Daily Tar Heel Attempts To Solve Financial Difficulty

The clock is ticking for the Daily Tar Heel, as the 123-year-old newspaper attempts to solve the biggest problem facing modern journalism – finances.

“We have about two years of money in our savings account, if we didn’t save anything, before we run out of money,” new general manager Betsy O’Donovan said.

She said the DTH has been running a revenue deficit since 2011. That deficit has reached over $200,000.

This has resulted in a number of changes for the current school year, including offering the print edition of the paper four days per week instead of five.

The DTH will stop running Tuesday versions of the print paper, but O’Donovan said it will bring the Tuesday edition back when major events like a basketball game or an election occur.

Editor-in-Chief Jane Wester said her goal is to get the newspaper to continue to push its digital platform.

“We’re forced by money into doing this digital-only edition once a week, but we’ll never really learn to do that well unless we focus on that every day,” Wester said.

The problems facing UNC’s student newspaper are hardly unique to Chapel Hill.

As the importance of the internet continues to expand, print advertisement, which is the primary moneymaker for newspapers, becomes less valuable.

O’Donovan said it is the job of newspapers everywhere to figure out their role in this new landscape.

“One thing that has been a huge challenge for every news organization is figuring out how to integrate themselves into a platform like Facebook or Twitter,” she said. “How do we have a meaningful presence there and connect with readers and viewers?”

As part of this learning process, the DTH will be experimenting with new ways of presenting its content to readers, including offering obituaries and wedding announcements and making a mobile app available to smartphone users.

“We’re going to be 125 in 2018,” O’Donovan said. “What we’re doing now is building out the future for the next 125 generations of the Daily Tar Heel.”


UNC’s Daily Grind Closes After 23 Years

The sound of the Daily Grind’s espresso machine is ringing through the UNC Student Store for the last time on Friday. It has been serving students and visitors from the little corner shop since 1993 – nearly 23 years.

But that legacy has come to an end.

“It had a great, very long-lasting reign and I’m sad that it’s closing,” said UNC student and Daily Grind barista Emily Lowery.

The debate whether to privatize the UNC Student Store ended in April when Barnes and Noble College Booksellers closed the $30 million deal to purchase the historically university-run store.

“It was my first job and I can honestly say that it’s the best first job that anyone could have,” Lowery said. “Our boss is the sweetest person you’ll ever meet.”

Owner Jane Brown started the Daily Grind as a small coffee cart in the pit one summer. She focused on bringing local coffees and pastries to campus, partnering with Counter Culture Coffee in Durham and the Mediterranean Deli.

But when news broke that the Student Store was being privatized, Brown was one of the last to know The Daily Grind’s contract would not be renewed. Brown, along with her employees, found out through the Daily Tar Heel.

“I didn’t actually hear it from my boss, and she didn’t hear it from management or anything. She read it in the newspaper; we read it in the newspaper. That’s how we knew we were closing.”

The news was a shock to Brown and many of the employees who were told by former Student Stores manager, John Gorsuch, that the Daily Grind could join other vendors in bidding for the coffee shop’s contract when it ran out in June of this year.

“We thought that we were gonna stick around because at the beginning we were told that the Daily Grind wasn’t going to be affected. So it was a shock to find out.”

Even more shocking, Lowery said, was the abrupt change of the shop’s closing date.

“At first they told us that we were going to close on June 24th but now three weeks ago they told us we were going to close on June 10th and that was so sudden. So it was just very abrupt.”

Brad Ives is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Enterprises and said in a statement that Barnes and Noble College will be arranging for coffee service at the Student Stores in the future. They plan to expand the new area to create a central hub for campus activity.

But for now, UNC must say goodbye to the Daily Grind’s signature “magical mochas” and local blends.


President Spellings: What Should Her Agenda Be For UNC?

2016 has been a tumultuous year for UNC – with protests still ongoing against new system president Margaret Spellings, even before she’s had a chance to get into the job.

Will she be able to do her job, with those demonstrations continuing? What do university leaders see as being her agenda as system president? And what do they think she can – and should – try to accomplish?

“I think she’s absolutely going to be able to do her job,” said UNC-Chapel Hill faculty chair Bruce Cairns at last week’s WCHL Community Forum.

Cairns added that he doesn’t expect Spellings to pursue an agenda much removed from what we’ve seen before. “When you listen to President Spellings talk about what she would like to see happen,” he said, “I think it’s really about allowing us to continue to be a great public university system.”

But what agenda should Margaret Spellings be pursuing as system president? What should she be trying to do?

UNC senior Hayley Fowler is a reporter for the Daily Tar Heel who’s been following the controversy from the beginning; she says Spellings needs to assure students that they do have a voice in how the university is run.

“I think for students, it’s becoming increasingly important that she continue to build their trust and reach out to them personally,” she says. “The students that have been protesting don’t feel that they have a voice and they haven’t had access to the Board of Governors or Margaret Spellings herself…

“I think they’re working on opening that line of communication and dialogue, and that’s something that should be a priority moving forward, if they want to engage students in the conversation.”

But it’s not just students who want to build stronger relationships. Durham Tech president Bill Ingram says there’s also an expectation that Spellings should be working to build closer ties between the UNC system and North Carolina’s community colleges.

“She’s not the only new higher-education leader in North Carolina – Jimmie Williamson will be the new community college system president on July 1,” Ingram says. “Her ability to work with Dr. Williamson and others, and for her to encourage relationships between the (UNC) campuses and the community colleges, will be essential to her success.”

Even if Spellings is able to forge those relationships, it’s not likely the protests and demonstrations will be going away anytime soon. Many in the UNC system say they see Spellings’ appointment as political – Republicans on the Board of Governors selecting one of their own – and that concern is never going to go away, regardless of what Spellings does or doesn’t do on the job.

But is a political appointment necessarily a bad thing? John Locke Foundation communications director Mitch Kokai says there may be a benefit to having a Republican as UNC system president, even if the university’s agenda doesn’t change.

“Margaret Spellings comes in as someone that the Republicans who run the General Assembly will listen to,” he says. “I think a lot of folks (in the NCGA) saw Tom Ross as part of the Democratic establishment…(and) there was always a level of distrust that they won’t have with Margaret Spellings…

“And so I think she may come in, not even have any major, drastic differences in what she wants to see for the UNC system – but you’ll see doors be opened more often, just because of her pedigree.”

Kokai, Ingram, Fowler and Cairns made those comments during the “Higher Education” panel of the WCHL Community Forum. Revisit the entire forum here.


UNC: Under Wraps? Transparency Still A Major Concern

In the wake of the NCAA investigation and last year’s Wainstein Report, citizens and journalists alike have called for more transparency from officials at UNC.

How well has UNC answered the call?

Joel Curran is UNC’s Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs. He took that position shortly after Carol Folt became chancellor in 2013 – and he says UNC’s done a much better job with transparency since Folt arrived on campus.

“Perhaps we (weren’t) as strong on that prior to the arrival of Chancellor Folt,” he says. “I think what she brought was a much stronger commitment to (being) out and open, making sure that we are as transparent as possible.”

Whether or not there’s been improvement, though, not everyone is satisfied with the current state of affairs.

“(UNC) is the university of the people, so we believe that the people should have the access to the records that they want,” says Daily Tar Heel editor-in-chief Jenny Surane. “The time it takes for us to get records – and in some cases the lack of access to certain records – we just don’t believe that that’s right.”

Beyond access to records, reporters have also complained that Chancellor Folt herself is far more guarded – and far less accessible to the media – than any of her predecessors in the chancellor’s role.

Joel Curran downplays that concern. “When you start to talk about a folksy time when the chancellor was able to take callers on the porch…I think you’re going back to a rotary phone era,” he says. “It’s a different time that we’re living in, and the chancellor runs a major enterprise…

“It’s not that she doesn’t want to speak to the media, it’s that she wants to be able to have a process in place so that she can be more responsive – and I think anybody who is in a chancellor’s role who puts themselves out there as often as she does is being very responsive to the media.”

But Jenny Surane says while Folt is often available for a quote or two, staff at the DTH – and students in general – are hoping for more in the way of substance.

“We would like to know more about how the chancellor feels about different things (happening) on campus,” she says. “I think that she is in an incredible position of power and that she is a really great thought leader for students, (and) I think that a statement from Chancellor Folt that says more than just ‘we’re disappointed that the Poverty Center has closed’ would mean so much to students and really guide campus thought…

“She’s told us in the past that she leads by consensus building – and I think that’s admirable, but I do think there are some instances where the University is clearly being preyed upon, (where) she could easily make a stand and have the entire student body behind her. And certainly have the Daily Tar Heel’s editorial (staff) behind her.”

The DTH published a piece on this issue Friday morning.

Curran and Surane made their comments during the “UNC Under Fire” panel of the 2015 WCHL Community Forum.

Listen to the full panel here.


DTH Editor-In-Chief Looks Ahead In 2014-15

The Daily Tar Heel’s new Editor-in-Chief, Jenny Surane, took over officially on Saturday, and as classes began at UNC, she stopped by the WCHL Studios to share what she sees is in store for the University community in 2014-15.

***Listen to the Interview***


Daily Tar Heel Editor-In-Chief Live At WCHL Tuesday

The Editor-in-Chief of UNC’s student-produced daily newspaper will finish her undergraduate career just where she started: behind the desk of the paper that is highly-regarded throughout the community.

Jenny Surane ran unopposed for the position of editor-in-chief at the Daily Tar Heel and takes over as a new school year begins. According to the DTH, Surane started with the campus newspaper in her freshman year.

The DTH has been at the forefront of nearly every major story dealing with, not only the University, but also the entire Chapel Hill-Carrboro community.

On Tuesday, Surane joins Ron Stutts and Ran Northam at 7:30 a.m. live in the WCHL Studios to discuss what her vision is for the paper in the upcoming year.


UNC Administration Quiet With DTH

The Daily Tar Heel‘s editor-in-chief for the 2013-14 school year, Nicole Comparato covered an academic scandal and reports of sexual assault on UNC’s campus, among many other things. But in her coverage, trying to get comments from first-year Chancellor Carol Folt or other administrators wasn’t always an easy endeavor.

“I think that it would benefit them more to be a little bit more open, a little more transparent, even though they’re saying this new website, Carolina Commitment, is what’s supposed to be transparent, and all that.” Comparato stated. “Of course, it’s frustrating.”

On a more personal level, Comparato spoke out about how she has witnessed the rest of the UNC student body handling these scandals. She claims that these problems are not going to be solved until the whole truth is exposed.

“I think students have been frustrated with it. I think that at the end of the day, they’ll still love the university.” Comparato explained. “But every time it gets dragged into the national headlines, and you see it on the scroll on ESPN, or something else coming up, I think it hurts a little bit. And I think that’s something that’s not going to go away.”

In her pursuits to be honest on all that has transpired with the university, Comparato says she has also encountered individuals who feel that her contributions are not impacting UNC in a positive way.

“People are always like, ‘Why do you want to expose all this stuff?’ It’s not that I necessarily want that, but I really care about this university, and I care about my degree, and I care about its reputation. So, I think it would be just better if everything was just out there, and we move on.”

Comparato stated that she is also eagerly awaiting the results of the Wainstein report, in order to finally have all of the answers.

Comparato joined Ron Stutts and Ran Northam on the WCHL Morning News Thursday to discuss her time leading the campus newspaper and her four years as a Tar Heel.

***Listen to the Interview***


Knife Wielder Committed To UNC Hospitals

Authorities say the man who was arrested for pulling a knife on a UNC student Sunday afternoon has been involuntarily committed to UNC hospitals.

According to the Daily Tar Heel, Chapel Hill resident and 31-year-old UNC graduate, Jesse Alan Kister was committed in UNC Department of Public Safety’s custody on Sunday. When he’s released, he will be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Chapel Hill Police and DPS coordinated the search for Kister. CHPD found him in The Chapel of the Cross on East Franklin Street. He was taken to the Chapel Hill Police Station and quickly turned over to DPS since the crime took place on campus.

Kister was found in possession of four knives valued at $100, according to the incident report.

Alert Carolina issued an emergency warning shortly after 4:00 p.m., when the incident first took place. Buildings on campus were locked down—including Carmichael Arena, where the UNC women’s basketball team was playing its first-round NCAA tournament game.

Alert Carolina issued the all-clear at 5:18 p.m. Sunday afternoon. There were no injuries.

The DTH interviewed one of Kister’s former professors who said he only knew Kister in the classroom and didn’t know him on a personal level.

Kister received his bachelor’s degree in information science from UNC in 2005. He also earned a master’s in health care administration in 2008 and information science in 2011.

DTH Article


The Daily Tar Heel Turns 120

CHAPEL HILL – The Daily Tar Heel celebrates its 120th birthday Saturday.

“We think it is a big deal,” says Editor-in-chief Andy Thomason. “We were called for a large portion of the 20th century the only college daily in the South, so we believe we have a very proud history of independence and journalistic integrity and excellence. We are proud to look back on 120 years of work, to do more learning and really celebrate that history.”

The Princeton Review awarded the paper with the best college newspaper award in 2010 and 2007.

The paper has not used student fees as a source of funding since 1993. Thomason says that independence was a huge step for the paper.

“It was a really big deal, because every year the staff had to go in front of Student Congress to present the budget,” says Thomason. “It was just a huge problem. Editors admitted to having pulled punches about Student Congress in coverage around budget time. So they admitted to compromising their own journalistic honesty.”

Prior to becoming independent, about $100,000 of the paper’s $600,000 budget came from student fees.

The most recent example of that independence came in 2010 when the paper joined 7 other media outlets in suing the University over public information. But Thomason says the paper was able to break stories even before becoming financially independent.

“I’ve been told by Ken Zogry, the historian who is writing a book about the history of the Daily Tar Heel, that the first one they every broke was about a cheating ring –I believe that was in the 30s,” says Thomason. “That’s just one example of how being a student at UNC has benefits because you are on the ground all the time and be able to report on your peers.”

Thomason says journalists from the Daily Tar Heel have also gone on to make further impacts in the news world.

“I could go on and on,” says Thomason, “but I think the ones that people might name most quickly are Charles Kuralt, Peter Gammons worked here, Peter Wallsten, who covers the White House for the Washington Post, Thanassis Cambanis, who’s a correspondent in the Middle East and covered the Arab Spring, and Thomas Wolfe.”

Wolfe initiated the paper’s change from a weekly to a semi-weekly in 1920. The paper became a daily in 1929.

To view a video about reflections on the paper’s birthday, click here.

News Around Town: Murphey School Radio; DTH Turns 120; Kirk Urso Memorial Match

CHAPEL HILL – The fifth Murphey School Radio Show returns to Chapel Hill Saturday for two showings to support local non-profit agencies.

The show is billed as “A Celebration of Triangle Wit, Lit, and Music”. It will feature Triangle jazz favorite John Brown, novelist Michael Parker, and editor of Our State magazine Elizabeth Hudson.

The show is completely volunteer-run and has raised more than $60,000 for non-profits in Durham and Orange counties. It also works to raise awareness about community issues.

Shows can be seen at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Saturday the Historic Murphey School on Murphey School Road in Durham. The evening show will be recorded to air at a later date on WCHL.

For tickets and more information, click here.


The Daily Tar Heel turns 120 years old Saturday.

The DTH has been self-sustaining since 1989 when it began operating solely on its advertising budget. It is also separate from the University as its student editor-in-chief, currently Andy Thomason, oversees all content.

The business operations are managed by a 12-member student majority board.

You can pick up one of the Daily Tar Heels 17,000-business-day copies at 215 throughout campus, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Chatham, and Durham.


The UNC men’s soccer team and the Columbus Crew will compete in an exhibition game Sunday at 1:00 p.m. to benefit the Crew Soccer Foundation’s Kirk Urso Memorial Fund.

Urso, a former Tar Heel, died in August of a genetic heart condition he likely did not know he had. Urso was 22.

The Urso Fund was created in late 2012 to support heart-health research and programming.

The match will take place at Macpherson Stadium in Browns Summit, N.C. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the gate. Student ticket prices will remain at $10 the day of the game.

For information on how to get tickets or to donate to the Urso Fund, click here.


Chapel Hill Transit will provide a Tar Heel Express shuttle to the UNC men’s basketball game against N.C. State on Saturday.

The shuttles will begin at 2:30 p.m. from the park and rides located at the Friday Center, Southern Village, University Mall, and Jones Ferry for the game, scheduled at noon. The Carolina Coffee shop will also have shuttles available at 138 East Franklin Street. The provided shuttles will drop off and pick up on Bowles Drive in front of the Dean Dome.

Shuttles will run every 10 to 15 minutes between the park and rides and the Smith Center and will operate for approximately 45 minutes following the game. Rides are $3 one-way or $5 round-trip.

For additional information, click here or call 919-969-4900.