The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday December 8th

Meet your 2019 Opinion Editor

<p>Devon Johnson, opinion editor.&nbsp;</p>
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Devon Johnson, opinion editor. 

I’m so grateful to be the opinion editor this year, and I’m really excited to see how my writers and I will work to improve this desk. In years past, I’ve felt like the opinion desk hasn’t truly represented the opinions, perspectives and narratives of all of our readers. That said, my three major goals for this year are to increase community engagement, to sharpen the opinions we publish and to diversify our writing staff. 

My team and I will strive to meet the first two goals internally. The third goal, however, comes with an ask for you all. 

The Daily Tar Heel has historically been a predominantly white, liberal-leaning, echo chamber. Consequently, the opinion desk’s demographics have reflected that. The consequences of this are two-fold, as our lack of diversity excludes underrepresented writers and severely limits the breadth of perspectives from which we can write. 

My desk's mission to diversify our staff is not about stroking our progressive egos for the sake of having a postcard-worthy staff. This effort is about producing the best content possible while simultaneously uplifting the voices and opinions of marginalized folks in our community.

I truly believe, especially when it comes to opinion writing, that it is important to elevate the perspectives of folks across lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, partisanship, etc. 

For example, when we write editorials about legislation like HB2, we can publish stronger opinions when they’re written by trans and gender non-conforming folks. When we write about how something like Silent Sam makes Black students feel on this campus, I want Black editorial board members writing that piece instead of other writers making speculative claims. When writing about how ICE raids are affecting immigrant communities, I want immigrants’ lived experiences to inform the piece.

We live in a somewhat precarious political moment that lacks informed inter-partisan dialogue, and my desk is lacking that dialogue, too. I believe that a strong opinion page is one that uses fact-based claims to spark dialogue within our communities. That said, I want to make this page a space where right and left-leaning voices have a platform for informed commentary. If we can’t come to the table face-to-face to speak with one another, perhaps we can start with a dialogue on the opinion page. 

In summary, I want to shake things up a little bit. As the only Black writer throughout my two years with opinion, I know what it’s like to feel both typecast and underrepresented. If you feel similarly, and you are looking for a platform to advocate for those who would otherwise go unheard, there might be a place for you on my desk. I believe that your voice matters, that your lived experience matters and that your opinion matters.

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