One of my favorite things to do when I’m alone is to walk through The Chronicle office in 301 Flowers as if it were my first time. Each time I do, I discover something new as 301 Flowers is a place of history. If it’s not the photos of staff members from years past, inspirational memos from previous editors or a framed front page from 1971, something will take you back to a different era of history. Most recently, I found a stylebook from 1979 with tips on how to edit and write good stories, amongst other advice. In this stylebook, there was also a short history of The Chronicle.
Founded by two literary societies, The Chronicle published its first issue on December 19, 1905, when Duke University was still called Trinity College. Back then, it was a four-page tabloid that was published weekly. After a rocky start, it grew to a bi-weekly publication in 1943 and then a daily in 1969.
This short history also includes a record of the involvement of women at The Chronicle. In 1920, the first woman was elected associate editor. In 1944, Donna Hughes became the first woman editor-in-chief of The Chronicle. By the time the stylebook was published, it had had eight women editors. As I write this column, there have been many more, including myself and my predecessor, Claire Ballentine.
I bring up the history of The Chronicle because it is so tied with the history of Duke University. Often, when we think about the value of a news organization, we think in terms of what it does for a certain community in the present. We are holding power accountable now. We are questioning authority now. We represent the almost inaudible voices now. But journalism has another value: archiving our history.
If you wanted to revisit any year at Duke, the first place you would go is The Chronicle. If you wanted more information about the lacrosse scandal or the Allen building takeover, you would seek out The Chronicle. If you wanted to relive some of Duke’s shining moments such as winning the Nobel Prize or a men’s basketball national championship, you would come to The Chronicle. There isn’t a more vigilant record of history at Duke University than us. When we write, we aren’t just writing for today or tomorrow. We are writing for history.
We decide what is and what isn’t relevant in the grand scheme of time. What we decide to cover is what will be remembered by most. What we decide not to cover will most likely be forgotten. Every year, the staff at The Chronicle leaves behind a legacy—a volume of stories which immortalize that year’s trials and triumphs, scandals and accomplishments, heartbreak and joy.
For that reason, I urge any and every member of the Duke community to engage with The Chronicle. Most likely, there is a place for you in 301 Flowers. We will teach you everything you need to know—no experience necessary.
This year, we covered the world’s biggest news event—a presidential election. We sent reporters to protests and rallies all over North Carolina. We also wrote about the latest scientific breakthroughs in cancer and autism. We introduced Duke’s 10th President, Vincent Price, and we covered the last days of President Richard Brodhead and David Rubenstein, chair of the Board of Trustees. If any of that intrigues you, come join our news department.
Or maybe you’re a fan of Duke men’s basketball. Throughout our history, we have sent reporters around the world to cover the men’s basketball program. This year, we sent reporters to New York to see the men’s basketball team win the ACC championship. And basketball is just one of the 27 sports we cover in our sports section.
Duke is more than its classes, its research and its sports. It also includes a vibrant arts community. Our Recess department has covered everything from Durham’s Moogfest to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. If you are interested in writing about arts and culture, consider joining Recess.
No article is complete without the accompanying visual. Some of the most iconic pictures we’ve taken this year include those of students on election night at Sanford, at LDOC and in Cameron Indoor Stadium. If your passion is photography, join our photo department. Often, articles require visuals that bring to life the numbers or quotes in them. If you want to create stunning graphics, join our graphics team.
Last but not least, we have one of most engaging venues for opinion at Duke. Whether it’s a pointed critique aimed at Duke’s not-always-inclusive social culture or the crazy world of national politics, our opinion section hosts a wide array of viewpoints and discussions. If you have something to say, write a biweekly column or join the Editorial Board.
If none of these sections entice you, I still urge you to stay engaged with The Chronicle by reading our print edition—which comes out Monday, Wednesday and Friday—or reading content online, which is updated everyday Monday through Friday. We are a digital-first organization, so like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Today, respect for the truth seems to be declining in popular esteem. Newspapers like ours have had a long history of being champions of truth. While we might not always get it right, we do our best to bring you the most accurate, up-to-date information. We also strive to dig a little deeper. Ultimately, we hope to help you have a better understanding of the world around you.
What we do at The Chronicle is a public service, but it’s also a lot of fun. Late nights of last-minute edits and early mornings of breaking news have bonded the staff at The Chronicle. We are a family with roots over 100 years old. We take care of our own and we’ll take care of you.
Welcome to 301 Flowers.
Likhitha Butchireddygari is a Trinity junior and the editor-in-chief of The Chronicle.