One morning in the Chronicle office, after pulling an all-nighter to finish a PubPol memo, I saw a squirrel in front of me.
I was laying on the couch with my laptop, and 15 feet in front of me a squirrel was chilling in the office. My heart skipped a beat, not knowing how it got in or, more importantly, how I was going to get it out. Luckily, right after I snapped a quick pic of it, the squirrel jumped back out of the open window through which it came in.
That incident is just one of many incredible and unique experiences I’ve had in 301 Flowers, The Chronicle’s office. The Chronicle has been the most important pillar of my Duke career. I started out as a news staff reporter, rose up to be a university news editor, made a BIG leap to become editor-in-chief of the entire organization, and then this year I’ve enjoyed semi-retirement as digital strategy director. I couldn’t have foreseen The Chronicle becoming this integral to my identity at Duke, but I’m so grateful for it.
For my senior column, I decided to share some of my favorite stories, photos and moments from my four years at the paper. This isn’t a collection of all my best stories, per se, just ones that I’d like to share with you, my loyal readers (hi Grandma!).
It all began with my very first story. Despite having tons of experience (i.e. editor-in-chief of my seventh grade newspaper that lasted a semester), I picked an easy Q&A to start with. Having that first successful interview under my belt gave me the confidence to continue writing.
My first year I also moonlighted as a food reporter. I wrote about which on-campus eateries use the most avocados (spoiler: ABP), and in the first draft I turned in I thought it’d be funny to use a different nickname for avocados each time I mentioned them (spoiler: they got edited out). For some reason, my editors also let me write a food review of Thrive on Central Campus.
That summer, I had the pleasure of walking around downtown Durham with Phail Wynn, who headed Duke’s Office of Durham and Regional Affairs and led it for 10 years. We talked about Durham’s history, downtown development, affordable housing and his interests in motorcycles and Star Wars. I wish I could’ve talked with him more, but he tragically died a month later.
My first investigative story came during sophomore fall, when I worked on a story about housekeepers getting their shifts uprooted against their wishes. Thankfully, the administration reversed the policy before it went into effect. After that story, I knew that I wanted to run for editor-in-chief and produce more stories like it.
A few months later, I got the opportunity to travel to Washington to see the Supreme Court hear oral arguments for the N.C. gerrymandering case. Well, I didn’t actually see that case’s oral arguments—we accidentally stood at the front of the line for 30 minutes, not realizing we had cut everybody—but I was fortunate enough to witness arguments for the Maryland gerrymandering case.
In the summer after being elected editor-in-chief, I produced a pretty darn good baseball photo (even though I had never shot an event with a real camera in my life) and an award-winning graphic for a story about lemurs and cell phones.
I’m extremely proud of every serious, intensely reported Chomicle article I’ve written from the past two years, from Duke’s new head of housing to admin emails to a day with Coach K to reimbursing housing fees to the search for essential belongings to my thoughts on Peaches. Oh, and I’m really, really proud of this one.
One of the perks of being a Raleigh, based editor-in-chief was that I got to cover men and women’s basketball games over winter break, despite having no prior sports journalism experience. I even asked Coach K a question!
Finally, my heart swells with pride when I think about our COVID-19 coverage last spring, when the world closed down so unexpectedly. Anyone on staff could have just shut down when they left campus, but everyone found a renewed sense of purpose to keep our coverage stronger than ever. Obviously I wish the year didn’t end the way it did, but I will always appreciate how the V. 115 staff stepped up to the plate when the time called.
Favorite story that I didn’t write: Every day of my sophomore year, I passed by the weird Keohane painting, and truth be told, I quite liked it by the end of the year. So when we at The Chronicle heard it might get taken down, I couldn’t wait to get a story written about it. Thankfully, our brave art reporters Nathan Luzum and Carter Forinash laid out the history and controversy surrounding “Untitled 1.” Because of this story, the two of them wound up moderating a panel on paintings at Duke. Treat yourself and read this story.
Jake Satisky is a Trinity senior who served as editor-in-chief of The Chronicle’s 115th volume. He is already missing 301 Flowers, the quote wall, frantic print nights, late-night food runs, sleeping on the office couch, watching reporters and editors improve their skills, deep conversations in the office and the amazing people who made it all worth it. Speaking of, he would like to thank previous EICs Likhitha and Bre for mentoring and inspiring him; Nathan, Stef, Kathryn, Shannon and Lexi for being the best upper masthead an EIC could ask for; Derek, Leah Abrams, Nina, Mary Helen and Charles for leading fantastic sections and livening up the office; Matthew for taking the paper to even greater heights; Leah Boyd for the excellent work you’ll do next year as EIC; Chrissy for just being the best general manager in the country; and Carter for keeping me sane as my roommate and Chronicle partner-in-crime for the past three years.
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Jake Satisky is a Trinity senior and the digital strategy director for Volume 116. He was the Editor-in-Chief for Volume 115 of The Chronicle.