It feels like yesterday that I walked into 201 Flowers for my first Chronicle sports meeting. As an avid Duke basketball fan, I figured I would chip in the occasional blog to share my thoughts about the team, but not much more.
While I had started my own small sports blog in high school, I certainly did not have confidence in my writing nor aspirations for journalism. As a data-driven statistics major, I never could have imagined spending a year as sports editor and I certainly was unaware that my position this past year—digital strategy director—existed. My narrow-minded self thought that The Chronicle was merely a factory for future reporters. That could not have been further from the truth.
First and foremost, The Chronicle is the people of all majors and interests who make our everyday coverage possible. I would not be here if my predecessors, Amrith and Hank, had not taken me under their wings and given me the training and confidence needed to thrive as a writer. Bre, Winston and Nathan made those late Sunday print nights that much more tolerable. The entire sports department made me feel at home during that first meeting and continued to push me to be my best when I was at the helm.
The Chronicle is the mentorship experiences. The ability to train and watch writers grow up before my eyes has been extremely rewarding. Derek took the sports section to new heights this year with his charismatic leadership. Launching the Duke basketball walk-up survey and working alongside Evan, Shane and Glen—it feels like yesterday since they first walked into our info session last fall—leaves me eager to see what comes next across all of our platforms.
The Chronicle is much more than just articles. Over the past four years, it has been amazing to watch constant experimentation and growth as we attempt to better understand our audiences. As digital strategy director, my focus was on increasing engagement and rethinking how we cater to our modern audiences. In addition to articles, The Chronicle is videos, podcasts and photo slideshows.
The Chronicle is digital-first. Last year I had the privilege of joining our website redesign team, which resulted in the 2019 Online Pacemaker Award. We’ve revamped our idea of the usage of social media, focusing more on supplemental content such as Twitter polls and engaging questions. We’ve grown our Instagram (thedukechronicle), Twitter (@dukechronicle, @dukebasketball, @chroniclesports and @chroniclerecess) and Facebook (Duke Chronicle). Our Instagram and @dukebasketball accounts surpassed 2,000 and 150,000 followers, respectively, this fall.
The Chronicle is the once-in-a-lifetime coverage opportunities. I vividly remember sitting in the Wake Forest media room shaking while asking Coach K my first question. It had taken me six games to muster up the confidence to do it, and I had written my script to help ease the pressure of speaking to the winningest coach of all time.
Throughout my four years, I had the opportunity to interview the likes of Grayson Allen, Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter Jr., Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Tre Jones, Vernon Carey and Daniel Jones. Whether it was standing alone in the locker room or at a weekly Duke football availability, those experiences shaped the way I ask questions and drastically improved my self confidence.
The Chronicle is the road trips I am so fortunate to have been able to take. In an era where local journalism is suffering, I’m grateful for the fact that The Chronicle still sends a writer to every men’s basketball and football game.
During my time on staff, I’ve had the privilege to cover games at Virginia Tech, Boston College, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, St. John’s, Baylor, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Miami, Syracuse, North Carolina and Virginia. I also covered the Duke Canada Tour in Toronto and Montreal, the 2018 Champions Classic in Indianapolis, the 2018 Maui Invitational, NBA All-Star Weekend 2019 and the 2019 ACC tournament in Charlotte, and the first weekend of the 2019 NCAA tournament in Columbia, S.C.
Lastly, The Chronicle is not only today, but yesterday and tomorrow. Whenever I walk into 301 Flowers, the 115 years of history is overwhelming. Whether it is a new university president, a national championship or coining “Blue Devils” as Duke’s mascot, The Chronicle has been there. Knowing that staff members in the future will look at the random papers and Sportswraps I’ve hung up in the sports hall—like I did these past four years—is certainly special.
While I am technically saying goodbye to The Chronicle, this is not the end. I will always be forever grateful that I decided to return after that first meeting. The friendships and experiences The Chronicle provided will never be forgotten, and I hope to continue to give back to an organization that has shaped me more than any other I’ve ever been a part of.
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Michael Model is a Trinity senior. He served as digital strategy director of The Chronicle’s 115th volume and sports editor of The Chronicle’s 114th volume. He wants to thank Hank and Mitchell for convincing him not to go abroad and for their hard work—alongside Winston and Derek—during late nights in the office. He would like to thank Bre and Nathan for making print nights entertaining and for distracting him from his loathing of layout. He also wants to recognize Likhitha for opening him up to the realm of digital strategy and Chrissy for making sure The Chronicle can fund its expensive coverage endeavors. While he is sad to leave, he is excited to spend the rest of his quarantine participating in countless Chronicle Twitter polls.