The independent news organization of Duke University

Why Duke needs the Chronicle, and why the Chronicle needs you

a note from our editor in chief

I remember my first interview as a reporter for The Chronicle like it was yesterday. 

For months, as I applied to different colleges and scholarship programs, I sat on one end of the table, answering questions for interview after interview. Now the tables had turned, and I was the one asking the questions to a professor who had just written a book on America in the age of Trump. I stammered through my questions and breathed a huge sigh of relief when I was finished.

Flash forward to this past May, and I’m interviewing none other than President Vincent Price with the ease of a seasoned journalist—or so I’d like to think.

Journalists, and journalism more broadly, for that matter, aren’t perfect. It’s really difficult to get the whole picture, the complete story. It’s easy to mess up somebody’s name, forget a detail, miss the forest for the trees. Student journalism is even messier. With constant turnover, important and complicated stories are written by students learning to be reporters—and just like that, those new reporters become editors, and then maybe they become Editor-in-Chief with two years of journalism under their belt (@yours_truly).

But that’s why student journalism is so important, especially here at Duke. It’s clean and simple to put out public relations materials, and trust me, this university is overflowing with it. It’s more difficult to do real reporting, but it’s so necessary. In case you haven’t followed, there’s a lot of dirt that Duke just doesn’t want to be dug up. 

That’s where The Chronicle comes in. Just this past year, we’ve looked into some shady investments Duke made and the reaction to housekeepers being made to work weekends. We asked who really killed Durham’s light rail, and after the news that a professor warned Chinese students not to speak Chinese became a national scandal, we broke the news that she had done the same thing months before.

Why can we do this? Because we are independent of the University, and we don’t have an agenda. If Duke does something praiseworthy, we’ll report it. In fact, The Chronicle loves publishing feel-good articles, whether it's about Duke’s sports teams, an incredible student story or groundbreaking research. We want to paint as complete a picture as we can of the University while giving people the truth—not just what they want to hear.

Don’t worry though: we aren’t normally this self-serious. We rate avocados and profile the dankest food truck in Durham. In our cozy office in 301 Flowers, we watch basketball games, make CookOut runs and host Chronicle formals. I can’t tell you how many thought-provoking conversations I’ve had up in the office. And to relax our minds, a group of us even went to Beach Week together this year.

I joined The Chronicle to be a better writer. I stayed because of the family I’ve found here.

There are many ways to get involved with The Chronicle, and for all the departments except the opinion section, no application is required. You just have to show up to a meeting and bring a good attitude.

In the news department, you can become plugged in to Duke and get a feel for how this university really operates. Reporters write about the news of the day and answer questions that come straight from our readers. In just two years here, I’ve investigated unfair changes to housekeeping hours, watched Bernie Sanders speak at the Chapel, witnessed a Silent Sam protest at UNC Chapel Hill and written a deep dive piece on how many avocados Duke vendors use (we’re student journalists—aren’t we allowed to have a little fun?).

If you’ve ever dreamt of sitting on the front row at Cameron Indoor without having to tent in the cold for weeks, our sports department may be the place for you. But we’re not just a basketball paper—we cover all 27 sports, from our national champion women’s golf team to our bowl-winning football team. In sports, you can cover games, pen hot takes or even write about the other Coach K.

But what if you want to cover top sporting events without having to write about them? Our photographers get right up close to all the action (sometimes a little too close, like when a basketball player falls on them at a game). And when they’re not shooting sports, photographers are memorializing big speakers, protests and all of Duke’s most important events.

Don’t forget about arts and culture! If you join Recess, you can get the chance to review movies or music, travel to film festivals like Sundance and write about the vibrant arts scene here on campus.

We also have an opinion section, where you can truly spark campus conversations on hot-button issues. Columnists aren’t just yelling into the void—opinion pieces are widely read by people in all corners of the Duke community and can make lasting change.

If none of those sound appealing, there are so many other ways you can get involved. As The Chronicle continues transitioning into a digital-first publication, we need students interested in graphic design, social media, coding interactives, video and podcasting to take us to new heights. Come and get some real world experience!

Student journalism, whether it’s news, sports, arts, photography or opinion, can be messy and challenging. But it’s also one of the most rewarding activities you can do on campus, even if you’re not interested in journalism as a career—which, newsflash, is true of most Chronicle staffers. And if you do want to go into journalism, there’s no better way to learn than by doing. 

I speak for everyone at The Chronicle when I say please help us further our mission to hold Duke accountable and tell its best stories. I can’t wait to see y’all next semester.

Jake Satisky is a Trinity junior and Editor-in-Chief of the Chronicle's 115th Volume.

Comments