The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Happiness Is Leaving Something Better Than You Found It

As my year as editor draws to a close with this issue, I look back at the last nine months with a smile, my heart warmed by the incredible relationships I've developed and inspired by the strides this paper has made on my watch.

Last August, no one was sure what the future held for this paper, even me.

My doubters were plenty, and it's not like they didn't have a reason.

The step from a desk editor to head honcho is, as Bugs Bunny would say, a doozy.

But luckily my philosophy did not depend so much on how well I did, but on everybody else.

I believed in a bottom-up leadership style that meant those who worked for me were given more freedom -- and more responsibility. I still believe in it, mostly because it has proven to be effective. I dedicate this column to all those folks who, through their amazing dedication and talent, helped prove me right.

So what have we done?

We started the year with the goal of revamping our design, aiming for consistency, palatability and creativity. Fall Managing Editor Cate Doty led "Team Visual" to that aim and then some, and we've put out some of the purtiest Daily Tar Heels I ever did see.

Mind you, I had nothing to do with that, mostly because I don't know the first thing about visual stuff. I simply said, "Make it happen," and the end product was better than I could have imagined.

Newswise, this year has been, as I hope you gleaned from the paper's theme today, a year of new beginnings.

A new chancellor, new basketball coach, new provost, new finance vice-president, new football coach, new governor and new president all came on the scene looking to change the fabric of our campus, state and nation.

The Carolina Computing Initiative finished its rocky first year; Master Plan negotiations began in earnest; voters passed a landmark higher education bond; and a years-old battle at a nearby nuclear power plant almost came to a close. We tried to cover these events, people and issues as thoroughly as possible in an effort to keep y'all informed. I think we succeeded.

This year also brought healthy discussions about the fairness and effectiveness of two important campus organizations: the Honor Court and the Carolina Athletic Association.

I am most proud of our handling of these issues because they effected change. Student Congress wisely voted to make the CAA more accountable, which ultimately, I believe, will benefit the organization, as well as the student body.

We got many people, even the chancellor, talking about the honor system and how to make it better. The Independent Defense Counsel hopefully will help this situation, and I applaud Bill Hashemi for his initiative and activism in creating this worthwhile organization.

The best an editor can hope for is to make an impact that is still felt after he or she steps down. I believe these issues are where this paper made its presence felt the most, and I couldn't be prouder.

I also came into this year hoping to foster lively commentary on all the issues we cover. Ashley Stephenson, Anne Fawcett and Erin Mendell, the inaugural Page 3 columnists, did just that. I thank them for proving this experiment a success, and I look forward to reading the musings of their successors for years to come.

I hope you, dear readers, appreciate the fact that we strove to provide y'all with a top-notch newspaper, and I hope you'll at least consider the above arguments that we did.

I thank you for keeping us on our toes and for enriching our paper with your own views from time to time. It's been fun.

Most of all, I'm grateful to this amazing institution for the best four years of my life.

I have learned so much since my days as a wide-eyed freshman, and this paper has helped me pave the way for what I hope will be a long and successful career in this greatest of all professions.

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

I've learned the nuances of leadership, how to treat everyone equally while trying to accommodate their personal and professional differences. It's been tough, and I haven't always done the right thing on this front. But the lessons I've learned and the successes I've had bode well for both myself and the DTH.

I've also learned how important it is to put yourself in perspective, to see your actions as part of a much larger and more important whole.

The sense of humility this realization imparts makes it easier to leave this great University and great publication; I've made my mark, and now it's time for others to make theirs.

To my fellow seniors, the world awaits.

We've just come through a year of remarkable change, of new beginnings.

It's now time for us to help shape the course that these first steps ultimately will take. The challenges are many, the reprieves few. But if the interaction I've had with many of you is any indication, UNC's class of 2001 is well on its way to leaving a lasting impression on the outside world.

My time in Blue Heaven almost up, I am thankful that I leave with few regrets, more satisfied than wistful, more excited than intimidated.

In short, I'm happy.

Hope y'all are too.

Editor Matt Dees wishes to thank his family, friends and the lovely and talented Becky Amar for their undying support. Reach him at

Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel Victory Paper for November 20, 2023