I thought about and wrote so many different beginnings for this column. I wanted to talk about my first encounter with The Daily Tar Heel's social media policy when I was an incoming first year or my experiences in the office.
None of it felt right. This column isn’t about me or my experiences — actually the opposite. It’s about experiences I will never have nor understand, but ones that our newsroom is way too late to recognize and validate.
As the DTH’s new leader, I want to say I’m sorry. And make some promises.
We have done so many things wrong. We do not look like the communities we serve, both on UNC’s campus and in the town of Chapel Hill, and as a result, we lack their trust. This is completely justified.
We lack their trust because our lack of diversity causes us to have massive, traumatic blind spots. We’ve published articles that called bubble tea a “trend” and wrote an article about the history of theater on campus without mentioning the Black Arts Theatre Company.
I’ve watched three editor elections, and in each one, the candidates promised that they cared about addressing these concerns and starting to fix each of these problems. But in my time on staff up until now, I never saw a newsroom-wide effort to have these difficult conversations or take concrete steps to make progress.
I was another editor who made that same promise. Now, I’m asking that no matter what else my newsroom accomplishes this year, I want you to remember me based on how much progress I made on keeping that promise.
The DTH now has two diversity, equity and inclusion officers for the first time in our 127-year history. They’re City & State Assistant Editor Brittany McGee and Arts & Culture Editor Ramishah Maruf, and thanks to their incredible leadership, we’re planning to do things differently this year.
The first is what you’re reading right now: Elevate. It’s a space in our paper and on our website entirely dedicated to uplifting marginalized voices, with content both from our staff and from the UNC community.
Here’s what else you can expect from us:
- We will conduct a diversity audit of our newsroom by the end of the semester.
- We are going to keep a running spreadsheet analyzing how we cover stories and to whom we talk to make sure we’re capturing as many voices as possible. Then we’re going to review our coverage each month to look at trends, holes and how we can address mistakes so they don’t happen again.
- We will review our shortcomings in our 127-year past, and work to right wrong-doings and mend relationships and bridges broken.
And above all, we’re going to keep having conversations about how we can better our workplace. Those conversations are exactly what led us to change our social media policy this summer, and we need to keep asking how we as editors can make the DTH a better place.
Anna Pogarcic is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Tar Heel. She is a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill studying journalism and history major.
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