GWBlitz! folds amidst staff conflict

The GWBlitz! ceased production last month amidst conflict among staff members, the publisher and other University departments. After one and a half years of a monthly print edition and regular Web site updates, the December issue was the final edition of the Blitz.

“We really couldn’t put the money together,” publisher Derek Grosso said, explaining that by ending production now, the Blitz was able to “finish out strong, with some class, with some dignity.”

While Grosso cites editorial and economic causes for the closure, many former staff members disagreed with Grosso’s decision to discontinue the paper.

Former Blitz editor-in-chief Nell McGarity stepped down from her position after the December issue to take an outside internship.

“Every publication has its ups and downs … and when I was leaving my position, everything seemed to be all in a row,” McGarity said. She said she submitted her choice for a successor, junior Brooke Linville, to Grosso and Pagani prior to the announcement that the Blitz had folded.

The situation was complicated by the removal of computer equipment belonging to the University from the Blitz’s office in the Marvin Center.

Grosso said the Blitz needed to use the equipment to handle some final business, including collecting money owed to the Blitz and paying bills. Grosso said he brought it to his house “to consolidate everything.”

McGarity said she went back to the Blitz office to pick up her personal belongings and was surprised to find the equipment gone.

“I went into the office and everything was empty,” she said.

McGarity contacted Laura Taddeucci Downs, director of the Student Activities Center, and the Marvin Center filed a report with University Police.

Grosso said even though the Blitz stopped publishing, it is still a Student Activities Center-registered student organization and, under Student Association bylaws, the group can continue to use the equipment.

Pagani and Grosso said they were surprised to find out a few days ago that the Blitz is no longer registered.

If an organization becomes unregistered, it has 30 days to re-register with SAC before having to return all SA-funded materials, SA Finance Committee Chair Dan Moss said. Pagani said she is going to set up a meeting to re-register the Blitz.

Grosso, Pagani, Moss and Vishnu Murphy, SA vice president for financial affairs, met on Jan. 25 to clarify the computer situation, and now “everything is handled and taken care of,” Grosso said.

Moss said that although “there were some people making allegations on either side” and an apparent “internal conflict” among Blitz staffers, “nothing has technically been stolen.”

“They had no intention of not returning it,” Moss said.

However, University officials said that Grosso had no right to remove the computer equipment.

“No one has the right to take University property off campus without approval,” said Mike Gargano, associate vice president for Student and Academic Support Services.

Grosso said he did not know about the policy and would not have removed the equipment if he had.

Despite the controversy, editors said they were disappointed to see the Blitz go.

“It was a very big part of my GW experience. It had a lot of potential,” said former managing editor Sarah Mechum.

McGarity is proud of what she called the “mainstream success” that the Blitz achieved despite limited resources and the “unique” combination of magazine- and newspaper-style writing. She said staffers joked the Blitz was “this huge machine that was just held together with duct tape.”

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