I want to increase the diversity and inclusivity of our newsroom. This is a public platform, so I’ll take this opportunity to increase awareness of an issue that’s just as pressing as our financial crisis: the leadership of our current newsroom is less diverse than UNC’s student body by almost 20 percent, and in 125 years, we have only had four people of color as editor-in-chief.
The good news is that we are more diverse at a staff-wide level. I believe our issues are recruitment and retention. We rely on word-of-mouth for the former, and for the latter we struggle to acknowledge our mostly white perspective. We can begin to fix this by reaching out to diverse journalism organizations on campus to develop ongoing relationships and publicize staff opportunities, holding honest conversations about race at our editors retreat and encouraging people of color to apply for assistant editor positions — these are the people that go on to lead desks, join management and shape the newsroom’s future.
I want to expand roles for senior staffers so that there is a clearer path to editorship, and an expanded role in the newsroom for those that want it, whether they’re on a writing or production desk. We can emphasize beat reporting for our senior writers, social media ownership for our veteran copy and online staffers and broadened visual storytelling for our photographers and designers. We can also institute breaking news shifts that provide our reporters with massive responsibility and opportunity, while better positioning us as a paper that not only covers the news, but gets to it first.
I want to establish clear lines of communication between all of the DTH’s departments. Sharing equipment and talent between the newsroom and brand studio should feel natural, and while it does in some regards, there are a lot of opportunities on this front that we’re squandering. I propose two solutions, one direct and one indirect: a joint task force to confront the issues facing our organization, and moving most of our listserv communication to Facebook groups to encourage interaction across desks and departments and responsive dialogues between leadership and staff.
These clear lines of communication also include our Board of Directors, which I’m advocating to become more public. Every day, our staff fights to make sure that powerful institutions in our community are held accountable — we should ask the same from our leadership. For me, that means making some Board meetings open, supplying minutes to the staff and alumni when possible and advocating for more non-voting student representation on the board.
These goals are practical. They’re achievable. They’ve been suggested and vetted in our newsroom. This paper has given me more opportunities and experience than I could have possibly imagined as a14-year-old from a small town, starstruck and learning for the first time what being a reporter really meant. It would be an incredible honor to lead this paper and make sure that legacy continues for UNC students like me and the community we serve.