In the two years since Emmy Martin joined The Daily Tar Heel, she’s spent more time in the newsroom than anywhere else.
When she’s not taking a nap on the couch or conducting an interview in the newsroom’s supply closet, Martin is leading the City & State desk, where she’s covered everything from nurse burnout during the height of the pandemic to protests in Raleigh following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
On Saturday morning, the Editor Selection Committee chose Martin to be the DTH’s next editor-in-chief. Her platform includes restructuring newsroom leadership, focusing on multimedia and digital storytelling, holding the paper accountable to its readers, continuing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and addressing editor burnout.
Martin is a current sophomore majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in data science. She began working at the DTH during her first semester at UNC and was promoted to senior writer in just two months. Prior to her role as City & State editor, Martin worked as an assistant editor for City & State in spring 2022 and was the DTH's managing editor during the following summer.
“It was super terrifying to jump into editing as a first-year,” she said. “But I think it really gave me a taste of editing and being a part of the newsroom and made me want to really jump into the DTH.”
Selection as editor-in-chief
Delores Bailey, executive director of EMPOWERment Inc., served on the Editor Selection Committee as a community representative and said she was impressed with Martin’s maturity and accountability during her interview.
“She’s going to be a junior,” Bailey said. “And that’s going to be an interesting load for her to be the editor-in-chief of The Daily Tar Heel. But it felt completely like she could handle it.”
Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez, who was co-editor-in-chief of the DTH in 2020, was a member of Saturday's selection committee. He said he was impressed by Martin's ambition and her ideas for streamlining newsroom workflow.
"As a former co-editor-in-chief, I know how important it is to be organized," he said. "And I think that she has a knack for that sort of work. She's also beyond a good manager."
Martin will begin selecting editors for the 2023-2024 academic year near the end of April, with her time at the helm of the newsroom beginning in August. Opinion Editor Caitlyn Yaede will serve as summer editor.
Martin said she was grateful for the help she received through the application process from General Manager Courtney Mitchell and current Editor-in-Chief Guillermo Molero. She also said that though the process was rigorous, it was extremely rewarding.
"It doesn't feel real yet, but I'm incredibly excited to start talking to people and creating my team for next year and working to improve the DTH and serve our audience as best as we can," Martin said.
Vision for the newsroom
Martin said her vision for the paper is to create a space that is both a learning tool and a safe environment for staffers, editors and readers.
“I want our audience and our community to trust us and to look at The Daily Tar Heel, the paper and online, and be like, ‘This is my newspaper, this is my community represented,’” she said.
Maddie Policastro, a senior writer on the City & State desk, said they were nervous coming into the DTH last semester from their high school newspaper, but Martin has always been encouraging, kind and attentive.
“Even though there’s a lot of people on our desk, she listens to what our interests are, what we like to write about, and I think that she can apply that to the DTH as a whole,” Policastro said. “She’s a great listener, but she’s also a great communicator.”
With the unique opportunity of serving at every level of the newsroom from staff to management, Martin said that perspective has shown her the importance of communication.
William Goldsmith is a teaching assistant professor in UNC's public policy department who taught Martin last semester. He said Martin’s contributions in class were always geared toward fostering more dialogue among her classmates.
“She strikes me as someone who would approach the role with the appropriate level of humility and interest in trying to bring out the best and bring out consensus among the folks that she works with,” he said.
Martin’s plans for the newsroom include dividing the managing editor position into two roles, giving online and print production the separate attention they both need. Among other plans, Martin aims to add a lifestyle desk that would bridge news reporting and opinion writing to focus on arts, culture, fashion, travel and more.
“She doesn’t accept less than what we’re capable of as a newsroom. I know she’s going to be able to push us to be better than we were this year and better than we were last year,” Ethan Horton, a current assistant editor for the City & State desk, said. “She has this inherent almost need for herself to be great. And I think that’s going to propel the newsroom to greatness.”
Finding the DTH’s identity and emphasizing its place in the community is the most important thing to Martin. As editor-in-chief, she hopes to improve the paper in the best interest of the newsroom and its audience.
“We have a lot of work to do. But I love the people. I love the paper. I love our influence, and I love our community,” she said. “And I think I know I’m ready to put in the work that we need to do to make it better.”
Read Martin's full platform here.
Assistant University Editor Ira Wilder contributed reporting.
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