We have an important job on the opinion page at The Daily Tar Heel. We’re the voice of the University and the wider Chapel Hill community, defining the paper’s values. We are, as I learned in a reporting class last semester, “the soul of the paper.”
It’s a responsibility I take seriously as this year’s assistant opinions editor. But if we’re the voice of the community, shouldn’t our staff reflect the demographics of Chapel Hill? Last year’s opinions editors, Emily Yue and Zaynab Nasif, did an excellent job of recruiting a diverse editorial board, and I believe it’s crucial that this trend continues.
As we begin our hiring process for the year, I highly encourage students from all backgrounds to apply. If you don’t see yourself being represented in the paper, change it. You have a story and a voice that deserves to be heard by our paper and community.
Of course, The Daily Tar Heel’s diversity problem stems from The Daily Tar Heel itself. Despite talks of changing the predominately white culture in the office, there hasn’t been a concrete plan to recruit a more diverse staff. To be honest, I’m not sure myself how to completely change a 125-year-old tradition, but we can start to make small changes. And that can start with the editorial board.
I understand the hesitancy toward entering a predominately white space. I felt the same rush of discomfort when I walked into this year’s editor's retreat and realized that, once again, I was one of the few people of color in leadership, despite former University Desk Editor Lea Asmelash’s eye-opening last semester. Diversity shouldn’t just be a token word.
I’ll do everything I can to make sure the opinion page is a comfortable space for our staffers, but I’m learning, too. It’s hard to navigate a majority white space by yourself—I certainly felt that way at times my first year—but we can navigate it together.
We also get many complaints that the opinions page is too left-leaning and that it only represents one side of the political spectrum. Again, I encourage anyone to submit their opinions to our office, where they will have the potential to be assessed and published in our paper.
In my new job, I’m most excited to hear about the different views of the community, even if I disagree with them. The Daily Tar Heel is a learning paper, and I’m looking forward to this type of learning the most.
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