Daily Tar Heel
If you’ve never worked in a student newsroom, let me set the stage. It’s loud and chaotic — there’s normally a sports writer in the corner throwing a ball of some sort against a wall, and an arts reporter is blasting the newest single for the office to hear. The tables are littered with takeout containers, because no one really leaves the office. But when news breaks, there’s nowhere you’d rather be, surrounded by fellow journalists working above and beyond to bring the news to the student body.
Before I officially accepted my offer to attend UNC, I knew I wanted to write for the Daily Tar Heel. The first week of college, I applied to write for the city desk. They welcomed me into the newsroom, and I began writing about Chapel Hill and Carrboro. It was at the DTH that I learned what it means to be a reporter and how to navigate a newsroom, and it’s where I made some of my closest friends.
As a sophomore, I became an assistant city editor. I helped to lead a desk of 25+ writers, ranging from seniors in the journalism school to first-years who had never picked up a newspaper in their life. I pitched stories, attended budget meetings, and was the first set of eyes on all incoming stories on the city beat. In this position, I learned how to be a leader, how to balance multiple deadlines and memorized the AP Stylebook.
It was a tough year. The first week on the job, massive protests broke out against Silent Sam, a confederate statue on UNC’s campus. Later that semester, we covered a suspected car bomb in Carrboro. There were numerous ICE raids and hate crimes against local nonprofits. In November, we were tasked with covering elections in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Orange County and Durham. On top of editing three to five stories each day, I wrote my own front-page features on the achievement gap in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, third-shift workers and on Uber drivers servicing unruly college students.
My time at the DTH came to an end at the end of my sophomore year. The following semester, I left to study abroad in Sevilla, Spain. When I returned, I made the difficult decision to expand my skills in podcasting and long-form reporting, but the skills learned at the DTH were imperative to my success as a reporter.