Caitlyn Yaede is committed to local newsrooms and their communities.
“Local news is the best news because it’s able to cover regions in a way national newspapers cannot,” said Yaede, The Daily Tar Heel opinion editor and UNC-Chapel Hill senior.
Local journalism that investigates the nitty gritty parts of a community are important, Yaede said — one of the reasons why Yaede has joined CISLM as an intern this semester. She’s currently covering innovative and successful ways local news leaders are changing for the better.
Yaede says she hopes to leave CISLM as a more thoughtful journalist by watching publishers and writers think critically about their work. During the UNC-Knight Table Stakes, a training program for local publications in the Southeast, Yaede watched seasoned publishers and journalists come together to help each other reach their goals, including working with a grassroots newsletter writer with strategy tools to more effectively reach their audience.
Yaede, from Mooresville, is a political science and journalism double major and is finishing up her master’s in public policy. Yaede’s care for people drives her commitment to local news, said Daily Tar Heel General Manager Courtney Mitchell.
“Caitlyn is most concerned with highlighting voices that have been buried, marginalized and unheard,” she said. “It does not surprise me that she has ended up at CISLM because Caitlyn is a very mission-driven person.”
Yaede’s first piece as opinion editor called out a journalism faculty member for being surprised over the downgrade of the journalism school’s accreditation status due to diversity, equity and inclusion issues. Yaede argued it shouldn’t have been a surprise, due to complaints by students of color, the Nicole Hannah Jones tenure controversy and the fact that there is only one Black woman faculty member with tenure.
“I like the ability to use my platform to say to people who are in positions of power that you are actively doing something wrong and pretending that you’re not being negligent is adding on to the harms already done,” Yaede said.
For the past three years, Yaede has played a critical role in DTH opinion coverage of Chapel Hill.
“She cares very much about those two, sometimes one, (opinion) pages that are in the newspaper,” Mitchell said. Mitchell added that Yaede meticulously assesses how the opinion page can engage the audience, be more inclusive and serve readers.
For example, Yaede found cartoonists and introduced a mad-lib in a recent publication. “She’s trying to give people a place where they can read the opinions of others and come away with new, different or sharpened perspectives,” Mitchell said.
Heidi Pérez-Moreno, a friend and co-diversity, equity and inclusion officer at the DTH, said Yaede has sound news judgement and an admirable independence. Yaede, along with others, organized a sit-in protest when the Genocide Awareness Project came to Chapel Hill. “She’s very leader mentality,” Pérez-Moreno said.
Pérez-Moreno said that Yaede cares deeply about the people around her and ensures her assistant editor and writers feel supported.
“Caitlyn is very good at prioritizing her work but not letting that close her off to the rest of the office,” she said. Pérez-Moreno smiled when sharing how Yaede brought her a care package when she was sick. “She’s a very lovely person and usually likes to crack a joke.”