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The Daily Tar Heel

Laney Crawley will serve as the 2024-25 editor-in-chief of The Daily Tar Heel

Laney Crawley is the opinion editor of The Daily Tar Heel.

Laney Crawley is the opinion editor of The Daily Tar Heel.

Laney Crawley's signature color is pink. 

She enters The Daily Tar Heel newsroom every day in a rosy ensemble, right down to the backpack, ready to get to work as the newspaper's opinion editor.

For her fellow editors and co-workers, like University Editor Lauren Rhodes, the color is symbolic of the welcoming and joyful presence Crawley brings to the newsroom.

On Monday night, the Editor Selection Committee chose Crawley to be The DTH's next editor-in-chief.

Her platform includes addressing increasing rates of editor burnout and turnover, improving compensation, repairing connections with the Black Student Movement and restructuring the newsroom's investigative reporting and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. 

Crawley is the first Black woman to be selected as editor-in-chief of The DTH. After 131 years, Crawley said she is proud of the accomplishment — but disappointed it took this long.

"I'm really happy that I can be a part of that change," she said. "I'm really happy to be the first, and I don't want to be the last."

Crawley is a current UNC sophomore majoring in media and journalism and political science. She began working at The DTH during her first semester at UNC. She worked as a staff writer for the City & State desk during the 2022-23 school year and served as assistant opinion editor last fall before being promoted to opinion editor this semester. 

Jane Wester, who served as editor-in-chief of The DTH from 2016-17, was on Monday's selection committee. She said she was impressed by Crawley's joy, love and deep knowledge of the newspaper.

During the interview process, Wester said she was reminded of a concept she stressed to her fellow DTH editors when she was the editor-in-chief: that finding ways to criticize and change something is a symbol of a deep love for it.  

"That's what I saw in Laney," she said. "She was like, 'I love The DTH and I want it to continue to be strong, and that's why I'm going to make sure that I do call out these problems and hopefully fix them.' And that was just really, really optimistic to me."

Crawley will begin to interview and select editors for the 2024-25 school year this month. After a summer of planning, she'll start the job in August. 

"I'm really excited that I have the opportunity to do some of the things I talked about on my platform and actually implement those changes," she said. "I'm really looking forward to it."

As editor-in-chief, Crawley said one of her biggest goals is to create a sustainable work environment for editors and provide opportunities for them to pursue passion projects and longer stories that keep them feeling fulfilled at the paper. 

"I also really want to make sure that we're putting mental health before our excessive coverage demands," she said. "We don't need to be putting out stories every minute of the day. It is seriously impacting people's ability to work."

Charlene Wu, a staff writer on the Lifestyle desk and a member of the selection committee, said it was clear from Crawley's interview that she cares not only for the mental health of editors, but also staffers. 

"She talked about how editors could do reads on [Polk Place] as something new — just to get out of the office and have more of an intimate connection, which I thought was just a very refreshing idea," Wu said. "Only someone who has worked in the newsroom would think about that or have that kind of empathy." 

Crawley also plans to continue to nurture connections with student groups on campus, especially those who have been harmed by or left out of The DTH's coverage in the past. She said she would like to continue to prioritize the paper's relationship with organizations like the Black Student Movement and Students for Justice in Palestine and find ways to diversify coverage of underrepresented groups on campus.

Additionally, she plans to create a Special Projects desk — led by a managing editor — that is devoted specifically to substantive investigative reporting, taking some pressure off news desk editors. She will also combine the roles of online managing editor and multimedia managing editor and amplify DEI efforts within the newsroom outward to the community. 

For Rhodes, who is also Crawley's good friend, their relationship has been especially helpful in times when Rhodes was feeling overwhelmed. Crawley's quotable one-liners after long days in the office are often memorialized in sticky notes. 

"It's just the lightness that she brings to the newsroom," Rhodes said. "She's someone you can count on to be real with you."

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Connor Foote, assistant opinion editor, said Crawley's balance between down-to-earth humility and drive will not only make her a good leader inside the newsroom, but also serve her well as she becomes the face of the paper in the community.

Crawley said she was grateful for support through the application process from General Manager Courtney Mitchell and current Editor-in-Chief Emmy Martin, as well as everyone in the newsroom who provided encouragement. 

"I'm prepared to do whatever I have to do to make sure that I can make the changes that I promised on my platform," Crawley said. "And I'm just excited — I'm really happy right now."

@emimaerz@dailytarheel

university@dailytarheel.com


Emi Maerz

Emi Maerz is a 2023-24 assistant lifestyle editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously covered UNC for the university desk. Emi is a sophomore pursuing a double major in journalism and media and dramatic art.