The independent news organization of Duke University

Care about the little things

senior column

I love The Chronicle because everyone is here for their own reason. 

Some people stay because they love the business of journalism, the puzzle-solving feeling that comes from putting together a story. Some people stay because they love Duke, and want to tell the story of the school and its students. Some people stay because they know that they’re already great writers, or because they want to become better ones. 

That isn’t why I stayed. When I wandered into 301 Flowers as a sophomore, I knew nothing about journalism. I didn’t know what a lede was and I was a little iffy on AP style. I might’ve picked up The Chronicle a couple times—probably to skim its basketball coverage—but I’m certain that I had never glanced past that. 

Then why did I stay? Well, I stayed because of Gilmore Girls. 

I’m not from a small town in New England, I didn’t go to Yale and I hadn’t joined a secret society, so I really only had one option left to live out my Rory Gilmore dreams: I had to become a student journalist. I didn’t really know what that entailed, but I didn’t have a choice. I was going to see my name in print. I was going to be the hot-shot reporter who broke the big investigative stories. Maybe I was even going to climb the ranks and order people around from the lofty heights of editorship. Wherever the specifics were, I wandered into 301 Flowers because of a TV show, with all of the grand dreams that came along with it. 

Really, I accomplished a lot of that. I saw my name in print more times than I can count, I had the honor of serving as news editor through seven months of a global pandemic and I might’ve even written an important story or two. I’m genuinely proud of all of that, but in the end it isn’t why I stayed. 

Instead, I think that I stayed because of the little things.

In my three years here, I wrote about Duke Student Government’s rejection of a “selective social group,” followed up by a court case in the DSG Judiciary. I moved on to the removal of an anxiety-inducing painting in a Keohane dorm. I rounded out my portfolio with a thousand words about a patch of notable trees on campus.

Coming in, I’m not sure what I would’ve thought about that trio of stories. I probably would’ve found them goofy, maybe trivial. After all, it was a set of stories about an application-only friend group, a comics-inspired painting that scared a handful of sophomores at 3 a.m., and a stand of pines that are slightly unusual for this part of North Carolina. Or maybe that isn’t what those stories were about. 

Maybe one of them was about the ways that we all have a say in the issues that shape social life on campus. Maybe another was about how students turn a temporary dorm into a lasting home. Maybe the last was about understanding our school’s place in Durham and North Carolina. 

Maybe it was a set of stories about the little things that make Duke tick. When I look back on my time in The Chronicle, those are the stories that stick with me, the ones that you really have to look for. The ones that take something trivial—a painting, a Wednesday-night DSG meeting—and figure out why it really matters. The ones that didn’t have to be written, but that tell the story of life at this school.

The Chronicle and the people in it have also taught me so many things in my three years here. I learned more about AP style than I’ll ever be able to use, dedicated more hours than I’ll ever be able to count and met people who I’ll never be able to forget. I accomplished many of my big, Rory Gilmore dreams. This last year has also been full of big things. I’ve personally helped cover a landmark national election, students pushing Duke to reform its investments and the endless COVID-related news cycle that’s given us all an unfortunately memorable senior year. 

But now that I’m leaving 301 Flowers, it isn’t the big dreams or the big things that stick with me the most. When I walked out of the office on Wednesday night, at the end of my last editing shift, I wanted to stay because of the little things.

Carter Forinash is a Trinity senior who served as news editor of The Chronicle’s 116th volume, wrapping up three years in the news department. He would like to thank Jake for bringing him to his first Chronicle meeting and Nathan and Bre for being the reasons he stuck around. He is grateful to Leah and the rest of V. 117 for a stress-free last few months, with the knowledge that the paper will stay in great hands. He would like to specially thank Anna for her soon-to-be tireless work keeping the news department running, and more importantly for being the only other person in this newspaper who’s watched Gilmore Girls. If he didn’t respond to your emails on time, he’s very sorry. 

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