- Print News and Raise Hell: The Daily Tar Heel and the Evolution of a Modern University by Kenneth Joel Zogry
In Print News and Raise Hell: The Daily Tar Heel and the Evolution of a Modern University, Kenneth Joel Zogry examines more than a century of reporting by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Daily Tar Heel (DTH). What began in 1893 as an organ of the University Athletic Association evolved into a chronicler of much more than sports. Indeed, the DTH's vocal and far-ranging coverage embroiled the campus newspaper in debates over institutional, state, and national issues, from campus growth, to civil rights, to electoral and cultural politics, to the highs and lows of big-time college athletics.
Zogry's thorough account reveals just how much the paper's regional, institutional, and professional environments shaped its image, content, and identity. Like that of most student-run publications, its tone and focus could and often did change from year to year, sometimes based on the individual preferences and personalities of its editors, a roll call of whom reads like a who's [End Page 478] who of American literary and journalistic giants. As students and journalists, DTH staff members consistently championed academic freedom and freedom of the press, rising up time and again against censorship and the stifling of intellectual debate. In 1925 they spoke out against legislative efforts to ban the teaching of evolution. A few years later, the paper interviewed presidential candidate Norman Thomas, describing him as "A Sociable Socialist" (p. 68). The paper issued full-throated denunciations of McCarthyism and the infamous North Carolina speaker ban. These actions drew the ire of North Carolina conservatives who cited the paper as proof that the university was home to "'crack-brained professors and baby radicals'" (p. 73).
The paper garnered this radical reputation by expressing moderately liberal views on a conservative southern campus in a conservative southern state. The limits of said radicalism appeared in a variety of cases. In the late 1940s, the DTH defended a columnist who wrote an article declaring, "Christ Was a Communist," but released him soon thereafter when he penned an editorial calling for the banning of the Confederate battle flag at Tar Heel football games (p. 125). Decades later, the newspaper offered tepid, at times tortured, responses to debates surrounding the Vietnam War, the women's movement, and LGBTQ rights. After equivocating when it came to the initial racial integration of the university, the editorial staff eventually came around, skewering segregationist ideals and rhetoric, promoting boycotts of segregated establishments, and sending reporters throughout the South who filed front-page stories lauding the work of civil rights activists in Alabama, Mississippi, and elsewhere. The paper followed a similar pattern on issues closer to home, waffling a bit when it came to renaming or removing campus buildings and monuments, including the Confederate memorial known as "Silent Sam." In these cases, the energy and activism of small yet vocal student groups such as the Real Silent Sam Coalition outpaced that of the DTH. The latter began to catch up with the former, although it will be interesting to check back on the paper's recent coverage of events surrounding the still silent and currently absent Confederate memorial.
The final pages of the book remind readers of the Daily Tar Heel's original and evolving role as both institutional booster and gadfly. Zogry reprints the front page of the July 26, 2012, edition, where, under the headline "Tracking a Scandal," the paper detailed the controversy over fraudulent classes involving student-athletes at the University of North Carolina (p. 302). Flipping the page, one finds another full-page image, this time showing a joyous Tar Heel men's basketball team celebrating its 2017 national championship under the headline "At Last, Redemption" (p. 304). Informative and accessible, Zogry's work confirms that a free, independent press remains crucial to the healthy...