Brendan Polmer: Obviously, not in it for the money

As any editor at The Hatchet will attest, there are several perks that come along with the job, no matter which section you control (news, sports, life, opinions, arts). Seeing your name in print, having editorial control over content, being in charge of a group of writers, feeling elitist – these are all reasons.

One of my favorite perks, however, is the pay. As the Arts editor, a once-a-week section, I get $40 per issue! I suck at math, but I think that comes out to somewhere around, um, $40 a week. Now before you throw down this paper in shock (I know, it’s a lot of money for one student), keep in mind that it took some time to earn that much. I mean, Donald Trump didn’t make his billions all at once either. My junior year I made about $25 an issue, and before that I made about, oh, $0 an issue.

Ok, so the pay sucks. Who am I kidding? I put in about 15 to 20 hours a week finding content, assigning and editing stories and putting the page together with the production staff – so, according to the national minimum wage rate today, I should be making at the very least twice of what I make now.

But I’ve never bitched about it. I’m not even going to moan about it now. If I was the editor for any other section I probably would – in fact, I probably would have quit. No, being the arts and entertainment editor had its own perks and bonuses unique to the position that you won’t find in any benefits package at any other job – even in the REAL world.

I’m talking, of course, about free shit. FREE SHIT! I’ve got so much free shwag I don’t even know what to do with it most of the time. I’m up to my ears in it. CDs, DVDs, pointless promotional materials, TV and movie screeners, passes, concert tickets, guest list spots.

I don’t go shopping anymore. Instead, people see me wearing a “Vantage Point” hoodie, or a “Family Guy” t-shirt. And like most of you, I rarely buy music anymore – but I don’t steal it, either.

Look, we’re a small section with an average of one and a half pages per week. If I were to give coverage to every single CD, DVD, movie, theater performance and art gallery that approaches me, we’d be even bigger and more pretentious than Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and SPIN – combined. So what do I do with it all? I keep it. Or give it away to my writers or friends or other Hatchet staff.

Aside from all the freebies, there’s so much more that I can brag about. Since first writing for the section during my freshman year, I’ve gotten the chance to interview and talk to artists such as Citizen Cope, Grace Potter, Matisyahu, The Hives, Regina Spektor, Lyrics Born and so many others. And I’ve had the chance to see so many great artists for review purposes, ranging from the Smashing Pumpkins reunion at 9:30 Club to Stevie Wonder at Verizon Center, and all the small, sometimes wonderful, sometimes terrible indie bands from both inside and outside of the District. And even though The Hatchet refused to pay for my flight and hotel, I was able to obtain press credentials to attend and report on the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, for the past three years.

So all in all, it’s been a good run. Over the past four years here I’ve made so many friends from this job, some of whom I’ve done terrible, indecent things with both inside and outside of the little townhouse on 22nd and G.

First and foremost, I have to thank the previous editors before me who helped shape, mold and transform me into the editor I am today – Sacha Evans, Maura Judkis and Jeffrey Parker – you guys rock, and I am so glad that I have gotten drunk with each of you at some point along the way. To my contributing editors who helped me crank out an issue each week – Jake DiGregorio, Caitlin DeMerlis and Amanda Pacitti – I couldn’t have done any of this without you. Ali Hagan and Alex Abnos: I can’t thank you enough for your dedication, patience and brilliant creativity in breathing life into the section week after week during long production nights. And to all my writers (that’s right, all 70-something of you.) you’re all amazingly talented individuals with potentially wonderful writing opportunities and careers in your future, and I only wish that I could have assigned you each more stories.

There’s so many other Hatchet staff members that I could go on and on writing about personal anecdotes and thank-yous to, but I have to mention Jake Sherman, editor in chief. If I had to compare Jake to any fictitious character it would be Ari Gold from Entourage – spastic, smart, angry, impatient and hilarious.

See, Jake and I go way back in Hatchet history. He was a sports editor when I first became a contributing arts editor, and we quickly became friends over our combined love of music from the first time we hung out in a bar in Ocean City, Md., during one of the infamous Hatchet retreats. I suppose it was weird at first, having a friend and equal colleague suddenly become my superior – but whenever I fucked up and he had to yell at me, he’d always compensate by buying me a beer or inviting me to a concert, which I appreciate. I also appreciate his abolishment of the Sunday noon staff meetings, which I think both he and I will agree did not mix well with Saturday nights.

I came into GW as a freshman in 2004 with absolutely no idea what I wanted to study or pursue as a career. My attitude with just about everything in life has always been, “Eh, I’ll figure it out eventually, or at the last minute at least.” Had it not been for The Hatchet, there’s no telling what I would have chosen to study here at GW. I sort of hated all of my general curriculum requirements that the Columbian College was forcing me to take, but The Hatchet helped me discover a new passion: journalism. I’ve got the bug now. All I want to do is tell stories and make $28,000 a year doing it. YES!

I can’t wait for real life after The Hatchet, but I will always miss it. It’ll be fun getting a real paycheck for once, but with that I will lose the privilege of hoarding free arts shwag for purely selfish reasons. Oh well, we all have to move on eventually I suppose.


Brendan Polmer is The Hatchet’s arts and entertainment editor. He began writing for The Hatchet in 2004.

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