The Chronicle's 2021-22 update on diversity, equity and inclusion



The Chronicle’s Volume 116 made a commitment to promote racial justice within both the Duke community and our internal organization. Volume 117 has sought to continue and build upon these efforts. 

Our diversity and inclusion efforts continue to center three main goals. The first is to recruit staff from a variety of backgrounds, particularly identities that have been historically underrepresented in The Chronicle. The second is to create a welcoming environment within the paper so individuals from all backgrounds feel accepted and comfortable taking on leadership roles. The third is to focus on diversifying our coverage and sourcing in ways that give greater voice and representation to underserved audiences.

Demographic data

Chronicle staff were asked to complete a mid-year Diversity, Equity and Inclusion survey in December 2021 to gauge staff demographics and inclusion within the organization. The survey received 75 responses, which represents more than 57% of staff across all departments and is fewer responses than last year. This is the second year of The Chronicle surveying and reporting staff demographic and inclusion data.

Of Chronicle staff, 48% are editors and 52% are non-editor staff members. Note that “staff” includes both non-editor staff members and editors, while “leadership” refers only to editors.

Of the respondents, 41% identified as white, 35% identified as Asian or Asian American, 15% identified as multiracial, 8% identified as Black or African American and 1% identified as Hispanic or Latinx/e. 

Compared to the Duke undergraduate population of fall 2021—in which Asian American students make up 21% of the population—Asian Americans are overrepresented in The Chronicle. Meanwhile, Hispanic students, who make up 11% of the Duke population, are vastly underrepresented in The Chronicle. This is in contrast to last year, when Hispanic staffers were slightly overrepresented in The Chronicle compared to the Duke population.

The proportion of white staffers is one percentage point higher than the overall undergraduate population. The proportion of Black students in The Chronicle matched the proportion in the Duke population. 

Among leadership, 33% identify as white, 47% identify as Asian, 14% identify as multiracial, 6% identify as Black or African American and none identify as Hispanic or Latinx/e. Compared to general staff demographics, Hispanic or Latino, Black or African American and white staff are underrepresented in Chronicle leadership, while Asian or Asian American staff are overrepresented. 

Women comprise 55% of the Duke’s fall 2021 undergraduate population. Of The Chronicle’s survey respondents, 56% identify as female, 40% identify as male, 1% identify as agender, 1% identify as genderqueer or nonbinary and 1% are questioning. 1% of Chronicle staff indicated they do not identify with their gender assigned at birth.

Unlike last year, this proportion remained constant among Chronicle leadership: 56% of leadership identify as female, 42% identify as male and 3% are questioning.

The median family income for all Chronicle staff is $200,000 to $400,000, which is higher than last year and higher than the median at Duke ($186,700) according to The New York Times. Both medians are significantly higher than the 2021 national median family income of $79,900. 

Additionally, compared to 52% of Duke students on need-based financial aid, only about 32% of Chronicle staff are on financial aid. Among leadership, only 21% are on need-based financial aid. This is consistent with last year’s trends.


Moreover, 4% of staff identify as first-generation and 7% are international students. Among leadership, 3% of editors identify as first-generation and 3% are international students.

Organizational inclusion

The survey also asked questions to assess levels of inclusion and belonging of staff within The Chronicle. Questions ranged from respectful treatment and comfort in sharing ideas at The Chronicle to The Chronicle’s efforts in promoting diversity.

The highest proportion of staff indicated they “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed that they have grown and improved in their role throughout their time at The Chronicle (84%) and that all staff members are treated with respect regardless of experience (80%). The highest percentage also indicated that The Chronicle is a safe and supportive environment for BIPOC individuals (80%) and that they feel comfortable sharing ideas and feedback without fear of negative consequences (80%).

The lowest proportion of staff indicated they “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed that they have made meaningful friendships through The Chronicle (52%) and that they are satisfied with the amount and quality of feedback received from editors (68%). 

Among leadership, the proportions were similar for the highest scored inclusion indicators, but significantly higher for the lowest scored indicators. Around 76% of editors “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed that they have made meaningful friendships through The Chronicle and 76% agreed that they are satisfied with the amount and quality of feedback received from other editors.

This could indicate the need for individual departments in The Chronicle to invest more time and energy in creating closer-knit communities and social opportunities and in continuing to streamline and improve their editing and feedback processes.

Actions this year

The Chronicle amplified recruitment efforts by reaching out to on-campus identity groups, particularly those that are underrepresented on staff. Within the paper, each department instituted a revised mentorship structure to give new staff members opportunities to build relationships with current editors, with the goal of encouraging each staffer to feel comfortable pursuing leadership roles.

The Chronicle continued its efforts from last year to amplify recruitment from on-campus identity groups and cultural centers, particularly those that are underrepresented on staff. 

Each department within the paper continued implementing and improving their mentorship structures to give new staff members opportunities to build relationships with current editors. 

The goal of the structure is to encourage staffers to feel comfortable pursuing leadership roles. According to the survey this year, 45% of non-senior, non-editor staff members indicated they intend to apply for higher or leadership positions in The Chronicle and feel supported in doing so. Another 45% indicated they are undecided and 10% indicated they do not.

The news department continued its system from last year for writers and editors to integrate coverage of diverse communities and angles into our everyday work habits. When pitching story ideas, staff must consider how their stories integrate diverse voices and representation and whether those stories are centered on the community or on Duke as an institution.

Staff continue to use an internal resource to help them report and write across identities to ensure they are using language that is fair, accurate and inclusive. The resource includes guides such as the Global Press Style Guide and the National Association of Black Journalists Style Guide.

The Chronicle also continued its efforts to promote reader engagement with our coverage, including a texting service in which readers can suggest topics of interest that we may have overlooked. 

Looking ahead

This year, The Chronicle attempted to implement a DEI Leadership Program, but ran into several internal barriers in doing so. This program, which we plan to re-attempt next year, seeks to provide a network of support and resources for aspiring student leaders in The Chronicle from underrepresented groups. Through alumni connections, luncheons, trainings, professional development and mentorship opportunities and more, the program seeks to create an accessible pipeline for underrepresented students to feel welcome assuming leadership roles in the organization.

For this year’s prospective program cohort, we prepared resources, alumni connections, programming, and application materials. However, due to a lack of coordination in promoting the program among sections, we ultimately had too few applications to proceed with the program.

DEI Coordinator Ashwin Kulshrestha will work closely with Volume 118’s DEI Coordinator to ensure they avoid similar pitfalls and are well set up to re-implement the program in Fall 2022.

Mona Tong profile
Mona Tong

Mona Tong is a Trinity senior and director of diversity, equity and inclusion analytics for The Chronicle's 117th volume. She was previously news editor for Volume 116.


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