In a year that has seen continued GW successes as well as unspeakable tragedies, my hope is that The Hatchet has continued to serve as a vital resource and forum for the University community. In our 100th year of publication, the newspaper looked to continue its tradition as the GW newspaper of record, and although some members of the community disagreed with our decisions at times – and we certainly heard from you – I hope that we kept you reading and earned your respect in the process. Through more than 2,500 stories in 63 issues, I believe we conveyed information that was important to your life as a member of this community.
While most readers expect to sign online or pick up a brand-new paper every Monday and Thursday without any thought to the work involved in putting an issue together, I want to make sure everyone knows it’s not done without careful attention to every detail. From the time story ideas are conceived, to the 3 or 4 a.m. production nights when we read pages for the umpteenth time to make sure every comma is in the right place, a group of your fellow students put their hearts into making sure the community will be accurately informed and entertained.
I realized early on during my time here that The Hatchet is never going to please everyone and editors are going to make tough decisions that they will receive flack for. And although we make our share of mistakes, I feel The Hatchet, has on the whole, made thoughtful, ethical and appropriate decisions during extremely tough, deadline situations – about the same issues professional journalists grapple with every day. Covering death, suicides, financial issues, lawsuits and crime, we have tried to take news values, reader sensitivities, ethics and the goals of the newspaper into account as we decided what to run and where to run it. Although some professors are critical of student journalism and its lessons, it is my contention that there is no better training ground for professional journalism at GW than practicing it at The Hatchet.
Sadly, The Hatchet faced the death of one of its own members this year, leading us to take a step back and put ourselves in the shoes of those affected by the news. To the critics who charge us with sensationalism and lacking emotion, I would answer that The Hatchet is staffed by a team of passionate, sensible students. Our goal is to create an informed, more closely-linked campus community through our publication, and we do so with a keen eye focused on tact, emotional impact, newsworthiness and objectivity.
We tried to strike a balance this year between entertainment and news, the eternal debate between what you want to know and what you need to know. We try to accompany stories about the University’s budget decisions and zoning lawsuits with stories about students who make money through sperm donations and the latest fashion trends. I hope that we continue to be your source for which movies to see on the weekend as well as the place to go when you don’t understand why the University cut a specific program or when breaking news happens. I also hope that you continue to expect humor and wit from us in future April Fools’ editions, because despite this year’s issue, which crossed the line at times, we attempt to be your annual home for sarcasm. As a newspaper that strives to be taken seriously and respected by sources, students and outsiders, I would argue that we do a comprehensive, professional job of covering the community the rest of the year.
I’d like to close by thanking readers for your continued allegiance to The Hatchet – for calling us when you hear about an important story and writing a letter when you feel passionately about an issue, for criticizing us for doing something wrong or commending us when we did something right, and by taking a few moments to speak with our reporters even if you have something else to do. We can only improve our coverage and ensure that we are fully and properly informing the public about things they should know about through continued feedback and a healthy working relationship. And so we close our 100th year on campus. Here’s to 100 more.
-The writer, a senior majoring in political communication, is Hatchet editor in chief.
This article appeared in the April 29, 2004 issue of the Hatchet.