The Daily Tar Heel
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The Daily Tar Heel

Opining apart from the pack

This week, the summer DTH editors were asked to submit anonymous questions about each other for a Real World-style confessional video that will be shown at the DTH summer banquet tonight. Of the questions asked of me, some of the most telling were: ‘Can you name all of the editors on our staff?’ and “Where have you been all summer?”

Having served a year on the editorial board and a full summer as editor of the opinion section, it initially surprised me that I wasn’t that well-known in the newsroom. But then I remembered, this is why I chose the opinion desk.

There has always been an odd relationship between the opinion and news sections of this newspaper, and with good reason. Opinion writers are of a different breed.

We don’t write the news or report breaking stories. We wait for the J-school-educated staff writers to make the phone calls and do the research. And then we offer our most humble opinion.

Even now, as I write this column, I am sitting in a back office of the DTH, separated from my newsroom colleagues. If I need to get some facts or figures, I know where to find them. Then quickly, I’ll head back to my closed-door office to consult with the board or a columnist so we can clarify our angled approach.

Serving a year and a half on this desk has been an absolute honor for me because we are given nearly free reign to spin and slice as we wish. The opinion desk is offered a certain autonomy that makes copy editors cringe, but it makes me smile.

We don’t have to play by most of the rules intent on ensuring journalistic objectivity. In fact, we are required to maintain a high level of subjectivity on behalf of the students of this University and the people of this community. If not, the opinions expressed on the back page wouldn’t be authentic.

So as my tenure as opinion editor ends this week, I don’t regret to inform that my role on the DTH was, well, separate myself from the team.

Does it get lonely back here in the opinion office? You bet, but that loneliness is what fuels our ability to review the facts and do our best to offer a clear voice, even at the expense of being a team player.

So tonight, when the editors and staff of this summer’s DTH convene for a party in celebration of our final summer issue, I’m expecting a few strange looks. I may even get a “who the hell are you again?”

I probably won’t get most of the inside jokes, and I definitely won’t remember most of the stories.

But that’s OK with me, because sometimes, you have to separate your business from pleasure.

And, honestly, having been given the opportunity to do all that I could to shape the debate at UNC over the course of a year and a half is all the pleasure I needed.

Sam Jacobson is the Opinion editor for The Daily Tar Heel. He is a senior political science and global studies major from Bethesda, Md. Contact him at sdjacob@email.unc.edu.

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