The independent news organization of Duke University

Living up to the billing

Dear readers,

Sitting in a cramped Raleigh hearing room in June with reporters from The Associated Press, New York Times and Washington Post, I listened as a North Carolina State Bar commission announced the disbarment of Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong.

I don't think anyone would question that it was a watershed moment for the University. All of us dealt with the repercussions of the lacrosse case, whether we were students being harangued by television cameras on the way to classes, faculty members coming under fire for their response to the accusations or incoming classes deciding whether it was worth it to attend a school dogged by scandal.

For those of us who write for The Chronicle, it was also a very exciting time, as we competed and rubbed elbows with top-notch reporters and got to follow a story of national interest. At the same time, it became almost a single focus for us, consuming much of our time and the pages of this paper.

But with Nifong out of office, charges dismissed and most of the loose ends of the case tied up, both Duke and The Chronicle are ready to move on.

As the community looks to regain some sense of normalcy, the staff of The Chronicle's 103rd volume is excited to continue the excellent standard set by our predecessors in the last two years in providing news to the entire University community.

I am extremely proud to be part of the strong tradition of one of America's best college newspapers, but as we get back to the bread-and-butter of standard daily news, we know there are also areas where we can improve.

My last anecdote, I swear: While I was working on this column, I was at a party where someone, unaware that I even worked for the paper, stormed mightily to me about The Chronicle's shortcomings and its (he thought) disturbingly central role in student life. "People think all the news that happens is in The Chronicle," he complained. "There's so much they don't get."

And it's true. Although I'm delighted every time I see anyone pick up a copy, he was right. We've missed important events and trends, and we have not always represented the voice of faculty, of staff and of graduate and professional students as extensively as that of undergraduate students. And sometimes we make straight-up errors.

Although undergrads will always be our main focus, I am eager to hear from members of all parts of Duke-whether it's suggestions for things we should be covering or complaints about our failings. I take seriously the responsibility to correct any shortcomings, but I can only do that if I am aware of them.

We also hope to provide, in addition to high-quality hard news stories, in-depth looks at issues affecting the University-whether academic or social, local or national.

In the spirit of looking forward, we've worked to assemble a newspaper that focuses on some of the trends that will shape campus life during the next 12 months.

It's a year of fresh faces in the Allen Building, as the University adds news administrative positions and replaces the holders of others; learn a little about them in our news pages, along with analyses of how some recommendations of the Campus Culture Initiative might shape the face of campus over the next few years. Also, take a look at where Duke fits in the current national debate over college rankings.

Dig into Sportswrap for updates on what new women's basketball head coach Joanne P. McCallie has been up to for the summer and clues on six athletes to watch in the next year.

Pull out recess, The Chronicle's weekly arts and entertainment section, which kicks off its 10th anniversary volume with an eclectic mix for advice on what to wear, what to listen to and the hottest new eateries in the Bull City-plus an interview with the man who brought us, well, his junk in a box.

The Chronicle's news perspectives magazine, Towerview, returns with an even sleeker look and its annual look at 10 people and things to watch for the new year, from a team of Dukies trying to foment Internet commerce revolution to the DukeEngage program.

We've mailed this issue to all undergraduates, but you can also read it on our award-winning website, Surf over for exclusive content, breaking news as it breaks and blogs from staff members.

One final thing. In this space last year, Ryan McCartney, editor of volume 102, reminisced about a phrase that used to run on The Chronicle's flag in the '60s. This year, we've put it back: "The Tower of Campus Thought and Action."

We hope we live up to the billing.

David Graham is a Trinity junior and editor of The Chronicle. Contact him at or 919-684-2663.


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