The Daily Tar Heel

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The Daily Tar Heel
Front page, April 21, 2006
Front page, April 21, 2006
Type Daily campus newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner(s) DTH Media Corp
Publisher DTH Media Corp
Editor Jane Wester
Managing editors Hannah Smoot, Danny Nett, José Valle, Sarah Vassello
Founded February 23, 1893
Language English
Headquarters Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Circulation 38,000
ISSN 1070-9436

The Daily Tar Heel (DTH) is the independent student newspaper of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It was founded on February 23, 1893, and became a daily newspaper in 1929.[1] The paper places a focus on university news and sports, but it also includes heavy coverage of Orange County and North Carolina. It is published five days a week during the school year and weekly during the university's two summer school sessions. All editorial content is overseen by student editors and a volunteer student staff of about 250 people. It is the largest news organization in Orange County.


The Daily Tar Heel circulates 18,000 free copies to more than 200 distribution locations throughout campus and in the surrounding community -- Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham.[2] Its estimated print readership of 38,000 makes it the largest community newspaper in Orange County.[2] Revenues from advertising are self-generated through a student-run advertising staff.

The student journalists are solely responsible for all content under the direction of the student editor-in-chief. The 2016-17 editor is Jane Wester.[3] A new editor is selected each spring and serves for one year. The editor is the public face of the paper and hires the rest of the editorial staff, which includes a managing editor and editors for each of the newsroom's sections desk.

The paper employs seven full-time professionals, about 75 paid part-time students, and more than 150 student volunteer writers.[2] The student editor has full control over the editorial content of the paper. Business matters are overseen by a full-time, professional general manager, Betsy O'Donovan; a board of directors serves as publisher and has final say over matters such as the newspaper's budget.[4]

Early history[edit]

Front page of the first issue of The Tar Heel, later renamed to The Daily Tar Heel

The newspaper was first published on February 23, 1893 as a four-page weekly tabloid called The Tar Heel. It aimed to promote "the thorough discussion of all points pertaining to the advancement and growth of the University."[5] Funded by the campus athletic association, it placed much of its emphasis on campus sports and Greek life and boasted of 250 subscribers.[5]

By 1920, the paper's size had increased to 6 pages, and under editor Thomas Wolfe the paper moved to a twice-a-week format in September 1920.[1] In 1923, it came out from under the auspices of the athletic association and became governed by the Student Publications Union Board, which at the time was in charge of all campus publications. Students paid a fee of $5.50 to fund the publications.[1] Publication increased to three days in 1925 and published the first summer edition in 1927.[1] The student body voted in favor of increasing funding to the DTH in 1929 in a vote of 666 to 128.[1] The vote enabled the paper, then led by editor Walter Spearman, to publish six times a week.[6] The paper changed its name to The Daily Tar Heel.

In 1943, the paper scaled back publication to twice weekly.[1] In 1946, The Daily Tar Heel returned to daily publication with the goal of becoming, in the words of student editors, "the greatest college newspaper in the world."[1]

The famous broadcaster Charles Kuralt, who was DTH editor in 1954, wrote in his book A Life on the Road of being called "a pawn of the Communists" on the floor of the state legislature after the newspaper published a spoof edition critical of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. The state legislature formed a committee in 1955 to "investigate quality and circulation problems at the DTH."[6]


In the 1970s and 1980s, student editors used the paper's front-page quote to agitate many on campus; selections included Nietzsche's "God is dead."[6] The paper's use of student fees was called into question in July 1972, when four students filed suit against the paper.[7] The students objected to the use of student fees used to publish articles they did not agree with. The DTH collected donations to pay for its legal defense, and ultimately won an assurance of at least 16 percent of all student fees in 1977.[1] An independent publishing board was also established, though the paper's budget remained tied to the Student Congress for yearly approval.

In 1989, the DTH incorporated as a separate educational 501(c)(3) non-profit entity.[1] The paper voluntarily stopped taking student fee money in 1993, making it completely financially independent from the University for the first time.[1] That allowed the DTH to begin its current process of allowing an 11-member committee of staffers and community members to select the next editor.[2] Previously, the position had been filled in campuswide elections. Peter Wallsten was the last DTH editor selected by campuswide elections.[5]

Recent years[edit]

The DTH office.

On November 19, 1994, the DTH became one of the first newspapers of any kind to publish an online edition.[1]

After 1,500 copies of the Carolina Review were stolen in 1996, the DTH fought for access to the accused students' Honor Court hearings.[8] The state Supreme Court's 1998 ruling established the Honor Court as a public body.[8]

The paper published a column in 2005 by student Jillian Bandes that supported the racial profiling of Arabs at airports — a piece that began with the line, "I want all Arabs to be stripped naked and cavity-searched if they get within 100 yards of an airport.".[9] The column made national headlines and ultimately led to the columnist's dismissal, but officially only for her quoting a source in a manner considered out-of-context.[9] A few months later, in the midst of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, it published a cartoon depicting the Prophet appearing to decry both sides in the debate. Both pieces sparked loud debate on campus. The cartoon was a popular local-news item and prompted a few dozen protesters to stage sit-ins in the DTH newsroom.[10]

During the summer of 2010, the newsroom moved out of the student union and into a 6,489-square-foot (602.8 m2) office a block away from campus, at 151 E. Rosemary Street.[11] The move doubled the amount of office space available to staff and placed the paper one-tenth of a mile away from its original 1893 office.[11] Previously, the staff worked out of the Frank Porter Graham Student Union and paid rent to the University.

In October 2010, The Daily Tar Heel joined a coalition of eight media organizations in a lawsuit against UNC for public records.[12] The lawsuit concerns records related to UNC's investigation into alleged improper relationships with athletic agents and academic misconduct surrounding the football team.

The DTH has a long-standing bet with editors of The Chronicle (Duke University). When the two schools' men's basketball teams play, the losing school's paper must run its masthead in the other school's color. The losing school's paper must also place the winning school's logo on their editorial page and declare the winning school is "still the best."[13]

Accolades and awards[edit]

The DTH has been recognized as one of the best college newspapers in the country, named the best college newspaper by The Princeton Review in 2007 and 2010. The Associated Collegiate Press has rewarded it with National Pacemaker Awards for excellence in college journalism. In 2005 the newspaper won Pacemakers for its 2004-05 print and online editions. The "DTH" also won the Pacemaker award for 2007-08.[14] Most recently, the DTH won the Pacemaker award for 2012-13 for both print and online editions.[15] The paper also has won numerous Mark of Excellence awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, and its advertising and business staff is often recognized as the best in the country by College Newspaper Business and Advertising Managers, Inc.

The DTH staff also wins awards in competitions against professional newspapers in North Carolina. Since 2001, the newspaper has won more than a half-dozen awards from the North Carolina Press Association for its photography, newswriting, and design. It has also won more than two dozen first-place advertising awards in its division, which comprises paid dailies with circulations between 15,000 and 34,999. Twice in the last five years the newspaper has placed third in the state in its coverage of higher education—ahead of professional newspapers in education-rich areas such as Charlotte and Greensboro.

In February 2011, the paper was awarded the second place NCPA general excellence award for its division, becoming the first college paper in the state to earn a general excellence award.[16] The paper also placed first in the state for its higher education coverage.[17]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k History of the Daily Tar Heel, DTH Media. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  2. ^ a b c d About us, DTH Media, Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c Daily Tar Heel celebrates 114 years, DTH Media. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  6. ^ a b c Campus newspaper continues to evolve, DTH Media. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  7. ^ Tar Heel Link, UNC Libraries, Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  8. ^ a b The Daily Tar Heel v. The University of North Carolina and the UNC-CH Undergraduate Court Retrieved 2011-02-03
  9. ^ a b UNC student fired for 'malpractice' in column on Arabs USA Today, Retrieved 2011-02-03
  10. ^ UNC's student paper is the target of sit-in The (Raleigh) News & Observer, Retrieved 2011-02-03
  11. ^ a b Daily Tar Heel departs for downtown DTH Media, Retrieved 2011-02-03.
  12. ^ Media organizations file suit against UNC officials DTH Media, Retrieved 2011-02-03
  13. ^ Carolina-Duke rivalry
  14. ^ 2008 ACP Newspaper Pacemaker Winners Associated Collegiate Press, Retrieved 2011-02-03
  15. ^ [1] The Daily Tar Heel, Retrieved 2015-05-20
  16. ^ 2011 North Carolina Press Association General Excellence Awards North Carolina Press Association, Retrieved 2011-02-18
  17. ^ Daily Tar Heel Wins Annual Award For Coverage Of N.C. Higher Ed, Duke University, Retrieved 2011-02-18
  18. ^ Hansmire, Suzanne (Fall 2006). "An interview with Howie Carr". Wellesley Weston. Retrieved February 15, 2012. 

External links[edit]