Duke Chanticleer: ‘Portrait of a Yearbook’ as an Old Man

At nearly a century old, The Chanticleer, Duke University’s yearbook, is dying— at least in its current form.

A profile of the yearbook published in The Chronicle, the school’s student newspaper, during spring semester paints a grim picture.  The staff is having trouble giving free copies away.  Its top editor admits many students do not even know Duke still has a yearbook.  The publication’s budget is being slowly slashed.  And more questions than ever are being raised about its relevance in the Internet era.

As Chronicle staff writer Ryan Brown writes, “In an era of Facebook photos and digital cameras, when every student group has a website and every basketball game can be Tivo-ed into permanence, one of Duke’s oldest student organizations is staring down a life-or-death question: does anyone care about the yearbook anymore?

In a separate Chronicle report on the yearbook’s recent budget battle, a Duke senior is similarly quoted saying, “There is no reason why we should be giving $80,000 to the yearbook when we have things like Facebook.”

Will Duke join Mississippi State University, Mount Holyoke College, Purdue University, Towson University, and the University of Virginia “on the growing list of schools that no longer print a student yearbook”?  (In fall 2008, the University of Texas student media director told ABC News that there are roughly 750 yearbooks still publishing at U.S. colleges and universities, “far fewer than there were 10 years ago or 40 years ago.”)

Even a free price tag is apparently not enough enticement.  I see the same sad reality at the University of Tampa, where an overwhelming majority of students are either uninterested in owning a quality yearbook offered without any charge or entirely ignorant of its existence.

Why should these books retain a place on campuses, in print form?  A Duke publications adviser: “Of course people have their Facebook pictures and everything, but it’s so impermanent.  You’re not going to pick that up years from now and say, ‘Here’s what was happening at Duke while I was there.’  There’s something to be said still for having a book.”

2 Responses to “Duke Chanticleer: ‘Portrait of a Yearbook’ as an Old Man”
  1. joey vaz says:

    the biggest reason for this declining trend is definitely the social networking websites,because people are more active on these websites in the last 2 years and its usage has surgedmaking a classic like the yearbook redundant.

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  1. […] This past week, a CNN Money report  became the latest in a long line of to-hell-in-a-handbasket stories concerning the fate of print yearbooks.  (My most recent post on the subject– “Duke Chanticleer: ‘Portrait of a Yearbook’ as an Old Man”). […]