To be honest, I’m really not sure what first drew me to The Hatchet. I’ve always been a nosy bastard and an old St. Louis Post-Dispatch article I recently dug up proves that even as a 7-year-old, I was capable of grilling a reporter on obscure baseball statistics. But I haven’t taken a single journalism class at GW, and I’ve never really considered making a career of news writing. Looking back, I guess it just occurred to me that writing for the school newspaper might not be a bad way to spend four years.
And it hasn’t. From those nonchalant beginnings sprung the passion of my college career. My first article was covering a Macedonian pianist named Simon Trpceski (side note: the prime minister of Macedonia was in attendance, making him, to date, the only head of government I’ve interviewed. But watch out, Silvio Berlusconi), and since then, I’ve written more than 100 articles and assigned and edited several hundred more. I first experienced the drama and thrill ride that is a Hatchet production night in December of 2005, and now I can’t imagine a Sunday that doesn’t involve frantic calls to reporters and sources and lengthy arguments over whether “School of Business” can be abbreviated in a headline. For good or bad, much of my time in Foggy Bottom has revolved around The Hatchet.
I feel as though it’s been for good. At The Hatchet I’ve worked with some of the most impressive students GW has to offer. When I interviewed to be a news editor as a sophomore I said that what separated The Hatchet from everyone else was the tenacity of its staffers. I volunteered the example of Brandon Butler, who once drove to the house of the Board of Trustees chairman in the middle of the night to get a comment. Tenacity, perseverance – that’s what I liked about The Hatchet.
There’s a much subtler side as well, one that I learned about after I was hired as the assistant news editor. It’s not just about bulldozing sources and cranking out killer ledes, it’s also about getting to know the campus so well that you recognize every face in Rice Hall. It’s about talking campus issues with your fellow editors for hours on end. It’s about making friends with politicos so they’ll open up and tell you things that go beyond their script. It’s about working with inexperienced freshman reporters and turning them into the next generation of Hatcheteers.
Perhaps most importantly, it’s about finding a community in a school where such a thing can be hard to find. Knowing that everyone else was working just as hard as I was to make a product we could be proud is what made me work as hard as I did. And I think it’s also what makes The Hatchet one of the best college newspapers in the country, what inspires staffers to make those midnight runs to Kalorama mansions.
Not that it has always been perfect. Like just about everyone who works here, there were times where I wanted to throw in the towel and try my hand at something entirely different. The Hatchet is a stressful place where egos collide regularly and the pressure of putting out two papers a week can make you kick chairs, throw things around the room and storm out of the building, vowing never to return.
But I always came back.
Recently, someone asked me after I’d checked my BlackBerry for the third time in as many minutes if I could stop thinking about the Hatchet 24 hours a day and possibly relax for once. I didn’t know how to answer. As clichéd as it might be to say it, The Hatchet has become a part of me. Being a Hatchet editor is as much a part of my identity as being an American, a Colts fan or one of two Jewish guys from Indiana (we do exist). At The Hatchet, I’ve had the camaraderie and sense of purpose that is hard to find anywhere, not just at GW. And seeing as I’m finally entering the real world and the worst job market since 1933, I can’t say I’m glad to be leaving my home on G Street.
Now for some much-deserved shout-outs:
Lizzie: Thanks for giving an unknown freshman some great assignments back in my first semester. Butler: You chewed me out when I screwed up, and I was a better reporter for it. Ceasar: You sometimes made me want to deck a paraplegic Girl Scout, but I also learned a lot from you.
Jess: You have the patience I only wish I could have. And thanks for always taking my 3 a.m. phone calls.
Laura: I’d be lying if I said we were close friends. But after writing about you, I learned that you touched the lives of an incredible number of people. You’ve been missed.
Abnos: I’m sorry about the car.
Nacin: You’re like the son I hope I never have. Andrea: I forgive you for all crimes, past and future.
Joanna: People who you can trust with anything don’t come around very often, but you’re one of them. Diana: I look forward to having you represent me in court in a few years. Alberg: We’ll always have Dublin.
Tracy: You were a worthy foe.
Scire: I enjoyed every minute I worked with you, even when the knives we had at each other’s throats didn’t seem particularly metaphorical. I’m sure you’ll make a great senior news editor.
Byers: Good luck as EIC. Don’t forget that you’ve got one hell of a cranium and a temperament the rest of us envy.
Alexa: I really don’t know if you realize how highly people around here think of you. I hope you have fun in Paraguay, but don’t give up on journalism just yet. Maybe we can interview Bob Barr again.
Ramonas: You were a great editor and a genuinely nice person, which still confuses me.
Roper: When I first started working here I thought you were a homeless man who had wandered in off the street and started writing articles. I’m still not convinced otherwise, but I also think you’re one of the best college journalists around. I look forward to seeing big things from you in the future.
To my non-Hatchet friends: I met you on the first day in HOVA and haven’t said goodbye since. You guys MADE my time at GW.
To my family: You support me unconditionally and turned me into the person I am today. Mom, Dad, Danny: I owe you everything.
I’ve said what I want to say. I’m out. Later. –30–
This article appeared in the April 23, 2009 issue of the Hatchet.