It was the last week of Volume 109’s summer production schedule and my first stab at handling real sleep deprivation. Writing two 10-page final essays on top of putting together a 50-page supplement had left me exhausted, stressed and a little loopy. It was in this mental state, sitting in The Chronicle’s 2,000 square-foot office copyediting a story, that a squirrel peeked its head out from behind my laptop.
After coming to terms with the fact that I was not hallucinating the appearance of a squirrel, I screamed for help. I proceeded to spend the next three hours attempting to assist the Sports Editor and Towerview Editor with trapping the squirrel in a plastic box. I missed all of my deadlines that day.
If there’s one thing The Chronicle has taught me, it is to always prepare for the unexpected. Whether it was a squirrel wreaking havoc on the photo department’s desks, two staff members quitting the very first night of production or scrambling to replace a new camera lens stolen from a football game, I quickly became affiliated as The Chronicle’s damage control. In some ways, I like to think of myself as akin to Scandal’s Olivia Pope fixing problems in Washington D.C., except without the impeccable white paint suits and expensive red wine collection.
Serving as editor came with a slew of predictable responsibilities. There was copyediting, writing, fact-checking and keeping each department on track with their goals. There was also the higher aim of trying to produce the highest quality of journalism we possibly could in the digital age. In some respects I succeeded in meeting these responsibilities and in other respects I failed.
At the end of the day, though, I often found my greatest responsibility was simply being there—and I like to believe I always succeeded in that regard. As editor, the organization and its staff always came first in my book. Sleep or proper eating habits be damned.
I truly saw just how far I could be pushed in February, when one of The Chronicle’s most talented reporters called begging me to help her get a story out before another publication beat us to the punch. Put under a time crunch neither of us could have predicted, I called two of the most dedicated editors I knew asking for assistance.
Let me say that, just like Olivia Pope, I would be nothing without a group of dedicated individuals to help propel The Chronicle forward. That night was the 21st birthday party of a mutual best friend as well as one of Duke’s many snow days, yet we all sacrificed everything to trek to 301 Flowers in unbearable conditions to put The Chronicle first.
That night, an editor would drive in the snow to pick up a source, I would learn of my grandfather’s death and we would all pull an all-nighter to publish our most controversial story of the year. The weeks following publication of that story are best characterized as a blur of trying to tame a fire we had started.
I suppose the obvious question to come from all of this is: why? Why sacrifice a year traditionally reserved to go abroad and explore the world to sit in a stuffy office faced with more responsibility and stress than most 20-year olds ever experience?
To me, the answer is obvious: I love The Chronicle. Since I joined The Chronicle freshman year, the individuals in that unpredictable and highly unstable office have been the best friends I could ask for. They’ve given me a shoulder to cry on during truly difficult times and bin candy to munch on after a long day. They’re the ones who listen to old-school hip-hop with me until 4 a.m. and watch Scandal after a long week. They’re my second family.
Staying up into the wee hours of the night or copyediting stories for hours seems like such a minor way to pay back the group of people who made me into the fearless and capable woman I am today. This year was hard. But it prepared me for the real world in more ways than I could have imagined and it allowed me to help a staff of amazing individuals get closer to their undergraduate journalism goals. I cannot regret that.
With that, I bid farewell to all the crises and thank all the wonderful people who helped me (sometimes) elegantly and (often) inelegantly handle them. To Sophia Durand, Raisa Chowdhury, Daniel Carp and Elysia Su—a million thank you’s. And a big thanks to Volume 109 for rocking my world.
Danielle Muoio is a Trinity junior and editor-in-chief of The Chronicle. Like her predecessors, she aches with the knowledge that she will never be either again.