For 90 years, doing a hatchet job has felt pretty darn good

For the past 90 years, GW’s student journalists have aspired to do a hatchet job.

What were they thinking back in 1904 when they came up with the name The Hatchet? What were the other suggestions, The Shoddy? The Yellow? I can imagine that meeting:

“Hey, how about The Muckraker?”

“Good deprecation, but we have to incorporate the George Washington motif.”

Of course, that’s the important thing. This is the school that gave you The Cherry Tree Yearbook and Wooden Teeth, so at least we’re not the campus publication with the cheesiest GW-inspired name. If we had a student porno mag, it would probably be called Martha’s Secret.

It’s nice to have an interesting name, though. It reminds us that we’re still a bunch of students with a long way to go to reach the professional journalism ranks, while simultaneously providing our detractors with witty ammunition.

But we Hatcheteers know how to have fun with the name, too. The Whack it, The Switch-it, The Quit-it, The Fake-it, The Spank-it, The Scratch-it and The Hack-it have graced the flag on April Fools Day issues in recent years. As you can see, subtlety is our policy. I’m suggesting The Hire-us for the 1995 hoax-`n’-joke edition.

I’m told you can’t succeed in journalism without having worked for at least one weirdly-named paper. The Hatchet fills that box for us. Now we won’t have to take jobs at The Podunk HoundDawg or some such. Well . we won’t have to take jobs there because of the name.

Oddly-named or not, this paper brings a sense of community and continuity to this campus like no other institution. At a school with few long-held traditions, The Hatchet existed before any of us came here – in fact, before GW came to Foggy Bottom (or FoBo, as I’m trying to get people to call it to add a dash of haute couture).

Of course, there have been some changes over the years. What’s now The GW Hatchet has been The University Hatchet and even just The Hatchet at times. My years here have seen many exciting changes, things like new computers and updated design. Also the University doesn’t own us anymore, and we have our own townhouse.

Of course, the University owns the townhouse, so we try not to get too many funny ideas: “If you liked The Hatchet, you’ll love Martha’s Secret!” the banner, front page, 72-point, bold, italic headline would say.

But this paper is still The Hatchet. I feel honored to write news and a column in the same pages that so many who came before me did.

One of my past favorites is Dick Wolfsie’s “Wolf’s Whistle” column from 1967. We could change the names, run it today, and it would still be hilarious.

I recall a quote from one of his columns: “While I am quite aware that many people do not consider my column very amusing, I am optimistic enough to believe that a few people read my comments religiously each week.”

They still do. Wolf’s Whistle may not run anymore, but they read its legacy. They read The Hatchet.

-John Rega

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