With the pandemic, UNC’s failed reopening and the 2020 election, demand for The Daily Tar Heel’s journalism hit all-time highs in fall 2020. Despite all the challenges that came with the pandemic, we gave you news through print, texts, social media, emails and even TikTok.
The pandemic exacerbated the decline of print advertising, an ongoing trend for our newsroom and the industry, but people kept coming to our news because it helped them, brought some joy or added necessary information to an important conversation.
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Thanks to support from our donors and a bevy of political advertising before the 2020 election, we sustained our three-day-a-week printing schedule during the fall semester when many college newspapers across the country couldn’t.
But faced with another mostly virtual semester and a struggling local economy, we had to make a difficult choice as we prepared for the spring:
The Daily Tar Heel is moving to weekly print production.
This is the right decision for our newsroom and for our audience. We recognize that you still want to be able to hold a print paper for milestones, like historic news or even the day after we beat Duke. But the majority of the UNC community won’t be walking through campus this semester, so by shifting our focus away from print, we can concentrate more resources to make our digital news even more relevant and helpful.
We started doing that last year with our University news podcast, Heel Talk, our “What Just Happened” series on Instagram and DTH Weekly, a newsletter that goes out to every undergraduate student each week.
Being in the boxes less often does not mean we’re giving you less news.
People still picked up our paper last semester, and we’re not going to leave them behind. We are still committed to bringing you the news you need, in whatever form best suits your needs.
Our new weekly print edition will be different from the daily one you’re used to. It will have more pages, with extra space for long-form features and in-depth news stories, beautiful visuals and sports and culture coverage to help you plan your week and get a deeper look at the news.
And to keep up with the day-to-day, we will still bring you the latest updates and commentary five days a week on our website. Or, you can sign up for our DTH at a Glance newsletter to get this news delivered straight to your inbox each day.
Changes like this aren’t new for us. Our print advertising revenue has been declining for 12 years, and the pandemic only exacerbated this trend. While we foresee and hope that these trends will reverse when the local economy recovers, the truth is that we can’t rely on print advertising for our future.
For the last decade, we’ve been reactive when facing similar decisions. We’ve prioritized maintaining normalcy to later be blindsided by drastic budget cuts.
This time, we’re being proactive. We’re in a relatively strong position right now, so rather than kicking the can down the road and having to cut from behind later, we’re choosing to look ahead.
As we prepare for the spring semester, know The Daily Tar Heel is strong and ready to be here for you when news happens. We’ll be taking a close look at how UNC opens campus this semester as well as ongoing remote education in Orange County, how the basketball team fares with all of its new recruits and more.
You’ll find us in our blue boxes on campus and around Chapel Hill each Wednesday starting on Jan. 20, and you can find us every day on our website, in your inbox and on social media.
As always: print news, raise
Anna PogarcicAnna Pogarcic is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Tar Heel. She is a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill studying journalism and history major.
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