The main focus of The Hatchet is and always will be gathering and reporting the news, but Grant Wernick wants to make the package it comes in as appealing as possible.
While photography has almost always been a part of The Hatchet’s pages, Wernick, this year’s photo editor, has overseen changes that bring art to the fore.
“We are really trying to emphasize our photos in the paper, not that we haven’t before,” Wernick said. “We are really trying to run bigger photos, and we have color photos in the paper all the time.”
Under gentle insistence from Wernick and with a new, larger tabloid sheet size, the staff now often runs more and larger pictures. And color photos, a rare occurrence just a few years ago, are now the norm at The Hatchet. Wernick and his staff have the freedom to bring color into their photography nearly every week as advertisers willing to pay for color ads offset the cost. When the print edition is black and white, the Web site shows the color versions.
“As a staff I think we have shot twice as much film as we have in the past,” Wernick said. “We want to show more about the events that we cover, so if the photos didn’t run in the paper, we put them on the Web.”
The small changes in the emphasis in photography were evident in The Hatchet’s coverage of the events surrounding the events of Sept. 11. Wernick took an astounding shot of the wreckage at the Pentagon, and The Hatchet ran it as a half-page color photo on the front of the issue.
Wernick, fellow editor Michael Itti and their predecessors have been able to make advances in The Hatchet’s photography for a variety of reasons.
It used to be common for photo editors to be more like staff photographers, shooting the bulk of events in addition to editing duties. But Wernick and Itti have cultivated a staff of six photographers they count on to do most of the work in the field, leaving them more time to concentrate on editing and improvements to the photo department.
“We’ve worked hard on recruiting and training our staff,” Wernick said. “This is the first time we have had so many students with some pretty professional gear.”
Technology has also freed up photo editors’ time and increased the quality of the photography. The Hatchet this year bought a new negative scanner to replace its first one, which was bought in the mid-90s.
And more color photos also means editors spend less time in the darkroom as an off-campus vendor develops the color film.
For Wernick, it’s all means to an end – better photos in the paper and a better overall Hatchet.
“I think we really value photography more as a paper now,” Wernick said. “We are looking at it as a way to enhance every section of the paper.”