I remember sitting in my Foundations in Photojournalism class listening to the older photographers, who were only taking the class for the credit to graduate, talking about all the work that went into publishing whatever “The Daily Tar Heel” was.
I had transferred to UNC from another school, where saving local journalism was one of the only things classes talked about. The reality was pessimistic at best.
What’s the point of a printed paper? Journalism is dying. Staffers keep bringing in photos late. Wait, what was the point of printing a paper again?
Therefore, my first impression of journalism was entirely skewed. You report, you write and you publish. My understanding was basically the most underdeveloped assumption of journalism, minus the transatlantic accent and the newsies standing on soap boxes.
To come to UNC and see the DTH working the way it did from the outside? It was astonishing. Students working to make national headlines and creating a tangible impact in a community like Chapel Hill, all while studying for midterms.
So, a few years would pass before I’d have the necessary skills to work up the courage to direct a message to a friend of mine and ask, “Hey would you need any help on the photo desk?”
It was just that easy? I was finally a member of the group of students who made local journalism look fun.
Which is the case … sometimes. What I wasn’t deciding to acknowledge was the work that went into it. I had to wake up at 5 in the morning to get photos? I had to develop pictures in my car and fight to use equipment every other week?
Flash forward a year later, I switch the photo for video and started to laugh at what I once thought the DTH was in my head. Because if you ask anyone who’s done their fair share of work at the paper, one of the first things they recognize is how hard the work is.
They’ll discuss the long hours or the drama that would eventually circulate within the newsroom. Photographers will lament the equipment that doesn’t exist and the copy editors will curse the world over if they had to read one more misspelled word at 1 a.m.
If you walk into the office right now, you’ll see a tallied list on a whiteboard that says “Times Chris threatened to Quit” with more hash marks than you’d be able to count.
Which is absurd, because all I ever did for the paper was make “What Just Happened?”
And it’s funny because even as I look back, lamenting some moments of struggle within the DTH, here I am almost a year later, wishing I could’ve contributed more.
The DTH has its fair share of problems. I’ll be the first person to acknowledge that. But in my mind, I think it’s a testament to the love people put into the things they care about — because it would be nothing without the people everyday willing to do the work. The people willing to work hours a week with little to no pay. The people willing to sleep in the office and watch the sun rise just so they can finish a story.
So with a week left in my undergraduate career and no time left as video editor, I just want to say thank you to some of the people here.
To PJ for never having anything but a smile on his face. To Ira for being so humble about his photography. To Maydha for letting me complain about this job all the time. To Praveena for asking me to do this job and showing me that the people you meet are worth so much more than the work you produce.
And to Rajee for letting me turn this story in 10 minutes late. I’m a videographer. Not a writer.
So for the very last time, this column goes out to Praveena Somasundaram. Because for the first time ever, I finally get to mean it when I say “I quit."
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