Last year’s teen editor becomes first to attend UNC


Posing in front of UNC’s Wilson Library, Brooklynn Cooper is the first teen editor-in-chief of the Durham VOICE to attend UNC-CH. (Staff photo by Danny Nett)

Brooklyn Cooper is now the first Teen Editor-in-Chief of the Durham VOICE to attend UNC-Chapel Hill. Danny Nett, the VOICE’s social media editor, sat down with Cooper to discuss how she likes Carolina so far and how her time on the VOICE and Northern High School’s newspaper, the Northern Round Table, influenced her decision to pursue journalism.

DV: When did you start working for Durham VOICE? How’d you get involved?

BC: When school started, so like September my senior year. Last summer Jock emailed me and he was like — he kinda asked me, but he was like, ‘I’m telling you you’re gonna be the teen editor.’ And I felt like I already knew Jock because he’d come visit my journalism class over the years and help us out and stuff.

DV:What position did you hold on your paper?

BC: My freshman year I was just a staff reporter, and then sophomore year I did design and layout. And then junior and senior year I was editor-in-chief.

DV: What was your favorite thing you’ve ever reported on or written?

BC: My junior year we got a new principal, and he was an assistant principal and before that he was a math teacher. So he’d been at the school a long time, and a lot of people loved him. But there were a lot of changes going on with administration just cause like shifting principals. So I wrote this just like Q&A style. I feel like it was helpful to a lot of students because they had a lot of questions about new policies going on and school administration. It was really relevant. I got him to answer a lot of their questions.

DV: Did you grow up in Durham, or did you move around?

BC: No, I’ve been in Durham my entire life. I don’t know if you know the Durham area very well, but it’s like my elementary, middle and high school are all on the same road. And I live like five minutes from all those schools. And I’ve lived in the same house since I was 2.

DV: How would you describe Durham to somebody who’s never been there?

BC: Wow, that’s like a really good question. I feel like I really love Durham just because Durham all over is diverse — my high school was too. We had a lot of African-Americans and Hispanics and then also like, people who are from the boonies. Also downtown Durham is really cool. There’s a ton of restaurants — I haven’t even been to half of them. But like they also have cool shops down there, even if you just walk around American Tobacco, downtown is really cool. One of my closest friends in a photography class shot around a lot of Durham, and we got on the parking decks downtown and just looking over the city was so cool.

DV: What’s your experience been at Carolina so far?

BC: Even before I came here, I was always like, ‘Oh my, God, UNC.’ But once I came here, it was even better, like yesterday at the game and all during Week of Welcome. I think it’s cool how there’s so much stuff here for like every type of person, so you can never feel like you’re excluded.

DV: Did you have any interest in going to Duke?

BC: No. I don’t know. I feel like it’s so close to home — that’s not even, I feel like if UNC was near my house I’d still go — but like I got a different vibe from Duke’s campus. I feel like a lot of people here are so nice even if you don’t know them, you can just talk to them in the Pit. But I feel like at Duke they’re exclusive, and I don’t know. I don’t get the same feeling I get from here.

DV: How did you choose UNC?

BC: I’ve been coming here for campus and stuff since I was like a freshman in high school, so I kind of got a taste for the campus and Chapel Hill atmosphere. And I just really liked it. Everything about the school, and I didn’t know back then I wanted to major in journalism. Just like the J-School obviously is a big deciding factor.

DV: Did working on the Durham VOICE or your high school newspaper influence that?

BC: My journalism class mostly. With my journalism class in high school it was like everything was right there in my face. That’s how I kind of got my first taste of working for a publication.

DV: You just joined The Daily Tar Heel. What made you decide to do that?

BC: I thought it’d be cool, it’s an actual paper, you know? My photography teacher worked as a photographer for the DTH, and she really encouraged me. She was like, ‘I’m sure you’d really enjoy it.’ I already wanted to do it, but her saying that made me push toward it.

I was so excited when I saw my name on the glass when I went to check (to see if I got in). And like I called my mom and was like, ‘I made the DTH!’ I felt like I got a job or something. I felt official, like, “I’m on the DTH now.’ I stood there for 10 minutes just looking at my name, and like someone came up and was like, ‘Are you waiting for something?’ and I was like, ‘No I’m just, I’m just standing here. Looking at the glass.’

DV: Did you ever have a defining moment where you knew you wanted to do journalism?

BC: I think it was gradual because even like my junior year in high school when I was editor-in-chief, people would ask if I wanted to do journalism in college and I’d be like, ‘Probably not.’ Not because I didn’t like it, but because sometimes you do stuff just because you enjoy it. I don’t know that there was a time I was like, ‘I am going to do journalism.’ I feel like especially at freshman orientation, they push that you don’t have to know what you’re going to do, but you should major in something you enjoy. I enjoy it a lot, and I think I’m pretty good at it, so I think that’s a good combination.

DV: Do you know what you want to do in journalism in the future?

BC: I don’t know. I think anything would be real cool. I like working on newspapers, and a magazine would be cool, too. I feel like anything I’d like to do. I love Durham-Chapel Hill, I love N.C. in general, but I feel like a big city — I’m pretty open to whatever.

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