The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday September 28th

Column: Opinion Desk FAQs — everything you need to know about the Opinion section

<p>Opinion Editor: Caitlyn Yaede</p>
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Opinion Editor: Caitlyn Yaede

If you’re anything like me, circa 2020, your knowledge of newsrooms is that they are strictly and entirely objective. And while that is true for the majority of a newsroom that’s responsible for reporting, the existence of opinion sections breaks from this norm. 

But because opinion sections are an anomaly in journalism — and are effectively separate from the rest of the newsrooms they reside in — there’s often misconceptions about whose opinions the section represents and who can contribute.

So, here are the answers to your most burning questions about the DTH's Opinion Desk:

What exactly do opinion sections do?

Simply put, we provide opinions, experiences and perspectives for our readers.

Opinion writing differs drastically from reporting. Opinion writers are not objective conveyers of the news, but rather engage with complicated discussions or complex issues, and provide their own perspectives. They rely on truth and fact to build their own understanding for readers who might lack the same access to information or diverse views.

While opinion writers are not bound by the rules of objectivity, they still uphold the Daily Tar Heel’s values of integrity, accountability, creativity and fairness.

Who makes up the Opinion Desk?

The Opinion Desk is comprised of an editor, assistant editor, editorialists and columnists.

Members of the Editorial Board produce unsigned editorials that are representative of the opinion of the board as a whole, not just the views of any one person. Members meet twice a week to pitch ideas and discuss topics from an intersectional perspective, challenging each other in their views and coming to a consensus on how to write about complex happenings at our University and in our community. 

The Editorial Board is made up of the DTH Editor-in-Chief, opinion editor, assistant opinion editor and editorialists. It does not represent the opinion of The Daily Tar Heel as a newsroom.

Columnists are individual writers, often with their own niches that they choose to cover. Columns solely represent the opinion of their author.

I submitted a letter and/or an op-ed. How do you decide if it will be published?

Letters to the editor and op-eds are pieces written by someone outside the newspaper who hopes to share their opinion on a specific issue. 

Op-eds are often written by someone with specific knowledge or qualifications on the issue they’re covering. Letters, on the other hand, are typically in response to a specific article or event and can be written by anyone.

Out of consideration for the sheer volume of submissions we receive, not all of our submissions end up being published. Letters and op-eds are chosen based on adherence to submission guidelines, length, clarity and relevance. We ask that submissions be kept to 500 words. Faculty should include their name, department and phone number. Students should include their name, year, major and phone number. Submissions are edited for space, clarity, accuracy and vulgarity.

Submissions should be sent to opinion@dailytarheel.com for review by the Opinion Editor.

What happens when I don’t agree with an opinion that was published?

We don’t expect everybody who reads the paper to agree with every opinion we publish. Opinion writing is a necessary aspect of journalism for its contributions to public discourse. Our goals are to start conversations and contribute to existing discussions about complicated issues for which there is no consensus.

It’s totally okay to disagree with what we publish. Consult with your peers, submit a letter to the editor or reevaluate your own preconceptions about the conversation at hand. We hope you use the opinion section as an opportunity to shape an opinion of your own — whether it be the same as ours or completely different.

As opinion editor, I strive to create an opinion section that represents a wide variety of experiences. I believe my desk is only as successful as it is diverse, and I balance publishing an abundance of perspectives with making sure bad faith arguments do not find their way into our paper.

Opinion sections are incredibly important, as they make the opinions of community members known, create room for advocacy and allow for potential solutions to the issues that plague our readers. 

Next time you open a copy of The Daily Tar Heel, turn to the opinion section and see what we are talking about.

@caitlyn_yaede

opinion@dailytarheel.com

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