Chapel Fowler, current sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel, didn’t find his passion for sports or journalism until just before high school.
But when he did, the UNC sophomore didn’t have to look far to find insight.
“Once I realized what I wanted to do, I realized I had one of the best resources ever two rooms to my right,” Chapel said about his father Scott, a former DTH sports editor and current sports columnist at The Charlotte Observer.
Chapel said he doesn’t feel pressure to live up to Scott, partly because they have such different writing styles.
“He would never make me feel that way, but I like to joke about it,” Chapel said. “I like to say that I live in his shadow sometimes.”
Scott said he’s proud of his son’s dedication and his accomplishments after only two years at the newspaper.
“I have not been surprised at how he’s done because he has really embraced it, has tons of questions about it and obviously is very passionate about it,” Scott said.
The Fowlers’ different skill sets transcend journalism. Scott said Chapel has better artistic talent, while Chapel said his father is a better communicator.
“My mom calls him an over communicator,” Chapel said. “He’s a bigtime singer.”
Dinner tables and Daily Tar Heels
The Daily Tar Heel was a family affair for Eleanor Flagler Hardy, ‘74, and Betsy Flagler, ‘78, too — whose parents met at the DTH in the 1940s and had a now-DTH-famous romance.
Betsy, who wrote a nationally-syndicated parenting column for 20 years, said the family’s entire way of life was influenced by the newspaper business.
“We heard about The Daily Tar Heel and newspaper stories around the dinner table. The newspaper business was a way of life for us six kids,” she said. “My parents were both journalists, their friends were journalists and on and on.”
Eleanor, now president and co-owner of the Society of International Railway Travelers, said she looks to her parents as an example in more than journalism.
“I found that the model of my parents both being so interested in the news and journalism, and being married to one another, was a great model for me and my marriage, and Betsy and her marriage,” she said.
Jessica Banov, ‘97, Culture and Features editor at the News and Observer, said the shared experience at The Daily Tar Heel makes her relationship with her father special.
“(Journalism) became an interest probably because he exposed it to me on a more intimate level than just the daily newspaper and current events,” she said.
Jessica said she remembers hearing her dad, Alan Banov, ‘67, talk about stories that he covered while he was a student.
“I do remember him when I was a kid bringing out a notebook of articles he wrote when he was a student there. One that stuck out was he got to cover a Martin Luther King rally in Durham, which I found pretty fascinating that he was a part of history when he was that age,” Banov said.
Tips, tricks and dog pics
Though she had the advantage of being raised by journalists, Betsy said she did not seek advice from her parents often.
“Occasionally I might call him for advice, but really, we were both working so hard — we didn’t have time to dwell on the stories,” she said.
Chapel said he only asks his father for advice when he is especially nervous. He remembers his father receiving public criticism for publishing harsh stories.
“There was a sign — (Scott) uses it in all of his presentations about journalism. It said ‘Fire Fowler – No credability,’ but credibility’s spelling is butchered,” he said. “He basically told me, ‘people are going to get mad at you at some point; it doesn’t really matter what you do. You could be doing the best job in the world, and somebody will get mad at you.’”
Scott said he gives his son warning against some mistakes, but thinks Chapel has to learn from his own mistakes, too. He said he receives very few journalism requests — at least, comparatively speaking.
“For every one tip he asks me about journalism, he probably asks me three times to send another photo of what the dogs are doing today,” Scott said.
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