The Chronicle will print one day per week starting this academic year.
The decision to move away from printing twice weekly—as The Chronicle has done since the 2018-19 academic year—is part of the newspaper’s focus on digital offerings as it enters its 116th volume. The decision was made by current student staff and the board of directors overseeing the newspaper.
“The Chronicle is a digital-first news organization, and our website is the best place to bring our readers real-time information about Duke’s policies and conditions on campus at a time when everything will be in flux,” Editor-in-Chief Matthew Griffin, a junior, wrote in a Monday editor’s note explaining the reasons for the move.
The Chronicle already takes a digital-first approach to breaking news, with real-time updates posted to the newspaper’s website. Starting this fall, time-sensitive news will appear only on the website, whereas the new one-day-a-week print edition—published Mondays—will gather long-form journalism and features from across The Chronicle’s sections.
Although the move has been in the works since before the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision to reduce print also coincides with an unusual semester, with most juniors and seniors not returning to on-campus housing in the fall and many classes moving online.
“The decision to publish once a week is reflective of the larger changes the University is undergoing, including limiting the student population and therefore a part of our campus readership as well as adapting to a new way of living that centers the interactions with our community in the virtual space,” said Recess Editor Sarah Derris, a senior who was part of a team of leaders that contributed to the decision.
The decision to reduce print to one day per week made sense from both an editorial and a business perspective, said Chrissy Beck, general manager of The Chronicle.
“The decision to move to one day a week considered readership—print versus online—staff bandwidth and our financial situation since we are fully independent from Duke,” Beck said. “In the last decade, we have grown our digital audience and revenue to a point where we can balance our budget with less print revenue.”
The Chronicle printed five issues a week as recently as the 2012-13 academic year. That summer, the newspaper moved to four issues, which was then reduced to three in 2016. The Duke Student Publishing Company board of directors—which oversees The Chronicle—voted to cut to twice-weekly publishing in 2018.
The DSPC board, which includes former editors-in-chief and other Chronicle alumni, has overseen The Chronicle since the newspaper became financially and editorially independent from the University in 1993.
The move away from daily weekday printing has coincided with a focus on digital publishing, with content published daily on The Chronicle’s website. The shift has been gradual, attempting to balance print journalism with a growing digital presence—including both the newspaper’s website and associated websites such as Near Duke, which provides information about housing options close to campus.
In his editor’s note, Griffin wrote that the process of deciding to move to one day a week was led by a team of current and former Chronicle leaders, representing sections of the newspaper that each have unique balances of print and digital content.
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“Recess coverage will look a little different this year. Campus and local arts events will mostly be digital,” Derris said. “We will still preview and review these events for our readers, and many of our stories will likely possess the angle of how COVID-19 is affecting art spaces and artists, and how they have adapted and persevered.”
While The Chronicle remains committed to delivering a weekly print product, the decision to cut print opens up more staff bandwidth to produce innovative online products.
“We consistently have higher-than-average traffic and revenue than our peer organizations because our student journalists are producing award-winning content and we’re investing in new technologies every year,” Beck said.