Junior Russ Rizzo was elected editor in chief of The GW Hatchet for the 2001-02 academic year by the newspaper’s editorial board March 10. He plans to change the perception of The Hatchet on campus, reach out to readers and gain more trust and respect from students.
Rizzo, a journalism major from Atlanta, started writing for The Hatchet early in his GW career. Attending the last Colonial Inauguration, Rizzo said he visited The Hatchet’s office and told a news editor he wanted to write.
He was told to sign his name on a list and he would be contacted for an assignment. Rizzo said to the editor, “No you don’t understand, I want to write.” He was again told to put his name on the list, and he would be called soon. Rizzo responded, “No you don’t understand, I want to write now.”
His persistence paid off, and received his first assignment before classes even began – the freshman move-in story.
This persistence is what defines Rizzo’s tenure at The Hatchet. In his positions as assistant news editor his sophomore year and managing editor this year, Rizzo has constantly pushed and challenged the staff to produce the best work it can.
“If we are dragging after a long weekend, he is always pushing, pushing, pushing, and that is what we need,” said Tim Donnelly, assistant news editor for The Hatchet.
Although Rizzo expects much from the staff, overshadowing everything is positive reinforcement. Golden hatchets, awards given to members of the staff each week for exceeding expectations, writers of the month and a Nintendo game system are a few things Rizzo has added this year to boost office spirit.
“He is good with morale building,” News Editor Kate Stepan said. “He is good at having fun in the office . but the best thing he brings is knowledge of the job.”
Rizzo’s mark on The Hatchet has far exceeded the expectations of current Editor in Chief Rich Murphy, who said he could not imagine this year without Rizzo as managing editor.
“Russ has expanded the role of managing editor beyond anything in recent memory,” Murphy said. “He has a willingness to experiment and break bad habits and go beyond what is expected. With all the returning staff and his leadership, (next year) the sky is the limit.”
Helping to rebuild The Hatchet with a staff of mostly rookie editors this year, Rizzo has striven for consistency in reporting fairly, objectively and accurately.
With only three seniors graduating, The Hatchet’s rookie staff turns veteran and the objectives will change, Rizzo said.
“Next year, we will be able to build from our strong foundation up and gain more recognition nationally for our hard work,” Rizzo said. “There is no reason why we cannot win a Pacemaker award, the highest award given in college journalism.”
Rizzo said he looks forward to stepping back from all the day to day maintenance of the paper and performing the broader role of the editor in chief position.