I stood in the back at my first Chronicle meeting and put my name on the listserv. At the time, that was the only commitment I thought I would be willing to make.
And then the Recess editor at the time spotted me and asked me a question I would hear (and say) many, many times in the next few years: “Want to pick up this story?”
The story required me to wake up at 9 a.m. and join a group of senior citizens in a three-hour bus tour to view 14 freshly painted murals scattered around Durham. On a Saturday. On my birthday.
Being the freshman I was, I agreed. And as I boarded that paint-splattered bus and made small talk with Durham’s strongest art aficionados, I remember thinking at the time—now that’s dedication. My understanding of that concept has since changed.
I enjoyed writing the piece and seeing my name in print even more. But back then, I couldn’t see myself as any more of a part of this paper than a peripheral member who attends Recess meetings and writes arts pieces from time to time.
But throughout the subsequent three and a half years, my investment in the newspaper continued to grow. I joined the news staff sophomore year and then juggled two positions junior year as the wire editor for news and arts editor for Recess.
And in February 2011, I was elected to serve as editor during my senior year, breaking a seven-year streak of junior editors.
Many people have asked me this year why I chose to take on this job in the first place, let alone as a senior. Why I would want to work 60 hours a week editing and fact-checking and spend the majority of my waking hours within the confines of a 2,000 sq.-ft. office, without compensation and without a byline except for a 7 pt. line of text tucked away in the back pages?
My reasons are, for the most part, unremarkable. I can say the usual editor’s response—it’s the best year, the worst year, the kind of year you-have-to-live-to-understand, descriptions that only apply to a handful of people and essentially only matter to that same handful.
To be blunt, what sparked my initial interest and what keeps me coming back is selfish. At this point, my happiness and self-worth is intertwined with the success of this organization. I like the idea of investing my entire being into something important—and The Chronicle fills that need for me.
Whether I’m in class or walking around campus, I click through emails every 10 minutes looking for breaking news and responding to sources. And right at 4:15 when daily production begins, lasting for the next nine to 10 hours, I am fact-checking, editing, discussing, planning. Sometimes my precious sleeping hours are interrupted, too, like when we have a last-minute posting crisis or a certain terrorist is killed (on our first night of production last year. We put the paper to bed at 6 a.m.).
Summing up all that goes into producing The Chronicle is no easy task. It is comprised of more than 10 departments and 200 staff members, two special pullout sections, one magazine, social media handles, a brand-new website and so much more. But the many moving parts are what make it so intriguing.
I have never invested in anything as fully as I have in The Chronicle. Without compensation or outright credit, those of us who work here find motivation through the people, the mission, the larger ideals that drive this institution.
This summer, I’m excited to go back to being a reporter, which is where my passion truly lies. But it saddens me to think that I will probably never feel as invested in an organization as I do in The Chronicle.
Although I’m ready to get back to what I deem my normal life, even if only for a few more weeks, I will miss feeling the weight of the paper. I’ll miss caring about something to such a degree and deriving so much joy and pain from a single institution. But for that, I’m still being selfish. When I pass the torch in our ceremonial whiskey shot, I will be happy knowing that the next volume is in good hands.
To wrap it up, I’d especially like to thank Nick and Nicole for putting up with everything from Chron at the Rock to my music choices; to Jamay, Danie and Manderz for our read-alouds at Blue Express sophomore year; and to Alex for somehow managing to simultaneously calm me down (“Don’t worry, no one reads The Chronicle.”) and build me up (“Don’t worry, people read The Chronicle.”) Thank you for making senior year unforgettable.
Sanette Tanaka is a Trinity senior and editor-in-chief of The Chronicle. Like her predecessors, she aches with the knowledge that she will never be either again.