SmART Writer Emily Sides was named a 2017 Daily Tar Heel Watchdog Fellow

By Emily Sides

I am attending the Daily Tar Heel newspaper 124th birthday conference Friday and Saturday in Chapel Hill. I will be live-tweeting throughout the conference so feel free to follow me @trianglesides on Twitter.

I am one of ten Watchdog Fellows which are supported by Democracy Fund, a foundation started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, according to the foundation’s website. In 2015, the foundation awarded grants to American Press Institute, Bipartisan Policy Center, Center for Public Integrity, Free Press, Online News Association and more.

The Daily Tar Heel newspaper is independent from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, according to their website.

Last November the Daily Tar Heel, along with Capital Broadcasting Company, the Charlotte Observer Publishing Company and the Durham Herald Company, sued the university “for access to public records regarding sexual assault cases on campus,” according to this article by Katie Rice for the Daily Tar Heel (

Editor-In-Chief Jane Wester told Rice access to the documents is “important to hold the University accountable to its sexual assault policy.”

In the article, Wester said the newspaper’s financial independence gave them the ability to sue the university.

On Friday, UNC-Chapel Hill students and attendees will listen to a panel called “Rape and the Campus” that includes Wester. Susan King, the dean of the UNC School of Media and Journalism, will moderate the panel that includes Wester, “Duke Chronicle editor Claire Ballentine, the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Sarah Brown, Roanoke Times’ Sara Gregory, UNC media law expert Cathy Packer, and Monika Johnson Hostler of N.C. CASA about the challenge and responsibility of covering sexual assault,” according to Medium post about the conference.

Check out the full schedule of the Daily Tar Heel’s 124th Birthday Conference here: