did we know some students less than two miles across town had the same ideas.

Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum. Reach him at (701) 241-5579.