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.
I literally can’t believe I’m still here.
I lost count of the number of times I said I would quit, the number of times I got fed up and wanted nothing to do with The Hatchet, the number of times I thought this newspaper was stupid and a waste of time.
The urge to leave was powerful, yet I never left. Why? I’m still trying to figure that out.
When I was hired in the winter of my sophomore year, I thought it would be a steady and straightforward rise through the ranks: I would shadow the other photo editors, learn from them and slowly transition to a more senior position. Little did I know that within one semester I would become responsible for the entire photo department. I became part of a dedicated team of hardworking people who were relying on me. I had a job to do and if I failed to do it, everyone else’s work could be negatively impacted. I couldn’t just leave and dump my responsibilities on someone else. I was stuck.
I saw how hard everyone else worked. I saw the sacrifices they made and the stress they endured. News editors worked hard to produce well-reported, polished writing. They skipped class, poured over documents and quadruple-checked everything. What if I didn’t get a photo for a story they spent weeks working on? Would they not run the story? Would they be disappointed?
I began to fear letting them down.
I thought about how hard everyone worked in the past. Photo editors had produced massive print issues with dozens of photos. They went on to win awards and work for major media organizations across the country. This newspaper has a rich history and strong traditions, which became ever present in my mind, weighing on my conscience. Was I ignoring important and cherished customs? Would alumni be satisfied with the direction I was leading the photo department? Would they be disappointed?
I went from not wanting to let other people down to not wanting to let The Hatchet down.
Without realizing it, I became part of something bigger than just the photo department. I became part of a news organization that worked to achieve goals I had never even considered before: To inform the public, challenge administrators, start discussions. Not only was I responsible for doing my job as a photo editor, but I also became responsible for carrying on the traditions of The Hatchet.
A fear of disappointing people and keeping traditions intact are powerful motivators. Don’t underestimate them.
That’s why I’m still here.
Colleen: We started with an email, now we’re here. Being with you this past year has shown me just how smart, dedicated and fearless you are. You bought me a yacht and I took you to a Bat. I’m glad we’re on the same team and look forward to seeing all the great things you’ll accomplish next year.
Desiree, Katie & Dan: I’m probably (read: definitely) not the easiest person to work with. As you’ve all learned by now, being a photo editor is not an easy job. Perfection is required, but rarely achieved. Take the job seriously (yes, it’s a job), but don’t take yourself seriously. And look out for each other. No one knows what a photo editor goes through like another photo editor.
Cam: Bro, dude, man, chief, bud. Thanks for sticking around. That may sound simple and shallow, but you have no idea how grateful I am to have had you help out. Build that portfolio, but don’t disappear.
Photographers: Put simply: you made my life easier. There is no better feeling that having one of you say that you can cover an assignment. I hope The Hatchet has become a second home for you and not just a student org, or worse, a job. All of you will be leaders next year and the new photographers will look to you for guidance. And fear not, I’m not changing my phone number or email address, so you know how to reach me if you ever want to hang.
Brianna: Working with you this past year has been lots of fun. You’ve been the least stressful EIC to work for, adding years back to my life. No matter what was thrown at you this volume, you’ve rolled with the punches and fought back. I admire that (although I don’t envy your job).
Chloe: Except for wearing shades of beige, we are quite similar. We’re both individuals who may (read: definitely) have an abrasive, politically incorrect, sarcastic-to-the-point-of-jackassery personality. I enjoy your sense of humor. You tell it like it is, and that usually ruffles feathers.
Mel: Your stories are some of the most visually unexciting ones the Hatchet publishes. But at the same time, they are frequently the most important and newsworthy. You demystify higher education, which isn’t an easy feat. Can you budget for me by 8 p.m.? Thanks.
Zach: This may come as a shock to you (hopefully it doesn’t) but I’ve appreciated all that you’ve done for the photo department. Whether it’s covering assignments, uploading photos or writing captions, you’re the grout and/or caulk to the photo team. That is, you fill in all the gaps.
Justine & Rubrub/Rub-a-dub-a-ding-dong/Bongo: It has been a blast getting to know each of you this past year. While I’m sure I overstayed my welcome at times, both of you have been hilarious, energetic and friendly. I’ll miss our late night chats and gossip, xoxo Samali Pirate.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond: I’ve greatly enjoyed us screaming at each other in the townhouse as well as sending threatening emails back and forth. You’re a hard-working journalist who doesn’t have time for bullshit and I respect that. Quick question, does writing this get me in Playbook?
Jacqueline & Eva: You often fall for my sarcasm, which only works to reinforce my belief that I’m the funniest person in the room. You may hate me for all the times I’ve asked you to budget, but to that I say: don’t hate the player, hate the game.
Ryan & Ellie: From your stories that I’ve read so far, I know you’re both destined to do big things. It’s not easy being a news editor, and I know I certainly could never be one. You’ll be leaders next year and others will look to you for inspiration.
Design: Sophie, we were designing separately once and then showed each other the results, only to have the same exact design – I won’t forget that. You give my photos a home on the page. Anna, your graphics have saved me when I’m caught up shit creek without a photo (Get it? It’s an outdoors reference). Your work is always colorful, yet informative. Nora, your patience waiting for photos to be saved down doesn’t go unnoticed. I’ve enjoyed working with you on culture pages and am excited to see what you have in store for the future.
Nora P.: You and Cam worked great together this year, making my life a thousand times easier. While I may have butted my head into your affairs, it often resulted in me making a fool of myself and realizing that you had everything under control from the beginning.
Jeanine: You remind me of myself, taking the lead of an entire section with little training. However, we diverge in that you’ve done an excellent job, while I did just OK. Keep working with Desiree to produce visually appealing content that is new and fresh.
Blair: Remember that time you didn’t wear a scarf? I do.
Brandon & RSG: Sorry for the “AP-style” captions that I write. I try to make your jobs a little easier, but I realize I’m probably just making it worse. Shout out to RSG and our time spent in elevators.
Francis & Jordan: Whenever I’m unsure of what to do, I always think WWF&JD? Well, it’s more like WF&JLMGAWT? (Would Francis and Jordan Let Me Get Away With This?) Francis, your passion for photojournalism inspired me. I looked to your work when trying to improve my own and sought out your critiques the most. Jordan, your positivity and optimism gave me hope that everything would be OK. I wanted to emulate your style of leadership and keep the photo department fun.
Cory & Sarah: My fear of disappointing you two kept me going through the second half of Vol. 110. You both worked so hard and were so dedicated to the newspaper that the last thing I wanted was for the photos to mess anything up. I still think about the intersection that I never went to or homeless people at 6 a.m. who I didn’t bother to photograph. And I hope there weren’t too many files on the front. I never had any formal journalism education, rather I learned what I know today from you two. (Cory, did you have any more questions about my penis?)