The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday October 23rd

Column: Meet your new opinion editor

2020 has been a chaotic year — and somehow, it’s still not over yet. Amid questionable reopening plans, reckoning with a legacy of institutional racism and the recent release of sexual assault records after a years-long lawsuit, the role of the opinion page seems more important than ever.

I’m honored to serve as The Daily Tar Heel’s opinion editor for the 2020-21 year. To me, the opinion page is the heart of the community, a place where we can have important discussions about issues relevant to UNC and the larger Chapel Hill population. These conversations, however difficult they may be, are critical as we determine how to move forward as a desk, as a newsroom and as a community. 

The opinion page ought to belong, first and foremost, to its audience. But that hasn’t always been true; in fact, it probably still isn’t. There are huge sectors of the community whose voices have long been silenced and ignored — by the DTH, by the University, by the Town. It would be hypocritical to condemn the exclusion and erasure that’s omnipresent at UNC without acknowledging that it also exists within our own newsroom. It's a reckoning that's long overdue.

The DTH has always been a very homogenous institution — an echo chamber of sorts — and for the most part, our coverage reflects that. The opinion staff is not an accurate reflection of the community it claims to represent, no matter how much we try to pretend it is. With time, I hope that will change. But trust — and respect, for that matter — is a two-way street, and I know we have to earn yours. 

I know I’ve given you no reason to believe that I’m not just another white journalist voicing an empty commitment to “diversity and inclusion.” My biggest responsibility as your opinion editor is to listen, and I promise I’ll always be willing to do that. As a white woman, there are so many experiences I’ll never have nor understand — which is why I shouldn’t be the one to write about them. I encourage you to make your voice heard by joining our staff, or by submitting an op-ed or letter to the editor. 

There’s a lot of work to do, and I hope you will continue to hold us accountable as we begin what is already shaping up to be a tumultuous year. It’s not lost on me that with every column or editorial we publish, we owe a great deal to the many activists who put their lives and careers on the line to fight for justice. I’m grateful to those who have paved the way, and to those who continue to do so. You deserve better from us. Our BIPOC readers deserve better from us.

What’s important to you is important to us. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

@paigemasten

opinion@dailytarheel.com

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