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The Daily Tar Heel

Farewell Column: Goodnight, Daily Tar Heel

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Photo Editor Kennedy Cox and her miniature schnauzer, Gaston, sit on the couch in The DTH newsroom on Tuesday, April 30, 2024.

My parents always encouraged me to play a sport throughout my childhood. My mom loves to boast about how she was a track star, and my dad loves to reminisce about his days on the baseball field.

Unfortunately, as the designated “knee-brace girl” (and walking-boot girl and ankle-brace girl), sports weren’t written in the stars for me.

It wasn’t until high school that I finally experienced what it was like to be on a team, in my theater program. That was the first time in my entire life that I had ever experienced camaraderie. I found every opportunity to compare my real-life experience as a theater kid to "Glee," the television series surrounding a group of students in their high school show choir.

Rachel Berry, the main character in the show, says to her teacher in the pilot episode, “I know I’m just a sophomore, but I can feel the clock ticking away and I don’t want to leave high school with nothing to show for it.”

I’ve watched the series nine times, and every time I hear that quote, I reflect on where I am in life and ask myself if I have anything to show for that period.

During my sophomore year of college, that quote rang truer than ever before. I decided to join the Photo desk. By the end of that year, I had gained the confidence (and encouragement from then-photo editor and my freshman-year roommate, Caroline Bittenbender) to apply to become photo editor.

I didn’t get the job.

I applied for assistant photo editor instead, but in a wild turn of events, I eventually landed a co-photo editor position alongside Samantha Lewis. Overnight, I had become a part of a team that would ultimately change my life.

In my time as a photo editor, I’ve covered a 32-hour sit-in, two Duke games, multiple Franklin Street rushes, two Jubilees, two Jumpman Classics, the Mayo Classic, the Mayo Bowl, a rare Kenan Stadium field rush, the N.C. State Fair, campus concerts and numerous other exciting events.

I didn’t even care about sports when I first joined, but after accidentally being assigned to a basketball game during my first semester on the desk (new staffers don’t cover basketball or football but shoutout to former photo editor Ira Wilder for believing in me), I got the sports itch. 

I can’t even count how many football and basketball games I was lucky enough to cover, but the sidelines of Kenan Stadium and the Dean E. Smith Center have become two of my happy places. 

Of course, I can’t talk about the past two years without mentioning the unofficial mascot of The Daily Tar Heel, my beloved miniature Schnauzer, Gaston. Him coming into the newsroom for the first time was an accident — I begged my parents to let him come stay with me in my house off-campus, and during the drive from my home in Cornelius back to Chapel Hill, I sent a message in Slack saying I’d be late to our budget meeting because I had to take him home first.

Liv Reilly, the University editor at the time, said, “ Bring him.” He’s come to the office almost every day since then, and knowing that he’s been able to brighten so many days and bring smiles to so many faces brings me so much joy.

Over the past two years, I have also covered a shooting, protests, vigils, demonstrations, court hearings, student mental health crises, COVID-19 scares and more recently, the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on Polk Place.

As exciting as this job has been, I feel like I’ve lived many lives and and aged many years. There’s an ongoing joke at The Daily Tar Heel that I’m really old. In fact, I am the oldest editor in the newsroom. During an enterprise meeting at the beginning of the year, Laney Crawley, the Opinion editor, looked at me and asked, "Wait — what year were you born? 1990…8?" 

As much as I would love to stick around for one more year, I came to the conclusion this spring that it’s time for me to hand over the reins, as hard as it is for me to imagine my life without The Daily Tar Heel. It’s going to be hard for me to let go, but I know that I’ll be leaving this newsroom and this school with something to show for myself and with an impact on others.

I look forward to having a social life, but I find comfort in the fact that I’ll always know the passcode to the door leading up to the office. I have already reassured everyone that I will visit the newsroom and act as an unpaid personality hire. Gaston doesn’t plan on stepping down from his Edit-Dog-in-Chief position, either.

This isn’t a goodbye, it’s a see you later, so I’ll end this column with what I say every evening as I leave the newsroom — 

Goodnight, Daily Tar Heel.

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Kennedy Cox

Kennedy Cox is the 2023-24 photo editor at The Daily Tar Heel She has previously served as co-editor of the photo desk. Kennedy is a senior pursuing a political science degree.