Last Saturday a recent GW alumna, Imette St. Guillen, was found brutally murdered in New York City. While many prominent national daily newspapers and news networks, including The New York Times, ran multiple stories on her death upon learning the news, The Hatchet chose to wait until its Thursday print edition to first inform the GW community about her death. Why would the University newspaper elect to wait three days to bother to inform the readers it has served for more than 100 years about the loss of a community member?
As a former Hatchet editor in chief, I am well aware of the constraints of only publishing print editions twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays. The Hatchet faces major financial restrictions limiting the newspaper’s ability to print on a more frequent basis. However, with the advent of the Internet, newspapers such as the Hatchet have the opportunity to constantly keep their readers informed about important breaking news, free of the shackles of a print edition.
Unconstrained by space or money, the Web is a valuable tool at The Hatchet’s disposal, and the newspaper has made great use of it during the past few years. The recent addition of blogs, photo galleries and consistent Web updates about breaking stories have greatly added to the newspaper’s coverage. While I understand the newspaper does not have NYC metro reporters and would not expect The Hatchet to break the news, why not immediately pounce on the story upon reading about it in other sources?
Among the issues The Hatchet has deemed important enough to break online during the past year include the results of nearly every basketball game, a special report on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 9:17 pm on the possibility of a restaurant moving into Quigley’s by January 2007, and a Friday, Sept. 30 special report at 3:15 pm on barely-known radio personality Jim Bohannon hosting a show out of WRGW studios.
I am not second-guessing The Hatchet’s judgment on any of these stories and on the contrary, I was always an advocate for placing fresh content on the Web site every day. What I am questioning is why the staff did not deem it necessary to inform readers about a story of vital import. She was not some obscure GW alumna; rather, it was someone who graduated from GW less than three years ago who still has friends on campus.
During my time as an editor, the staff made it one of its priorities to ensure the Hatchet Web site became the first place the GW community turned to for any important University news from basketball games to school closings to student and alumni deaths. I believe the newspaper was successful in that mission. As an alumna who only graduated in 2003, Ms. St. Guillen surely must have friends, acquaintances and faculty members who remember her well and deserve to learn about the news in a timely manner. While it may appear I am nitpicking about a small story, and maybe I am, I fear the slow move to report the story exhibits a greater misunderstanding by The Hatchet that its audience is limited to current undergraduates – forgetting the thousands of alumni, families and community members that currently log in for news about GW.
-The writer, a graduate student in security policy studies, served as Hatchet editor in chief during the 2003-2004 school year.