Dear Mirror Readers,
I want to begin by welcoming you to campus. Whether it’s your first time here or your last year of college, this is an exciting time for everyone.
But it’s no secret that the excitement we all feel walking on campus is tinged with a lot of uncertainty and fear surrounding national events. Some are afraid of globalization and a changing world, while others are afraid of the actions those people want to execute. Everyone is on edge.
One bright spot in all the chaos, at least for people like me, is that the news industry is perfectly positioned for a Renaissance of sorts, but only if the people responsible for presenting the news are willing to change. For a long time I don’t think the Mirror was prepared to make the major shifts in the way we do things that are necessary to stay relevant, but now bills are piling up, readership and revenues are down, and we face a choice: adapt or die.
We have spent the last decade trying to sell a print product to an almost exclusively digital generation, and the tacky cookie-cutter website we used to use to share stories on Facebook is no longer satisfactory. In order to reach millennials where they live, our production manager, Logan Garcia, and our news editor, Jason Keller, spent the summer building an entirely new website. This site, which, unlike our last one, is mobile friendly, is going to be the new front page of the Mirror, and we plan to use it throughout each week to keep our work in your feed on a consistent basis.
In order to facilitate this focus on digital news, we will begin publishing a monthly longform newspaper filled with features, opinions and investigations, rather than a weekly print product. This was a tough decision for us, but we believe that, to bring you news about UNC in the best way possible, it has to be delivered in the way you consume news, not in the way it has always been provided. Our hope is that you will continue to read our print publication every month, while also checking our website or clicking our social media posts on a daily basis.
There’s only so much a medium can do though. Ultimately, the best thing we can do to make you want to click on our stories is to write stories you want to click on. The Mirror has been a bit too comfortable in our coverage in recent years. We would flock to topics that were easy and shy away from the ones that were hard, despite the fact that the difficult stories are usually the best, and the most important to our readers. Take our coverage of overflow in on-campus housing (which is happening again this year), or our story about the Donald Trump rally, held at UNC nine days before he was elected.
Those were some of my favorite pieces last year, but there were other areas that we could’ve done much better. Our coverage of the Campus Commons, one of the most divisive subjects on campus at the moment, has been sorely lacking, and it’s my hope to change that. In truth, there are dozens of topics that we haven’t suitably explored, and dozens that I hope to cover more intensely. We need to get leaner and meaner, and focus more on getting in people’s faces and asking tough questions.
Finally, in order to make the Mirror a place to share thoughts and opinions among students, we’re implementing a new editorial section. Our new op-ed editor, Drew Heiderscheidt, has been writing news stories and columns since he arrived at UNC, and now he’s going to help others do the same, by reaching out to members of the campus community and encouraging them to share their words with readers. These people could include professors talking about their latest research, administrators explaining their actions and decisions, student government representatives, and perhaps most importantly, students of UNC. If you have an opinion, let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
The Mirror’s best asset, its niche, is that it will publish stories that no one else will. UNC students can go to the Washington Post for national news, or the Greeley Tribune for updates about the town, but only the Mirror cares about your tuition fees, how the president is representing you, or whether you’re getting your money’s worth from living on campus.
I’ve worked at the Mirror since my first year at UNC, and as I start my last, my hope is that I’m able to leave the Mirror on strong footing. The Mirror is a beautiful thing. It’s a place that students can turn to and get vital information about what is, in essence, a small, self-sufficient town, and it’s a place where wannabe journalists like me can go and write when no one else will have us. I desperately want it to succeed, but if it does, it will be because people like you went to our site, clicked on our Facebook posts or picked up our paper. I hope we can make something worthy of your attention.