Amanda Dick: Looking back with a smile

Each year, graduating editors are given 30 final column inches – “30” was historically used to signify the end of a story – to reflect on their time at The Hatchet, published in the final issues of the year.

Though my current post-graduation plans do not include journalism, the idea of leaving this demanding and rapidly changing field really saddens me. I’m not ready to say goodbye to the camaraderie of the newsroom, the excitement of breaking news, the pride after seeing classmates reading the paper in class, and definitely not the brilliant people crazy enough to pursue journalism.

I feel so privileged to have been part of the amazing group that cranks out two papers, a handful of blog posts and a bunch of tweets every week. I have never met a more dedicated and weird group of kids than The Hatchet staff.

There isn’t anything else in my college experience that was worth missing more than a few Tuesday nights at McFadden’s and some Friday evenings at Nooshi due to editing. College has been so unpredictable, but this year I knew I could count on The Hatchet publishing Mondays and Thursdays, production Wednesdays and Sundays, editing Tuesdays and Fridays, oh, and some more editing on Saturday.

I have been involved in lots of other campus activities throughout college, but without a doubt this is the most passionate group of people I’ve ever met. The paper is coming out Monday and Thursday, and this staff makes sure it happens, every time.

For most of my Hatchet experience as a writer, I was in awe of 2140 G St. and what went down inside was a mystery to me. For some reason I always thought all of my editors were professional and serious. Now I know we must put up a good front for writers who occasionally visit the office because after spending a little more time here, you’ll see it’s a strange group.

Depending on what moment you find us, we could be discussing legitimate production questions and fact-checking information in stories, or discussing totally politically incorrect story ideas for the April Fools issue and plotting the purchase of inappropriate Secret Santa gifts.

We are each other’s best support system and worst critics. I’m certainly not the toughest editor or reporter on staff, but The Hatchet has helped me develop a thicker skin and more so than anywhere else I expect to hear the truth from the staff, particularly the news editors. No one sugarcoats anything, and if you’re looking to be praised constantly for your writing, it doesn’t happen here.

My Hatchet experience began during my April visit to campus as a high school senior when my overnight host took me to The Hatchet office. I was beyond impressed by the police radio in the newsroom. In reality there isn’t someone sitting by the radio at every moment, as I thought then, but we still do a pretty good job on our breaking news.

Early into freshman year I went to The Hatchet open house where I met Jess Calefati, who shortly after began calling me to take stories. The first event I ever covered was Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane’s visit to campus. The story that appeared in the paper looked absolutely nothing like what I turned in, but I was overjoyed to have my very own byline.

I think the only reason I kept getting stories at first was that I kept saying yes, since many of my stories really didn’t look like mine at all after it went through the editor chain. I loved seeing my improved stories in the paper with my name on it. I especially loved it when people noticed. “Intelligent students decrease” during April visits my sophomore year was a real winner.

What I loved as a writer and still love about journalism is having experiences that I would have never had without having to write a story on it. I’ve met Ralph Nader, Wolf Blitzer, Stephen Breyer, John Bolton because of The Hatchet, and interviewed lots of lesser-known people with interesting stories to tell.

I was a loyal writer for two and a half years, then did what many editors sacrificed in the name of Hatchet devotion and studied abroad in Spain. I interviewed for an editor position over Skype with Byers. Suddenly I was back in D.C. having not written many English words at all for a semester, but I quickly learned there was little to no catch-up time and we hit the ground running.

After this year, it’s hard to imagine my life without Hatchet responsibilities. I’m sure I’ll find new ways to fill my new free time during the last few weeks of senior year, but I’m certain I’m going to miss all those hours of “Hatcheting.”

To my writers, thank you for when you sent your stories in on time and when you went above and beyond what I asked. It’s been so rewarding and fun to see you all develop and improve.

To the news staff,

Byers: Your dedication to the details and quality of journalism make this paper what it is. Thanks for making sure we always hold ourselves to a high standard.

Scire: You’re one of the smartest and wittiest people I’ve ever met. I wouldn’t have made it this year without you.

Cahn: Though I have a year in life on you, you have immeasurable journalistic instinct on me. Thanks for your guidance and tolerance of my stupid questions. – Penis

French: You’ll own it next year. Good luck! I’ll be reading.

Hadas: Fellow senior, good luck in the real world. I’m sure you’ll be as good as Tina Brown but probably better.

Amy: Without a doubt, you’re one of the most dependable people on staff. You work so hard and it should be recognized more.

Goodbye Hatchet, I wish you all many more issues worthy of Golden Hatchets. -30-

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