Let’s give that a moment to sink in: After more than 80 years in 301 Flowers (editorial) and many years on the first floor of West Union (business/advertising), The Chronicle will likely be moving as soon as 2013.
What has brought this about? In March, the Duke Endowment gave the university $80 million to renovate West Union, Flowers, Page Auditorium and Baldwin Auditorium. Construction in West Union will begin as early as the fall of 2013, necessitating our relocation.
While nostalgia for our historic home is strong, there are considerable advantages to new space. The Chronicle’s editorial staff has grown from about 75 in the 1990s to more than 200 today, making for close quarters. And the offices have not been renovated at all since you graduated, no matter what your age, aside from the addition of central air conditioning in the 1980s. The slanted ceilings, narrow halls, numerous small offices, old wiring and lack of handicap accessibility make 301 Flowers less than ideal for a modern multimedia newsroom. Finally, the conversion to a student-staffed advertising sales team in 2010 means that there are more folks than ever squeezed into 103 West Union.
Talks this fall with the Duke administration have been positive, with agreement that The Chronicle should remain in the “West Union precinct,” meaning in or around the West Union building at the heart of West Campus. Duke Student Publishing Company (DSPC), publisher of The Chronicle, has established the following parameters for our new home:
- An area of 9,000 to 11,000 square feet for our editorial staff of 200-plus to write, edit, design, and photograph; to develop new web platforms; and to produce content in new platforms like video. It would also accommodate our editorial, business and advertising operations together, all of which involve students and require increasing collaboration in the new media environment.
- Visibility to our stakeholders, including Duke students, faculty and staff, advertisers, alumni and the public.
- Safety and easy accessibility at night so students feel secure when leaving the office.
- Windows providing natural light, which are essential for a space where the staff spends so much time.
This move is a tremendous, once-in-a-century opportunity to obtain the space necessary for The Chronicle’s student-led, student-run multimedia company to continue to thrive. As stewards of Duke’s largest, and second-oldest, student group, DSPC’s board is committed to finding a new location that is desirable to students and well-suited to educating coming generations of top multimedia journalists. We will also be sure to preserve as much of the positive aspects of the current office space as possible—the photos, clips and notes that adorn the walls, the bound volumes, the Harper’s Index in the restroom, and the sense of history and tradition that attracts and inspires Chronicle staff.
We will keep you updated on our discussion with the administration. Duke is working to hire the project architect quickly, and we hope to have agreed on our new location by late spring or summer 2012.
DSPC’s relocation committee includes General Manager Jonathan Angier, Editor Sanette Tanaka ’12, Karen Blumenthal ’81, David Ingram ’03, David Graham ’09, Lindsey Rupp ’12, and Taylor Doherty ’12.
You can see a rendering of the West Union renovation in this October 2011 Chronicle story and keep up with developments through this Duke blog. Stay tuned, and feel free to reach out to any DSPC board member or to me at emorgan.dc(at)gmail.com. Thank you for your support.
Elizabeth Morgan ‘90
Duke Student Publishing Company