Meet the Latest Media Start-up: The Daily Tar Heel | News

Meet the Latest Media Start-up: The Daily Tar Heel


  • Alex Maness

North Carolina’s newest newspaper start-up is the 123-year-old Daily Tar Heel.

Yep, you read that right. The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's student newspaper is rebranding itself in response to continued financial losses. Betsy O’Donovan, the DTH’s general manager, said the paper has been operating at a deficit since 2011.

“In recent years, the annual deficit has hovered north of $200,000. When I was hired earlier this month, our investment accounts were just below $400,000,” O’Donovan wrote on Medium. 

So the solution to that deficit? Do what the DTH has always done, but do it differently (but also ask for donations).

In her post, O’Donovan said new sections will appear in the print edition—including announcements like engagements, wedding and obituaries. The paper will also provide “new or expanded services” set to launch in 2017. That means if the pilot phase is successful, the DTH will launch its own “creative services agency.”

While they are at it, perhaps they should get into event planning. Wait. What's that? They already had that idea?

“Our focus, as always, is on public service, storytelling and education. These events —many of which will be free to the people who attend—reflect that our readership includes students, professors, and longtime residents and neighbors,” O’Donovan wrote.

While the DTH is preparing for it’s new start-up culture, it’s also changing the “daily” aspect of its name. It will no longer publish on Tuesdays—choosing to, instead, drive readers online for more complete content.

“We want to deliver powerful, fascinating stories that use the full potential of video, audio, images and words,” O’Donovan wrote.

But the innovations don't stop there—which brings us to "Swerve."

The answer to your question is, "Yes." You read that right. It's "Swerve"—a new online-only section DTH editor-in-chief Jane Wester told us about in the paper's first issue of the year.

“Everything you would have found in the print paper will be online on Tuesdays, along with stories we’re not able to tell in print—stories with major video, audio or interactive components,” Wester wrote of the decision to not publish on Tuesday. 

All of these developments sure seem like more of a rebranding than a "start-up," but maybe we should just let them have it. I mean, being the first newspaper start-up in the state is pretty cool.

What? You mean this isn't the first newspaper start-up in the state? Way to steal the DTH's thunder, North State Journal.

If you’re not familiar with the NSJ, that’s OK. We’ll get you caught up.

Last fall it was announced that former N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources officials were launching a statewide newspaper.

Yeah. We rolled our eyes too.

Publisher Neal Robbins has been tight-lipped about the funding sources, but has said former Secretary John Skvarla has had no involvement with it. While it was announced in the fall, the NSJ ramped up production and started publishing print editions on Sunday and launched its website.

And in other newspaper news, in July, Duke University's student newspaper the Chronicle announced it would be making changes of its own. Starting next week it will only be printed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. And like the DTH, on days it isn't printing they'll focus content online.

There's no word yet if the 111-year-old Chronicle will counter the DTH's "Swerve" with it's own version. Might we suggest "Veer"? 

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