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The Daily Tar Heel

Platform: Reevaluating and evolving in a digital, post-pandemic world

Emmy Martin

Emmy Martin is the editor of The Daily Tar Heel.

The Daily Tar Heel has grown and adapted over the past 130 years.

A lot has changed in our paper’s history  — a lot should have changed. But one thing is clear: our evolution is far from complete. 

Restructuring newsroom leadership 

After researching professional newsrooms and past DTH leadership, I believe it’s time to restructure our editors. 

As editor-in-chief, I will divide the managing editor position into online managing editor and print managing editor. One managing editor cannot fully focus on both platforms.  

The online managing editor will oversee all online production and the print managing editor will lead print-related production.

I will also introduce deputy managing editors to the DTH. 

They will function under the managing editors but oversee the work of the desk editors. Each deputy managing editor will focus on a separate part of the DTH: Elevate, enterprise, multimedia and sports.

These deputy managing editors will increase the support for the desk editors, while also allowing the editor-in-chief and managing editors to focus on directing the newsroom overall. 

While I’m adding new positions, I have balanced the additions by taking away or restructuring old positions. 

Focusing on digital and multimedia

Almost every editor-in-chief’s platform in the last decade has mentioned multimedia and a digital-first perspective. 

It’s time we take the necessary steps to make the DTH’s digital presence as impressive as its print one.

The DTH’s online stories should not be a mirror of their print counterpart — they should be interactive with information boxes, links, embedded photos and documents.

The multimedia deputy managing editor will lead our efforts of expanding to mediums beyond print journalism and work with the data, photo, design and audio-visual desks.

The DTH’s website is in need of a refresh. As editor-in-chief, I will create a committee dedicated to redesigning the website to be more dynamic and user-friendly.

As we improve our digital presence, I think it is also important that we update and standardize our style. The DTH hasn’t updated its stylebook since 2019. I plan to create an updated DTH Stylebook for next year. 

Listening to our audience

The DTH should be held accountable to its readers.

As editor-in-chief, I will bring back the role of an independent public editor, or an ombudsman, who will investigate complaints and concerns regarding issues of accuracy and fairness at the DTH. 

In addition to bringing back the role of a public editor, I also plan to bring back our arts and culture coverage in the lifestyle desk. 

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Since the DTH’s arts & culture desk was dissolved, there has been a gap in our coverage of music, theatre, art, community events, fashion and food. The lifestyle desk will be able to function between “hard” news and magazine writing — a space the DTH has left empty for too long.

Continuing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts

The DTH is a predominately-white newsroom that has harmed its relationships with marginalized communities in the past. 

We must continue to be future-facing in our efforts to improve and increase diverse representation in our coverage and staff. 

The DTH took the Elevate section out of print this year because it separated the coverage of underrepresented communities from the rest of the newspaper. Although the section will remain online, Elevate is in limbo. 

Promoting the position of Elevate editor to Elevate deputy managing editor is a first step to addressing this. 

I plan to create a committee, which the Elevate deputy managing editor will oversee, of representatives from each desk focused on improving and expanding the DTH’s Elevate coverage. 

We must also focus on our recruitment efforts. It’s important that the DTH increases efforts to hire staff members who have various life experiences and insights, as well as continues to nurture and prioritize our relationships with underrepresented student groups.

Addressing newsroom culture and editor burnout

The COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts go beyond those we can see. Rates of anxiety and depression have increased since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a study by the National Institute of Health. 

On top of that, the DTH has long had a culture of burnout. 

Every DTH editor gets two days off every month and each assistant editor gets an additional day off each week. But often, our “Days Off” spreadsheet remains blank.

I will enforce days off each month for all editors. If someone is not using their days off, I will meet with them to address the underlying issue. 

As editor-in-chief, I also plan to work with editors to come up with a strategy to make their staff numbers more manageable while still functioning as a paper that teaches students how to be journalists. 

I will do everything in my power to make my vision for the DTH a reality. What’s that cheesy saying? Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you'll land among the stars. 

@emmymrtin


Emmy Martin

Emmy Martin is the 2023-24 editor-in-chief of The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as the DTH's city & state editor and summer managing editor. Emmy is a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and media and information science.