1893 Brand Studio content creator Ashley Peterson sat down Friday to talk about the campaign with Erica Perel, general manager and advisor of The Daily Tar Heel, Matt Queen, president of the board of the directors, and Rachel Jones, editor-in-chief of The Daily Tar Heel.
Why is The Daily Tar Heel hosting a student fundraising campaign?
Jones: I think a really important part of this campaign is helping students develop good news habits. That’s something that I think the journalism industry is worried about, and that college newspapers are uniquely positioned to engage with. Students are so used to getting news for free online that the idea of paying for news is something that’s kind of fallen to the wayside for our generation. News is not free -- we pay our student editors, and it costs money to print the papers.
Perel: One of the things that’s happening in media today is that advertising has shifted. For a lot of years there was a lot of advertising revenue to make The Daily Tar Heel free for students. Now, we’re asking students to kick in $5 a piece so that they can pay for their news. News isn’t free, information isn’t free, but it is the cornerstone of democracy.
How much work and effort do the student staffers put in?
Jones: I think that something that people who aren’t on the DTH staff don’t understand is that being on the DTH really is a full-time job on top of being a full-time student. I’m here probably 45 to 50 hours a week. We come in at 3:30, often on print nights, we don’t leave until after midnight. The amount of work that our editors and reporters put in is astounding. They’re going to classes, and in between that they’re interviewing sources and putting in records requests, writing stories, doing all of these incredible things. It really is a labor of love. I just want people to understand that and to support it.
Perel: I would also add that we have students in our advertising and 1893 Brand Studio departments who also work long hours and are doing very creative work that’s going to set them up for their careers.
Queen: And to that point, this is an exercise in real life. We’re building the future of journalism and media here. And this such a great laboratory to do that.
Jones: These are the journalists of the future. I think that having a place with the history, prestige and care of The Daily Tar Heel is important in ensuring the next generation of journalists will be ready to take on the challenges of the future.
Why is independent news important to you?
Jones: I think that this semester really shows just how important independent news is. We’ve reported on Silent Sam’s toppling. We’ve reported on the Maya Little case. We’re reporting today on Margaret Spellings stepping down from her role as UNC system president. And all of these things are things that I think we could do as a publication that is operating under the umbrella of the university, but I think that we’re uniquely positioned now with the amount of editorial freedom that we have to really engage fully with topics that the university, the administration and the student body are all grappling with.
Queen: The biggest advantage of being an independent voice is that the DTH allows students to say what they’re actually thinking, and it gives students a platform to voice their concerns, to the community, to the university, and it’s a really good exercise in training students to be journalists in the future. Not really having to confirm to something that’s been handed down to them.
Perel: And we’re not even just talking about the independent voice of the students who work at the DTH. Any student can write a letter to the editor and potentially have it published. Any student can speak to DTH reporters. We want and hope that all students at UNC see their lives reflected in The Daily Tar Heel, both the good and the bad.