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Milla Surjadi elected editor-in-chief for Chronicle Vol. 118

Milla Surjadi, an English major from Forest Hills, N.Y., will serve as editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 118th volume.
Milla Surjadi, an English major from Forest Hills, N.Y., will serve as editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 118th volume.

Sophomore Milla Surjadi was elected Friday as the editor-in-chief of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.

In a staff-wide election, members of the student newspaper chose Surjadi to succeed junior Leah Boyd as editor-in-chief of The Chronicle and president of the Duke Student Publishing Company, Inc., the publisher of the independent, student-run daily newspaper.

Surjadi, who is from Forest Hills, N.Y., is an English major with a certificate in policy journalism and media studies. She is currently a university news editor and will begin her one-year term as editor-in-chief April 20.

Surjadi noted that over the past two years, she’s watched The Chronicle cover the pandemic and Duke’s “changing cultural landscape” with “commitment to the truth for our readers.” She’s seen its breaking news coverage and accountability journalism leverage The Chronicle’s digital platform.

“As we look to next year, as we watch how Duke students and administration will react to and handle this new Duke experience, writing the first draft of history takes on a whole new meaning,” Surjadi said.

As editor, Surjadi will prioritize interdepartmental communication among staff and editors by holding cross trainings, re-introducing editor “office hours,” revamping The Chronicle’s pitching system and providing opportunities for younger staff to take increased initiative. She feels these policies in turn will result in deeper, more nuanced coverage.

“If we are to produce more diverse and meaningful content that is as strong as our breaking news coverage, if we are to chase those stories that go unreported, then we need to provide our staff with the spaces for conversations to discuss those stories, the training so they feel equipped to and the scaffolding to do so through informal beats,” Surjadi said.

Boyd noted that Surjadi’s compassion, attention to detail and love for the Duke community are what will make her a good editor.

“I think the way she views herself as a friend and a colleague instead of a boss or an editor will go a long way,” Boyd said. “I don't think there's anyone I trust more to take over this paper. And I think if I gave her the job tomorrow, she'd already be extremely prepared.”

Managing Editor Nadia Bey, a junior, said Surjadi is able to pursue a wide variety of stories with strong journalistic instincts, citing her recent story about Matthew Harris as an example.

“I just have a lot of faith in her ability to lead this paper, to make The Chronicle a more welcoming place for its staff and a better institution that serves the community,” she said.

Enterprise Editor Chris Kuo, a junior, was one of Milla’s first editors. He recalled how she had turned in a magazine-length story about a Duke student’s quest to launch a rocket. He was “blown away” by the level of detail and her reporting and the voice that she had even as a young writer, and she’s only improved since then.

Kuo said Surjadi is first and foremost a fantastic journalist, but beyond that, she is a talented leader.

“I think what stood out to me from her platform was the emphasis on how being excellent, in terms of producing news that covers the University well, starts with caring for The Chronicle staff, and prioritizing excellence within The Chronicle,” Kuo said.

Surjadi is looking forward to joining a long line of editors that have led The Chronicle and served the Duke community by affirming the stories of members within it and holding those in power accountable. 

“What comes next year is in so many ways a continuation of the word unprecedented as we grapple with a possible post pandemic world,” Surjadi said. “I’m really excited to support our staff in pursuing the stories that I know our readers are going to need from us.”

Katie Tan profile
Katie Tan | Digital Strategy Director

Katie Tan is a Trinity junior and digital strategy director of The Chronicle's 119th volume. She was previously managing editor for Volume 118. 


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