‘Daily Tar Hell’ Disappears: NC State Student Newspaper Kills Annual UNC Spoof Issue

For the past week, Sam DeGrave has been in a hell of his own making. The editor-in-chief of The Technician at North Carolina State University recently decided not to publish a 2014 version of The Daily Tar Hell, a spoof issue mocking its neighbor and rival the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Vitriol and calls for his firing have ensued.

According to the paper, “Since the 1980s, Technician editors have conspired to make fun of UNC-Chapel Hill and the town of Chapel Hill in the annual edition of The Daily Tar Hell, a satirical riff on The Daily Tar Heel, the student-run newspaper at UNC. Some years, the Tech guys pulled it off; others, it all fell through. The Tar Hell [has] embodied the rivalry between the two schools.”

In response, the Daily Tar Heel’s perspective: “We like to joke that for at least one day a year their paper looks nice, since they copy our style to make it look authentic.

Last week, DeGrave told current Daily Tar Heel editor-in-chief Nicole Comparato the Technician staff was simply too busy to put together the satirical issue this year. The reaction of some NC State (and UNC) students and alumni: Oh, Hell no.

As Graves wrote yesterday in a letter to readers, “Using Facebook comments, tweets, letters to the editor, discussion boards and blog posts, perturbed students and alumni alike attacked my excuse that we were ‘too busy’ to produce the DTH, calling it ‘weak,’ ‘shameful’ and a reason enough to fire the entire staff of the Technician ‘from the editor down the line.’ … I’ve been told I ‘owe fans, students, and alumni an apology.'”

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A sampling of critics on one online forum:

“I remember being in middle school when my brother went to State. He brought home a copy of the Daily Tar Hell, and I thought it was the funniest thing I ever read. I remember there was a picture of [former UNC basketball coach] Dean Smith on the toilet wearing panty hose and smoking a cigarette. Can’t believe they didn’t do one this year. … Tear down the offices — we don’t need the Technician anymore. … I think it’s time to put a new person in charge of the Technician. … My guess is this person is lazy and not creative enough to come up with a good issue. … Yep that little **** needs his *** canned.”

Yet, DeGrave has not been swayed by the criticisms one iota, at least not publicly. He is defiantly unapologetic and impassioned in his stance that the satirical Hell is a stain on the Technician’s otherwise serious news legacy and a tradition built atop little more than “hateful humor.”

Bottom line, he has seen Hell (by examining past issues) and he is not going back. In his words, “The humor, if you can call it that, which the editions relied on was sexist, racist and most commonly homophobic. … The question shouldn’t be ‘Why did we kill The Daily Tar Hell?’ It should be ‘Why did we continue it for as long as we did?’”

Here are the PDF versions of the 2013, 2011 and 2010 Daily Tar Hell issues.

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