Column: Glitch causes late night

We have all experienced it at some point in our collegiate careers.

Imagine a 24-page paper you labor over all semester long that includes well-written prose, a carefully planned out presentation and a special colorful insert that will enthrall your class and professor. Imagine two days before the due date, a groundbreaking event takes place that changes the face of the paper – a new war, a new peace or a revolutionary find – that requires hours of preparation. Adapting to the new challenge is difficult, but necessary.

And then it all disappears, like it did for us yesterday.

The news business is not easy. Editing a newspaper requires flexibility, which often comes from learning and experience. Although the challenges an editor faces often come from affected readers, today’s paper presented a challenge on a scale this newspaper’s staff has not experienced in some time.

Filled with well-researched articles about the upcoming IMF protest, GW’s decision to close school, students agitated over their “eviction,” a high-profile rap concert and an eight-page sports spread, The Hatchet was set to run the best issue yet this year – and we still hope we have.

But just like the research paper that encompassed your heart and soul that gets lost when your computer crashes, the latest Hatchet was plagued by a corrupted file server that ultimately set back our production.

Technology has become such a vital part of our education – and the news business – that a task once customarily performed without the benefit of automation now seems unworkable. But technology woes present the opportunity for creativity and not just negativity.

Today’s paper is just that – a work of creativity produced without the benefit of much of the technology we often take for granted. Equipped with an impromptu Hatchet Hotmail account and a staff of understanding writers and editors who avoided becoming discouraged, we managed to reconstruct in one night two weeks worth of planning and hard work.

Unfortunately, many of you might not see the fruit of this fantastic effort until Monday afternoon or, if you have only morning classes, Tuesday morning.

If you happened to catch a midsummer episode of “Sex and the City” this summer, you might realize our problem is not unique.

Sarah Jessica Parker, or Carrie Bradshaw as many of you know her, writes a column that offers advice about sex and relationships. But, last summer, a lifetime of writing became the victim of a nasty computer virus. She lost all her work, and although her story is completely fictitious, the episode was tinged with a serious message: back everything up. She, of course, failed to do so.

For us, our problem was a bit more serious because our back-up system also went down.

But in the grand scheme of things, losing an issue’s worth of work is not the end of the world. We may get a few hours less sleep, we may have a new distaste for technology and we may have once again failed to hit the racks for the early morning shift, but it could be worse. Just ask Carrie.

-The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs, is Hatchet managing editor.

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