When Duke announced classes were moving online, I knew it meant an end to impassioned discussions over meals at the Brodhead Center, cheering on the basketball team at watch parties and late nights in The Chronicle’s office at 301 Flowers. But as a student journalist, I knew the most important part of my time at Duke had just begun.
Students were scattered to the winds, forced to adapt to remote learning and make do without many of their belongings. Administrators had to make quick decisions about who could stay on campus and how classes would be graded.
In a moment like this, it’s been up to The Chronicle to keep the community informed about the evolving situation. We’ve worked to put out fast and accurate information about policy changes and the local situation.
We knew administrators, themselves scrambling to figure out this new reality, would make mistakes or adopt inequitable policies—and we’ve held them accountable when they have. We covered the chaotic process of deciding which international students could stay on campus, and the harrowing situation of part-time contract workers who are no longer being paid.
We’ve also captured the community at its best, as it banded together in a time of need. We covered the University’s commitment of millions of dollars to support students and its effort to reunite them with their belongings. We shone a spotlight on the students who banded together to donate almost $22,000 to community members impacted by the pandemic.
As Duke’s newspaper of record, we’ve documented this unique moment in history. We recorded administrators’ Herculean efforts to respond to the crisis. We captured the experiences of students without reliable internet access and seniors who had to say painfully abrupt goodbyes.
The coronavirus made the mission of serving the Duke community more immediate than ever, and it’s given me meaningful work in a time that can feel pretty bleak. There have been challenges, from covering news remotely to putting together this send-home issue without having laid out a print paper before. But on the whole, I’ve never been more proud to be part of The Chronicle.
Still, you shouldn’t think it’s all coronavirus, all the time. I fell in love with student journalism because it let me learn more about the people, events and ideas that make a research university hum with life. In two years with The Chronicle, I’ve interviewed Duke President Vincent Price and one of the authors of a U.N. climate change report. I’ve covered a student protest and dozens of Duke Student Government Senate meetings. In the same week, I traveled to Washington, D.C., for a rally outside the Supreme Court and wrote about an opossum living in the ceiling of a dorm.
In the past year, The Chronicle has published features, food reviews, interviews, investigations and more. We’ve published essays from students at Duke Kunshan University in China, which I like to imagine would blow the minds of the students who founded the paper in 1905 (before Duke was even called “Duke”).
When we aren’t hard at work, we find time to gather in the office to watch election returns and episodes of Jeopardy. We go to basketball games together, make Cookout runs and host an annual semiformal and formal (which hopefully won’t be on Zoom next year).
There are countless ways to get involved with The Chronicle. None require prior experience, and with the exception of the opinion section, none require an application.
The news department covers everything from scandals to student life, from lawsuits against Duke to a climate rally on the Bryan Center plaza. If you want to dig into the inner workings of the University, meet its important figures or document the events that shape life here, news is the place for you. If you’re interested in long-form, narrative work, you should also try your hand at writing features.
Our sports department covers all things Duke basketball, and if you get involved, you just might get to cover a Duke-Carolina game. But it’s not all basketball: We cover all of Duke’s 27 NCAA sports. We were there when Bryce Jarvis pitched the first nine-inning perfect game in the baseball program’s history, and when the softball team was ranked in a major poll for the first time.
If you’re into arts and culture, try writing for Recess. In the past year, we’ve covered on-campus art installations and the local nightlife scene. Writers have reviewed music, movies and television. Our intrepid food columnist has visited local restaurants and tried upscale cuisine served in a student’s apartment.
The opinion section is a place for students to share ideas, thoughts and hot takes. Columnists and members of the Community Editorial Board shape campus dialogue, starting conversations that echo in the dining halls of Marketplace and the conference rooms of the Allen Building.
Maybe writing just isn’t your thing. In that case, you should get involved with our photography department, where you can document famous speakers, noteworthy events and campus celebrities. (Here’s a secret: You can also get into basketball games by photographing them.) You can also join the graphics team, creating the eye-popping illustrations and data visualizations that keep our content interesting, or become a layout editor to help put the print paper together.
We’re a digital-first news organization, so video, audio and digital strategy are important parts of what we do. Try your hand at making videos or podcasts, or live your dream of being an influencer by joining our social media team. (And if you’re conflicted by all the options, don’t worry—you can write or work for multiple sections.)
If you aren’t interested in joining you should keep up to date with what’s happening at Duke by reading The Chronicle on our website and in print. Subscribe to our newsletters and follow us on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss the important news of the day. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, where we often post updates, photos, polls and interactive content that go beyond what you’ll see on our website. Share your perspective with us in guest columns and letters to the editor.
The next year at Duke will be like no other. Regardless of what happens, we’ll be there to keep the community informed. We’ll be there to hold administration to account. We’ll be there to tell the story of this moment in Duke’s history. And long after the pandemic is over, we’ll be there to record life at this one-of-a-kind place.
I hope you’ll be along for the ride.
Matthew Griffin is a Trinity junior and editor-in-chief of The Chronicle’s 116th volume.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Bryce Jarvis as Bryan Jarvis.The Chronicle regrets the error.
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Matthew Griffin was editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 116th volume.