Louis Nelson: My job is cooler than yours

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.

Even as I sit down to write the first sentence of the last thing I’ll ever write for this paper, it baffles me that somebody at The Hatchet thought it was a good idea to pay me to watch sports.

It’s really a pretty cool gig when you think about it. Yeah, there are a lot of late hours and long road trips and early flights involved, and yeah, sometimes coaches feed you three-sentence answers after a loss, but all things considered, there isn’t a better job on campus than the one I’ve been lucky enough to hold for the past year and a half.

The ironic thing is, there probably isn’t an address on campus with more complaints per building than 2140 G Street. Journalism, especially college journalism, is a needy thing. Reporters need interviews, editors need stories, photo needs you to budget and everyone probably needs a little extra sleep. It’s hard to walk into The Hatchet on a production night and not find someone calling a source for the third time in an hour, a closed-door screaming match or some staffers dealing with the reality that they have papers due tomorrow that they won’t be starting until after midnight. It would be easy to assume that everyone at The Hatchet hates their jobs, and I wouldn’t blame you for thinking it.

Looking back on it now though, all that negativity seems kind of silly to me. Of course, sometimes you have to vent a little bit and release your frustration, but the more I think about it, the more I start to regret every second I spent frustrated or upset with the demands of my job. I can’t say this for sure, but I’d be willing to wager that nobody had more fun doing their job this semester than I did. The opportunity to do something, anything, at as high a level as we do college journalism at The Hatchet is one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of. There’s a lot of luck involved in having the opportunity to write this today, so it seems like a good time to think about all the breaks that went my way, allowing me to get to this point.

Each year, graduating editors are given 30 final column inches - called 30 pieces - to reflect on their time at The Hatchet. Browse all.

I’m lucky, first, that Alberg ever let me write for his section as a clueless sophomore and I’m luckier still that he saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and let me cover women’s basketball. He was nice enough to let me learn the basics on the fly and coach me through some mistakes without destroying my confidence.

I’m lucky too that I got to work as a contributing editor for Dan, somebody whose talent is really only exceeded by his willingness to tolerate me while I shook off the rust of a semester abroad and teach me how to do my job the right way. I, more than anything, valued his praise, and having such incredibly big shoes to fill was the toughest part of my job this year.

I’m really lucky that Elizabeth is still willing to talk to me despite all the crap I’ve given her, and I’m lucky that I get to feel like I’m leaving the section in incredibly capable hands. All of you are lucky too, since you’ll get to read her stuff next year and beyond. She’s gonna be good.

I was incredibly lucky that Byers ever hired me to come on staff in the first place, and lucky that Nacin and Scire and the rest of the seniors made the awkward gangly new kid feel like he belonged. I tried not to show it, but I felt really cool when I talked to them.

Somehow, French has continued to trust me all year long and I’m probably lucky she hasn’t stabbed me. I would have run out of patience with myself a long time ago, and the fact that she continued to let me run my section pretty autonomously is incredible. The Hatchet itself is lucky too that she’s hanging around for another year. I can’t think of anybody else I’d want running the paper.

Being around talented people inspires you to do better work, and I was lucky to share an office with some of the most impressive people on campus. I can’t imagine doing the work that Gabe, Andrea, Amy, Morgenstern and Priya did this year, and I can’t imagine what it’s like for most of them to work for Emily Cahn. I would guess that there are probably some poop jokes involved though, and maybe a visit or two to the nearest stairwell.

I got lucky that my sports budget held out all year, that I got to spend a killer weekend in Portland with Viktors and that Anne managed to stay awake with me on the drives back from Pittsburgh. Philly and Richmond. I lucked out that Michelle, Chris, Jordan, Francis and the entire photo staff continually did some of their best work for my page.

I’m lucky Cory made it his mission to make my page look incredible this year, and I lucked out that Rachel, Allison and Shady Eve tolerated me demanding to write headlines on one of their computers. I’m lucky too that Hadley, Rachel, Dev and Connor kept the Internet working and got my liveblogs up and running. None of them get the credit they deserve.

As much as I complained about it, I am, I guess, lucky that I got to sit on ed-board with a group of people that thinks critically about the kinds of things that most students totally ignore. More than the hours we spent in ed-board though, I’ll remember Annu teaching me to dougie on the boardwalk in Ocean City and Lyndsey teaching me our secret handshake.

To her face, I’d probably joke that I’m lucky that I saw Erica at all this year, but behind her back, I’d tell you that I’m really lucky I met her at the beginning of my sophomore year when she convinced me to work for The Hatchet. With so much estrogen flying around the townhouse, I’m lucky too that Justin hung around most production nights to make tasteless jokes and grow beards with me.

I’m lucky that Domino’s changed its recipe, making the free pizza before basketball games that much more desirable. More than that, I’m lucky that GW’s teams, athletic department and sports information office are all populated by so many good and hard-working people who were willing to offer their help whenever they could.

Outside of The Hatchet, I’ve been lucky enough to have a group of friends willing to be my escape from the townhouse. Matt, Azim, K-Pax, Tyne and the rest of the girls have all been instrumental at one point or another in me not going insane, and they should know that I appreciate it.

I’ve said from day one that I’m preposterously lucky to have tricked somebody like Becky into dating me. I’m not sure where I’d be without her, but I can tell you that very little about my life would be as good if she and I had never met. Everything, Hatchet included, is better with her around.

And although I’d hate to admit it in print, I’m lucky that my mom and dad pushed me to join The Hatchet and pushed me to take advantage of every opportunity that came my way. I hope they feel like the 52 large per year was a good investment.

Really what all of it boils down to is that I’m lucky that The Hatchet came into my life when it did. It’s given me friendships and memories and hopefully a career path – gifts that I doubt I’ll ever be able to repay to such an amazing place. Working in the townhouse was the best decision I’ve ever made, and I’m lucky I ever got the chance. -30-

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