The Daily Tar Heel
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The Daily Tar Heel

Farewell Column: I have a lot of feelings

Taylor Barnhill was a member of the Copy Board.

I’m certainly not the first to say it, but I have a complicated relationship with The Daily Tar Heel. 

I began as most others did as a staffer: bright-eyed, inspired, intimidated, naive. Editors made it seem so easy in how they made the paper every week, and I aspired to do the work that they did — to be responsible for producing The Daily Tar Heel. 

And now that the visage of it all falls, I’m able to reflect on my experience here with a new set of eyes. I’ve got a lot of feelings about it.

One feeling is burnout. I’ve spent every semester of my UNC tenure at the DTH and I’ve seen current and past editors and staffers reach their breaking points, compounded by too many sleepless nights and the pressures of serving Chapel Hill and Carrboro as its main print news source. 

One feeling comes from the idea that I’m not doing enough. When I assumed my role, I had a lot of thoughts on how to make our desk better, with more staff involvement and work-life boundaries — boundaries which I’ve sacrificed to read just one more story, to place just one more page.

And I have accomplished some of the things I’ve set out to do. But, more importantly, I’ve learned that intentions sometimes fall short — and that’s ok. 

Yes, the DTH has its problems. It's still far behind in equitable representation and equitable coverage. There is often too much to do and too little time to do it. 

But I want to be clear that this column is not a lament. So, let’s get on to the good stuff. 

One other feeling I have is appreciation. I have met some truly wonderful people during my time here. Our editors’ passion for our community, our college and our people is continually inspiring. I learn from them every single day, in how to be both a better editor and a better human. 

In the same vein, I will always be grateful to the DTH for giving me a community. From Elise’s hilarious -isms ("gruncle," spelling any “e” sound with “eigh," etc.) to Emma having her passenger seat open for a ride home, the kindness and exuberance of everyone here is something I’ll always treasure. 

Yet another feeling is purpose. The DTH gave me a chance to be a part of something bigger than myself — a chance to feel like I’ve served our community in some small way by simply helping to vet stories for inaccuracies and good-ol’ AP style.

And perhaps what I’m most grateful for is the way this place made me feel tougher. Readers can be quick to call out and slow to forget any mistake you’ve made — something that would have had high school Taylor crying in a corner (not literally, but I wouldn’t have taken it well). So you learn to take it all in stride, to learn from mistakes and to keep going, even when it feels like you can’t afford another blunder.

And I have learned a lot. I’ve learned to organize a team, to manage time down to the minute and to trust my editing gut. I’ve learned to face tough situations without fear of conflict. And I’ve learned to give more grace — at the end of the day, we really are just doing our best. 

So, as I say my farewell to this place, perhaps the best way to describe my feelings is bittersweet. I’ll miss the cozy corner desk that I share with Hannah, the banter caused by office Slackbots and the after-work Linda’s trivia. I'll miss the late-night popcorn, eaten when we've depleted the rest of the office's snacks. I'll miss, in a word, the shenanigans. 

But I look forward to the chance to chase my new dreams, ones that exist outside of the news cycle (especially considering the dismal future of news copy desks, but that’s a column in itself). I look forward to time spent with loved ones as I look toward my final semester at this University. 

And, importantly, I look forward to the work this paper will continue to do without me — to print news and raise hell for generations to come.  


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