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.
I used to say that only two things could make me cry. As a kid, I sobbed when my baseball team lost. When I got a bit older, an inevitable breakup would send me into tears.
It seemed pretty clear to me that the deep pain was healthy, even if it would swell in my gut around relatively trivial things. Besides, writers have already used up plenty of ink penning tributes to both lovers and failed baseball teams, so I knew I was doing something right.
But I recently discovered the third thing.
As I walked home alone last week from at 2140 G St. on an early Monday morning for the final time, that heartache kicked in again. And it felt more hollow this time.
You see, you can always bounce back from breakups. You can always count on the baseball season to start again. With The Hatchet, that’s all she wrote. In the last week, I’ve been trying to figure out how to cope.
After four years that got me addicted to coffee, front-page designs, anecdotal ledes and that silly feeling I would always get in the townhouse after midnight, it feels unfair to have to say goodbye.
A smart, driven, twisted band of students have poured their souls into this newspaper for the sake of art, information, education or not wanting to let their friends down. I knew within the first few weeks Rachel hired me as a production assistant that I’d find a home here, but I never thought the connections would define my college years.
At The Hatchet, design gave me a creative outlet, news reporting delivered my journalism education and serving as editor in chief was the most fun thing I’ve ever done.
Yes, it’s empowering to manage a newspaper, set a vision in place and watch talented people deliver scoops, build interactives and cover this campus during times of conflict, progress and grief. But the people here make The Hatchet what it is.
The people here aren’t afraid to love, and they aren’t afraid to embrace their strange sides and unfiltered jokes. They embrace the best parts of college journalism – the struggle to do good work and still care for the people sweating beside you.
This place has the perfect mechanisms to both humble and inspire its staffers. For reporters or photographers, it’s cool to break a story or nail a shot and land on the front page. For me, I got to see the paper grow into a news weekly with deeper coverage, national recognition and a new townhouse.
I felt pretty good about it all – like I accomplished something others had not.
But that’s when The Hatchet’s history kicked in. As I packed up and sorted through the old photographs, newspapers and documents strewn throughout 2140 G St. – a cruel, metaphor-laden ending to my Hatchet tenure – I felt like I had been put in my place.
For more than a century, Hatchet staffers have taken risks and moved the institution forward. Editorial writers called for the racial integration of the University long before it was popular. Reporters marched through tanks and tear gas to get the latest story on Vietnam protests. Two decades ago, editors won the newspaper’s independence.
What I was doing wasn’t special. What’s special is that The Hatchet has pushed groups of GW students to work this hard and love this much for 110 years.
Thankfully, everything that’s important to me about The Hatchet isn’t packed away in a box, discarded or moved a block away. The people whom I have loved and who make this place hum will still breathe, work, live and continue to do great things. They’ll also still be my best friends.
Sarah: Inevitably, almost every friend and acquaintance during the past month have asked me how I feel about The Hatchet winding down. I go through the routine of detailing my sadness to leave this place. But every time I talk about the joys of working with you. You’re one of the people I admire most in this world. When you let me have this job, I figured I’d be happy if we ended up working well together. I didn’t think you’d also become one of my best friends.
Brianna: You have the ideal traits of a reporter and a leader of this paper: You’re tough and fearless, but sensitive and empathetic. Training to be editor in chief can make every Hatchet leader feel they’re swimming against a riptide of expectations. You’ll exceed them if you believe you will.
Jenna: You know what’s pretty weird, also neat? There aren’t many people in this world that have the kind of friendship we have. You’ve been a great design editor, an even greater roommate and an even greatest best friend. You make me a better human and I rely on you for sanity, empathy and silliness. In pretty much every photograph during the greatest times of my life, you’re at my side.
Chloé: Your friends and peers often praise your creativity and energy. But my favorite quality of yours often goes unsaid: You’re the person in my life whom I know is always telling me the full truth, no matter if it is harsh. Keep that up, because it makes you a tremendously valuable manager and an even better friend.
Allison: I’ll admit, you didn’t make a great first impression freshman year when you didn’t know who Jon Stewart was. But the downstairs prodo bond is tough to crack. Thanks for putting up with my pop music phase and for being a beautiful Hatchet prom date four years running.
Josh: Your wit and kindness make you one of the most charming people I’ve ever met. I didn’t get to see you as much this year but I always looked forward to editorial board meetings each week because it meant we got to catch up.
Mel: You’ve got the toughest (and most fun) job of any news editor and you’ve carried the academics editor post with poise and a never-say-die dedication. You have made me so proud this year.
Colleen: You’re one of the people on this campus I feel most comfortable around. On top of that, you jumped into an editor position better than anyone I’ve ever seen. Keep asking questions and demanding more of yourself.
Justin: Whenever I’d ask alumni about the EIC-ops editor relationship, I mainly did so out of pride. You’ve remained one of my best friends despite that notoriously contentious working relationship. Little did you know that during Gchat spats or editorial conflicts, I was inspired by your passion and ideals. Keep raising your voice and being the model of Hatchet dedication.
Robin: Becoming friends with you has been one of the highlights of my year. You’re loving and fierce and wise, and your “Cory Prodo Check-Ins” always reminded me during the most stressful moments that there were people outside my office door who were caring and working hard. You’re going to dominate the opinions page next year.
Zach: Only a loud-mouthed Mets fan would step into a brand new gig, full of inexperience, and act like he’s in charge just a month in. Thanks for always calling me out on my bullshit and remaining an unwavering friend.
Ally, Karolina, Olivia and Emily: You all have carried the culture section forward this year, and made me burst with pride. Thanks for taking your work seriously but never taking yourself too seriously. You brought the perfect mix of silliness and sarcasm that I always loved.
Nick and Sean: I was dying all year to be part of your duo. You both have the kind of energy and innocence that keep everyone at ease. On a newspaper with a string of stellar sports editors, you’ve produced some of the best sportswriting in Hatchet history.
Sam, Erica and Cam: When I read The Hatchet as a high schooler, the photo talent on the paper always stood out to me. Every issue, it continues to amaze me – even when I made you go on the Red Line or into Virginia to get a new front-page shot. Being a Hatchet photo editor is a thankless job, but you all have run one hell of a section.
Delaney: Thank you for embracing a job that asked you to take a ton of sacrifices and step into the unknown. I’ll always admire you for that. You never got enough credit.
Diana and Kendall: In your own ways, you were each two of the most beloved staffers this year. You produced great, creative work without ever being told what to do. That independence is a virtue.
Jeremy: Push your creativity to the limits. The Hatchet will need you to continue to push harder to think boldly.
Gabe S.: I can confidently say that we would have been a complete shitshow without you this year. Thanks for having the boldness and guile to step up and work as hard as anyone to serve this institution. I’m glad I made a good first impression with that mac and cheese dinner freshman year.
Pratheek and Maulik: You’ve produced some great stuff this year, but forgive me for issuing a big challenge: You two are the difference between The Hatchet remaining a great college newspaper and growing into the most exciting and advanced college media organization in the country. The web rules, so take initiative, think big and put ideas into action.
Nick Rice and Breese: You two are the creative muscles of this newspaper and two of the coolest dudes I know. Nick, your vision for The Hatchet’s aesthetics shaped this newspaper for the better. I threw my confidence into you and your work always amazed me. Eric, you brought the kind of outsider’s view that I wanted. Keep telling editors to break the rules and keep being a great friend.
James, Lauren, Will, Grant and Grayson: The livelihood of the newspaper sits on your shoulders, but you’ve fearlessly stepped into demanding jobs. Thank you.
Sophie, Nora and Isa: More than any other section, I get most personal and emotional about Hatchet design. (I once stormed out of the townhouse after getting into a fight about teasers…) You all make me confident that the newspaper will not only continue to look good, but it will be run by people who are never satisfied with their work. That’s the way it should be.
Jacob (Jason? Jerrod? Jackson?): You’re one of the best opinions writers this paper has seen in years and you’re probably the staffer that made me laugh the most this year. Thanks for having a morbid sense of humour but the wisdom to keep everyone balanced.
Rachel and Rachael: You both make this paper shine behind the scenes in ways that most will never know. Your quiet leadership and diligence never went unnoticed by me.
Volume 111 staff: Produce things you love and that other people will love. Make it your mission to make The Hatchet interesting and relevant every single day. Besides working harder than everyone else on campus, that’s pretty much the key to doing these jobs well.
French: One question would go through my head during some of my toughest days this year: “What would French do?” You taught me how to report, pushed me to get the full story and inspired me to work like a dog to make this newspaper better. And we both owe it to Mr. Didsbury.
Priya: I’ll never forget the number of times we’d huddle in a corner at a party my freshman year to talk about The Hatchet, even when everyone else in the room thought we were crazy. We shared an obsession, and you looked after me. If I was sad I didn’t get an editor position, or was struggling with a story, you always offered to go on a walk. Thank you for being the kind of teacher, role model and friend I needed the last few years.
Gabe: My travel buddy, best friend and partner in twisted humor. I don’t think you realize it, but you’re also my leveler. You aren’t afraid to tell me hard truths and you mix creativity with pragmatism better than anyone I know.
Francis: When I think about this “era” of The Hatchet, you embody it better than anyone. Your devotion to this place is unmatched.
Andrea: You took bold risks with a freshmen writer, and I lived to please you. Thank you for paving the academic reporting path for me.
Annu: You were the first one to make me truly feel welcome as a freshman on staff. And you’re still the one I think about when I want to encapsulate just how amazing the people here are. Keep making people feel welcome – that’s way too rare in this world.
Chase, Colin, Kai, Chris, Ryan, Yaari and my other Betas: I adore you all. You’ve given me unconditional love, even if The Hatchet often got in the way of me showing you just how much I loved you back. Yours in _kai_
Mom, Dad and Victoria – I know working for The Hatchet meant I didn’t call nearly enough the last four years. I don’t think I say “I love you” enough or tell you how much your support means to me. It’s because of you that I’ve been able to enjoy this ride.