If you’re a very careful reader of The Daily Tar Heel, you may have noticed a box on page 7 of today’s paper inviting members of the community to apply to be on the DTH’s Board of Directors.
Though it’s only about 3 inches square, this box is very important. The Board of Directors is the group of people who oversee the DTH’s business operations; they make the big financial decisions about the paper, allowing the reporters to focus on getting the news out.
I’ve heard from a number of people this year who were unhappy with the DTH, and a lot of the more vocal complaints centered around the basic question of who is in charge.
The answer is simple. Steven Norton, our editor-in-chief — to whom I and every other person at this organization ultimately report — is responsible for every word (and photo and cartoon and kvetch) printed in this newspaper.
Steven makes the decisions about what the news side of the DTH covers and how they cover it. He also sits on the editorial board, which means he is privy to the conversations that culminate in the unsigned board editorials you see on this page every day.
And when the editorial board can’t agree on a position, Steven is one of the 12 people whose votes decide where we’ll come down on an issue. In short, Steven is involved in all aspects of this paper’s production and is ultimately responsible for the entirety of its content.
But a few weeks ago, when a group of students asked me to whom, exactly, the editor-in-chief is accountable, I didn’t really have an answer.
The best I could come up with was that our editor-in-chief is accountable to the paper’s readers — an answer which felt flimsy when talking to an angry group of these very readers.
Though the DTH’s Board of Directors has no say over the paper’s content, the editor-in-chief still has some accountability to this board. Its members also hire our general manager, who in turn allocates the newspaper’s annual budget of more than $1 million.