Josh Perlman: All is fair in love and journalism

Media Credit: Elise Apelian | Senior Staff Photographer

Media Credit: Elise Apelian | Senior Staff Photographer

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.

As an editor, you develop an eye for clichés.

You delete overused words and phrases, cheesy metaphors and kitschy one-liners. You find yourself making lists of what not to do in your head, all the while recognizing that you’ve been known to commit half the crimes on that list.

But as an editor, you also come to realize why writers use clichés in the first place. Clichés are universally understood. They are an easy solution when other words fail, and they will inevitably fail when the emotions or experiences you’re attempting to describe are just too complex to illustrate.

Well, my four years with The Hatchet have been nothing but one giant cliché.

I came to GW a lost, lonely freshman with big dreams and skinny arms. I wanted to make my mark at the University, and I saw joining the college newspaper as the perfect opportunity to make my time at this school worthwhile. Then, I unexpectedly met a group of people who were all somehow just as fantastically weird as I felt, as is only possible of a group of college kids who choose to spend their days and nights in a stuffy townhouse reporting the news.

It was pretty much your classic “boy meets girl” story, except in this case the girl was over 100 years old and published twice a week – these were the good old days.

When I first started writing for The Hatchet, I took all the necessary precautions to make myself feel like a reporter. By that, I mean I bought a voice recorder for $20 at RadioShack and picked out a nice, leather-bound notepad from the bookstore. I wrote a few stories for the Life section – which were all heavily edited – before applying to fill in for the “Slice of Life” columnist who was studying abroad that semester. I remember my editor, Andrea, telling me that I was the new columnist and thinking to myself: ‘This is it. This is my chance to grace everyone with the natural beauty and whimsical humor of my literary voice.’

What resulted was a particularly hard-hitting column about the weather.

I continued to write as much as I could and went on to become the contributing features editor – a role that required a lot of adjusting but helped me grow in more ways than I can explain. While working as contributing editor, I began focusing more on my daily responsibilities and less on my own writing. I decided to try out something new and sheepishly asked the editor-in-chief, Lauren French, if I could start writing my own column for the blog. I was shocked by how casually she said yes.

The conversation went a bit like this:

Me: Um, hi. French? Sorry to bug you. I was just wondering, it’s like totally fine if you say no, and I would completely understand, but I was kind of thinking that it might be fun, or like, something fresh and exciting if I could write a blog once a week where I kind of just like, ramble about myself.

French: Sure.

I have French to thank for showing me that sometimes all you have to do is ask for something you want.

And even though I eventually put my career at The Hatchet on hold to study abroad in London, I was thrilled to come back for my final year as director of external affairs.

Working for The Hatchet has been a humbling experience in that I am continuously impressed by the work of everyone else on staff. I can look back at my four years and see how much my own work has improved just from being surrounded by talented young journalists.

So, forgive me if this sounds cliché, but I need to thank a few people because without them, my time at The Hatchet would not have been possible.

Andrea: You were my first editor and the first person to make me feel like I was truly a part of something greater than myself. Thank you for welcoming me into The Hatchet family.

Caroline: I have you to thank for instilling me with the confidence I needed to succeed. When I was following you up the stairs to my interview freshman year, you turned around and told me not to be scared. I don’t think I ever told you how much that meant. You are an amazing mentor, an even better prom date and an even better friend.

French: Thank you for showing me that it’s totally possible to be feared and loved at the same time. You are incredibly talented, and you taught me to always put 110 percent into everything I do. Also, that kiss was magical.

Allison: The internal to my external. You are the best friend The Hatchet has given me. We made a great team this year and I couldn’t have done it without you. But you owe me at least 15 drinks for always eating my food.

Cory: We first met when you sat next to me during our freshman SMPA orientation. It’s surreal to think about how far we’ve both come since then. I know you’ll be a famous journalist one day, and I’ll just be proud to say I once carved pumpkins with you and your mom.

Ferris: I still feel like we’re those two awkward freshmen making small talk at our first Hatchet holiday party. Good luck in Arizona this summer, and I can’t wait to see what you accomplish in the years to come.

Melissa and Lisa: Without your dedication to the paper, the Culture section would not be what it is today. I learned so much from working with each of you.

Karolina: I still think of you as my “little,” even though you accomplished more as Culture editor than I ever could have imagined. It made me so proud to watch you rise through the ranks.

Francis: I remember walking to Froggy with you after a long day at the townhouse and knowing it was the beginning of a great friendship. Sorry, I don’t think I responded to your last Snapchat.

Pauline: It always makes my day when I walk into the townhouse and find you there. Stop being so busy and be my friend.

Brianna: I couldn’t possibly think of a better leader for Volume 111. Don’t let the stress of the job make you forget your natural talent and passion for journalism. Know that the graduating seniors will always be there to support you.

Justin and Jenna: You’ve both individually done so much for this paper, and I can’t wait to see you thrive in your development roles. Your passion and enthusiasm continue to remind us all why we signed up for this job in the first place.

To my “other” friends: Thank you for keeping your comments to yourselves – for the most part – whenever I ditched you or bailed on plans for The Hatchet. I think it goes without saying that you all played a huge part in keeping me sane.

Jason: Hi.

To my family: I can’t thank you enough for your love and support. I probably wouldn’t have even made it to graduation if it weren’t for you all.

As much as I’ve spent the past four years trying to keep corny puns and phrases out of my writing, my memories of The Hatchet will always be the most beautiful cliché of all.

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