For some reason, when I get reminiscent and wishy-washy about things, a song lyric from a Grateful Dead song always pops into my head.
What a long, strange trip it’s been, Jerry Garcia sings in Truckin’.
I am not quite sure why that line always consumes me when I look back – I’m not a Deadhead or anything, it’s not my favorite song, and it’s not on my burgeoning repertoire of songs I can play on my guitar.
Perhaps it’s just because it’s so fitting. I came to GW more interested in politics than in journalism – I am a political communication major. I came to an open house at The Hatchet freshman year and went to the sports department. So I started schlepping my ass to South Riding, Va., for a bunch of women’s soccer games. That hard work paid off, and I became the sports editor. And somehow, that series of events got me from a person casually interested in journalism and sports to the editor in chief of The Hatchet.
That’s my long, strange trip. I kind of equate it to Monopoly (bear with me). It’s kind of like if you are in the Just Visiting space on the board, and from there you suddenly and mysteriously end up in jail (not to imply that The Hatchet is anything like jail). I was kind of just visiting The Hatchet, and, four years later, it’s totally consumed me. That’s why I am going to talk about it for a few paragraphs rather than some other topic.
People endlessly complain in the pages of The Hatchet, or to Hatchet staffers, that they have a thankless job or that people don’t appreciate what they do. Little do these people realize that we usually don’t care about their whining, because often we feel the same way. Think about our situation next time you feel unappreciated for what you do, and look around for a more sympathetic ear.
We get lots of angry letters and phone calls, and angry people stomping up the stairs at 2140 G St. to say their piece to me or to anyone who will listen. Sometimes we deserve it – we are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. We do make mistakes, and we don’t necessarily cover everything that should be covered.
However, we do a damn good job most of the time, twice a week. After having been to newspaper conferences and seeing lots of other college papers, I’d go so far as to say we are one of the better non-daily papers in the nation. And that’s certainly not because of me, or because of any single group of editors, but because we have created a tradition and an organization that is built to succeed, to create good newspapers and to sustain itself as an organization independent of the University.
And something people lose sight of (this goes for any student involved in a group) – we do a good job while doing other things. Every editor here works about 30 hours a week, usually in addition to another internships and classes. And everyone on staff, almost without exception, is a solid student. We also manage to maintain our sanity and have lives away from here.
So when we do screw up (and we will screw up again), please remember these things. No matter who you are, we are not out to get you, to bring you down, to ridicule you. We don’t put wrong facts in stories on purpose – it truly pains us when we make errors.
To our peers, we are students, just like you. We are simply trying to provide the best service we can to you. To administrators, our goal is not to say you are wrong at every chance we get – we simply try to pick out what is most important for the GW community to know.
We are just trying to do the best we can.
I know at least one person outside of The Hatchet knows that. Jenn, I have thanked you endlessly for putting up with this holy grail of mine this year and apologized profusely for the strain it has put on our relationship. But I am not sure I can ever fully show you how much I appreciate how you’ve stood by me this last year (actually reading The Hatchet!) and how you’ve understood what I am going through. Throughout my college years, you have been the one constant in my life, the one thing I could count on, a bright star when others seemed dim. I love you so very much.
Next, thanks to the many talented and dedicated people who put out The Hatchet twice each week – those people I have had the pleasure both to work with and to become friends with:
Margaret, I don’t think I could have had a better partner to help me get through 63 issues of this paper we’ve committed our college lives to. You were my greatest strength all year, because whatever I couldn’t handle, you could; when I was angry, you could be calm; when I was feverish or became bleary-eyed, I could count on you to do your job the best you could. And through it all, I gained a great friend who I know I can always count on. There’s no way I can thank you enough for accompanying me and propping me up on this journey.
Francesca, the newspaper who lands you will be a very lucky publication. No matter what anyone else tells you (or what you think about yourself) you did a great job this year. We couldn’t have had a better news editor. I’m just glad I had a chance to work with you and learn from your determination to get tough stories into print. I’m glad I could come along for the ride.
Ali, I don’t think anyone ever truly appreciates what you’ve done for The Hatchet. I don’t remember you ever missing deadline (something almost on one can say at any newspaper). That has always helped keep the paper running smoothly, even when chaos reigned around you. I’ll miss seeing you drunkenly dance up to me at Mister Days, but I am sure I’ll see you at some other D.C. bar soon.
Berger, I’ll always admire you for your skill at this thing we call journalism and at your work ethic. Thanks for being there for me this year when I needed someone to lend me an ear, or to pick up the slack when it needed to be picked up. And I am sorry about all the U-Wire jokes, as are the wild turkeys, the kangaroos and Hurricane Floyd.
Rich, I was impressed with your drive from the start, both at The Hatchet and in everything else you do. You’re going to do a great job next year. If you ever need advice or someone whose ass you kick in tennis, give me a yell.
Russ, you’re a freak. Don’t hit on the editors and other staff under you, because you might get in trouble. Besides those words of wisdom, I just want to tell you to stay enthusiastic, and try to infuse the enthusiasm you have in next year’s staff.
Dave, you were both my arch-nemesis and a great editor for me. I am just glad I will no longer have to match wills with you, because it exhausts me. Thanks for more than I ever wanted to know about basketball and a million laughs.
Zach, you impressed me with your work ethic ever since you started covering volleyball games for me. Have fun with sports next year, it’ll be your baby. I look forward to see where you take it.
Matt, you are such a talented photographer – it was a pleasure looking at the Hatchet’s photographs this year. I hope all those rhetorical debates with Dave got you ready for law school.
Grant, you take pretty pictures, too. I am sure they will be great again next year. Thanks for providing us with constant comic relief, and I am sure you will keep the editorial staff smiling next year as well.
Theresa, The Hatchet will definitely miss your ability to find and write a good news story. I’m not sure how a journalist can be as good as you are and still be as a nice person as you are, but you manage to pull it off.
Gayle, you took the features section to new heights, and it’s a shame you’re leaving. Get Theresa and look me up when you get out of school so we can start our band in earnest.
Steven, I could always count on you to be cool, calm and collected when chaos surrounded you in the newsroom. Thanks for doing a great job.
Pete, thanks for the hot design in The Hatchet all year. And thanks for hanging out at 4 a.m. after long Wednesday nights.
Evan, I’ll remember your name if I ever have to go in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Matt, thanks for making
my guitar sound better than I can play it. And to everyone in production – Neil, Greg, Maryanne – you guys are the nuts and bolts of the paper. Thanks for helping us get 60-plus issues out.
Gladys, I appreciate you sticking with The Hatchet, because you’d be valuable here wherever you would work. And I’ll miss your infectious smile.
Andrew, I appreciate you sticking with us, too, even when things were rough in our newly formed Web department. You deserve all the credit in the world for doing a great job with the Web site.
Steve, thanks for helping me through this year. You are the most valuable asset The Hatchet has. I hope the paper can survive if you ever choose to ply your talents elsewhere.
Mike, I hope you are enjoying your first job in the real world, even if you are still surrounded by students. Thank God you took the job, because this year would have been hell without you.
To those who came before me: Becky, thanks for always encouraging me and making me believe in myself. Dave, thanks for helping me create all those sports sections with smoke and mirrors. Matt and Ben, thanks for giving me a chance here.
And to those coming on board – Ashley, Jason, Sarah, Kate, Mike, Sean, Drew and Cindy: I knew all of you, some better than others. But I do know how talented all of you are, and how dedicated you have been to the paper. Thank you for this year, and I know the paper is in capable hands. And Zeb, are you going to follow me after you leave here, too?
And a special thanks to Ashley and Melissa for catching all the stuff (at least most of it) that the rest of us missed.
And then outside of that all-consuming sphere known as The Hatchet:
Jon, thanks for four great years of living together. When I hear horror stories about freshman year roommates, I feel lucky that I got not only a good one in you, but a good friend as well. Remember me when you are making the big bucks after you get through med school (and you will get there, trust me).
Jade-Snow, thanks for always being there to listen. You are wise beyond your years, even though you are only what, like, 17 now? All kidding aside, you have been a great friend to me, and a great advice-giver. And thanks for introducing me to crack. Oops, I said all kidding aside.
The other Jennifer Ann K., your ability to drink every night of the week is really impressive. Thanks for showing me what it is like to kick back and have a good time. Just leave some guys for the rest of the girls.
Chris and Joe, perhaps you’ll read this if I get around to telling you about it. Even though we aren’t as close as we once were, you guys on my heels and supporting me at the same time got me through high school and to what I have done at college. And we had some fun along the way. I hope we’ll still have Mr. Pickles and St. Patty’s Day.
Professor Crowe, your class was by far my most enjoyable here at GW. You made it possible for me to do this job. I’m sorry I am not going into journalism right now, but perhaps someday the calling will come back to me.
Professor Manheim, thanks for guilt-tripping me into my senior thesis. I am glad I did it and I am glad you pushed me to do it. And thanks for the good grade.
Dad, I could never have gotten here without you. I really think parents could take a lesson from how you brought me up. Even when I was a kid, you almost always treated me like an adult. Instead of punishing me or yelling at me, you always encouraged me and made me learn from my mistakes. Almost all of who I am today I owe to you. You done good. And I love you with all my heart.
Finally, Mom, if there is a heaven, I know you are there. When I was thinking about becoming editor in chief of The Hatchet, I asked myself a million questions, but the most important was probably, What would Mom want me to do? I knew you would not want me to step away from a challenge, and I knew how proud of me you would be if I could do this job. So, in the end, I did it for you. I just wish you could have shared it all with me.