UNC student newspaper’s front page goes viral with image of dramatic texts from lockdown

The image of the UNC student newspaper’s front page is getting national attention the day after a fatal shooting stunned the Chapel Hill campus.

Tuesday night, Caitlyn Yeade, The Daily Tar Heel’s print managing editor, unveiled the front page of Wednesday’s print edition on X, formerly known as Twitter.

It’s a full page of text messages sent and received by students covered the front — mostly in black type, some in red. The page starts with “Are you safe? Where are you? Are you alone?” and ends with this: “Don’t stop texting me.”

The dramatic image represented the culmination of over 24 hours of coverage provided by the independent student news outlet after the lockdown paralyzed the campus. A professor was fatally shot with a graduate student charged with first-degree murder for his death.

“I shed many tears while typing up these heart-wrenching text messages sent and received by UNC students yesterday,” Yeade wrote.

The tweet with the front page had thousands of likes, retweets and bookmarks within hours.

Like any news outlet, the staff of The Daily Tar Heel sprung into action to report on the major story of the day: sorting through conflicting updates, making decisions about when to publish details of the investigation.

But unlike other news outlets, the students were living the fear and anxiety in real time moment by moment. On the first day of the second week of classes of a new school year, they were huddled for three hours in classrooms and closets, unsure of what was happening in a classroom building in the central part of campus.

Monday afternoon, Emmy Martin, editor-in-chief of The Daily Tar Heel, tweeted a link to a story about the lockdown that had paralyzed the UNC campus in Chapel Hill.

“Currently covering the active dangerous situation on UNC’s campus, live updates posted here,” she wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, linking to a story from the university’s independent student newspaper.

She followed that with a post that showed how close she was to the situation: “I am sheltering/in lockdown in a campus building with about 30 other students.

“Atmosphere is tense, but folks are remaining calm. It’s been 2.5 hours since we received the first alert about an armed person on campus. Waiting for more information from UNC on what to do.”

Students report from lockdown

The story from the DTH, as the paper is known, reported the first campus alert at 1:04 p.m. The same story was updated at least 14 times over the course of Monday into Tuesday, and students posted live updates on X from a press conference with the chancellor and police chief.

On Tuesday, reporters and a photographer were dispatched to the Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough for the suspect’s first appearance.

They wrote about classes being canceled for the second consecutive day.

And opinion columnist Zari Taylor, a Ph.D student and instructor, wrote how today’s students have grown up in an era of shootings at schools and universities; those who survived the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting are now in college, Taylor wrote. These kinds of shootings, she wrote, have become the norm.

“Because these incidents occur so frequently, we can become desensitized and numb to them – even when they’re so close to home,” Taylor wrote. “We often want to resume a ‘normal’ after such occurrences, but how can we when there has just been so much loss? How much time is enough?”

Georgia Roda-Moorhead wrote a column about collapsing in her mother’s arms an hour away after she got the all-clear to leave her barricaded classroom. The headline of her column: “A love letter to those grieving: You are not alone.”