The Students Behind That ‘Clusterfuck’ Headline Want You to Focus on Literally Anything Else

The college editors say they’re still waiting on answers from the University of North Carolina

Izzie Ramirez
GEN
Published in
5 min readAug 24, 2020

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UNC Chapel Hill student newspaper clipping. Headline is “UNC has a clusterfuck on its hands”
Photo illustration, image source: Paige Masten

It’s been a busy few days for journalists at The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At the start of last week, Opinion Editor Paige Masten yelled across the newsroom to ask whether it was all right to use the word “clusterfuck” in a print headline describing the university’s pandemic response.

“Go for it,” Anna Pogarcic, editor-in-chief, yelled back. “Print news, raise hell.” The next day, the newspaper front page read: “UNC has a clusterfuck on its hands.”

The student journalists at the paper had been covering the university’s rocky re-opening plan for months, and they even broke the initial story exposing the clusters of positive Covid cases on campus. Ever since the editorial ran, The Daily Tar Heel’s work has gone viral, drawing attention from the National Press Club and Anderson Cooper.

Masten and Pogarcic caught up with GEN this week to talk about the weird fixation with their headline, the next steps in their reporting, and how The Daily Tar Heel hopes to diversify.

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Izzie Ramirez
GEN
Writer for

Writing about climate, culture & comida wherever I go. Work in: GEN, Bitch Media, VICE, Jezebel, and then some. Medium’s resident Gen Z kid.