Jacqueline Thomsen: That crazy Hatchet girl

Media Credit: Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

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 came to GW with a plan – join the student newspaper, make it my “thing” and graduate helping to run it.

Unlike most plans I create, I managed to do just that. I vividly remember walking into The Hatchet’s townhouse on G Street freshman year, an unglamorous building with mismatching chairs, a cramped passageway for news, a video desk covered in scattered SD cards and lenses and knowing that I wanted to spend all of my spare time there. I don’t think I realized just how big of an impact The Hatchet would have on me and the person I am today.

The Hatchet beats you up, wrings you out, demands your best and requires nothing less than your full dedication. People won’t understand when you say you can’t hang out on a Sunday or why your phone is always going off or why you’re running from the bar with a notebook to find a quiet corner where you can take notes. You’ll find that you have odd party tricks, like being able to rattle off administrators’ full titles off the top of your head or recite statistics that no one else could give a shit about. Professors will add sections to their syllabi banning Hatchet work during class because of you. You’ll earn a reputation as the girl at the party with a laptop in the corner, typing away as debauchery reigns around you.

More importantly, you’ll learn how to thrive on the news: get hooked on the updates and being the first to tell a story, coming up with a game plan and having a vision for your coverage so vivid that you’d follow it down to the depths of the ocean – but you’ll throw it out the window in a heartbeat when you have to adapt. You’ll be glued to your seat for so long that you’ll look up and realize that it’s been five hours since you first sat down even though it only felt like five minutes. Time becomes less of a measure but a race, and you have to beat it because you want to be the best and the best are first, accurate and interesting, not first, sloppy and boring.

Running the news team for two years in a row was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I’m glad I did it. There were days that I didn’t want to get out of bed because of The Hatchet, but they were far outnumbered by the days where I wouldn’t have gotten out at all if it weren’t for The Hatchet. Even as friendships changed, relationships started and ended and my personal goals evolved, the paper was a constant. There was always a story to edit, a blog to publish, an email to send and a phone call to make. The list never ended and while sometimes I prayed for it to, it kept me going in a way that nothing else ever could.

It wasn’t all pretty. But whenever I felt like it was all getting to be too much, I shut my laptop, gave myself five minutes and then wrote another to do list in the little red notebook I’ve carried with me for the past couple years. I’ve always been the kind of person that has to be busy all the time and I stayed afloat through this newspaper. I was like a shark – if I stopped working, I would die.

But all of it was worth it – the sleepless nights, the endless spreadsheets, the constant emails – when a truly amazing story came out or when you felt that a project you worked on made a difference. Nothing The Hatchet produces is the work of a single individual – if it were, it’d be bad.

I left Swampscott to go to college, but mostly I went to The Hatchet. I surrounded myself with some of the most incredible people on this campus who produced the most remarkable work. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

Cory and Sarah: When I started at The Hatchet, you two felt like an institution. Even though we didn’t work together that closely, I still catch myself thinking, “What would Cory and Ferris do?” Sarah, I’ll never forget how kind you were to me that day the spring of my freshman year when I called you from the honors program townhouse. Thank you for appearing in my inbox sporadically – I needed the kick.

Bri: You always pushed me to do my best but also called me out when I needed it, and I promise that my Facebook messages with SA senators quickly toned down. You were a calming influence in what was often a crazy year and so willing to make The Hatchet the best it could be. I hope I built on that.

Chloe: One of my biggest Fears when I took over for you was that I wouldn’t be able to come up with story ideas or write as well as you could – and I still share pieces of advice you gave me with members of the news team today. You were a fantastic role model and I still try to embody your spirit in the newsroom. If the Bayou ever becomes a thing again and I run into you there, I’ll be sure to say hi this time.

Mel: New deans, FacSen, budget cuts – you covered it all as an editor here and you sucked me into it. Thank you for really bringing me into the paper my freshman year and showing me that academics could be interesting and engaging. Garris gave The Hatchet a shout out at his last Faculty Senate as chair and I know that a lot of it was directed toward you. Let’s get a drink soon and talk about anything but academics.

Colleen: Whenever I came across a new or odd situation this volume, I kept going back to our conversations last year and everything we went through. I learned so much from working with you and I’ll really glad I had that chance. Thank you for trusting me with one of the most difficult jobs on staff and walking me through everything from how to read a 990 to describing endowments in a way that doesn’t make people want to gouge their eyes out. I really couldn’t have done anything I was able to do this year without the foundation you helped me build.

Eva: Sophomore year was incredibly long and difficult and I don’t think either of us could have made it through without the other. From dinners with parents, Colorado and buffalo wings, I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime or fellow assistant news editor that year. I’m so glad you were able to stay with The Hatchet and found a place for yourself where you could be happy.

Zach: I sincerely feel bad for future generations of The Hatchet because they’ll have never had the chance to work with you. You were the first person to make me feel at home in the townhouse – probably because we’re both fluent in sarcasm – whether it was pushing me to shoot better footage, be faster when syncing audio tracks or telling me to ask Gabe Salkin if he knew where I could purchase some cat litter. I’m sorry I didn’t stick with team video, but I think we both know it was the right choice and it gave you plenty of mocking material for the future. Your praise and advice meant so much to me over the years and I’m so happy that you’re doing so well – you deserve it.

Jeanine: One Friday morning I called you half a dozen times and told you to get your ass to campus because you were filling in at a Board of Trustees meeting. I’m sorry I put you through that, but I’m not sorry about yelling in the townhouse together, writing questions for the SA debate in 51st (rip) or for stealing you from the culture section. You also did something I was never brave enough to – leave The Hatchet when you weren’t happy there anymore, and I’ll always admire you for that. Thank you for texting me whenever you see the insane stories we run and telling me to run far, far away when I tell you that I’ve seen a certain person in public. Let’s get a last round of LITs soon.

Brandon: You were such a presence on staff last year and you’re dearly missed – the townhouse was a little emptier and far quieter this past volume, and for the worse. Thank you for dressing up like Mad Men characters with me. You made an excellent Don and your commitment to the bit, rocks glasses included, carried us through that party.

Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

Vol. 112: I can’t fit all of you in here, but if I could, I would. Each of you welcomed me in my new role on staff last year with open arms and I can’t ever thank you enough for that. I always felt like a part of The Hatchet, but I felt like I really found my footing with you. Special shout outs to Sarah, Sam and Rachel – each of you are remarkable women who I admire every day. I hope to run into you at more punk shows soon.

Ellie: It’s finally over dude. I’ve burst into your office or yelled over the phone more times than I can count this volume but I always knew that you’d take it in stride or yell with me over whatever minor crisis we were handling at the moment. I’ve seen you really grow into your role at The Hatchet, from reporter to editor to EIC, and I’m always impressed. Thanks for trusting me with the news team this year.

Lillianna: I don’t even know how to start saying how proud I am of you. I remember when you were my reporter during your freshman year and yelling at you to apply to become an editor when I ran into you in the Marvin Center. Next year will be a lot of work, but I know you’re more than capable. Stay smart, stay interesting and stay on top of everyone. Make sure Andrew goes to bed and that you do too.

Andrew: I only stayed with the news team for a second year because I wasn’t sure if there was someone else ready or willing to handle the job. With you, I have absolutely no doubt. I’ve always regretted that we never hired you earlier because of the immense talent you have. Don’t forget to have fun and remember that just because you’re someone’s boss doesn’t mean you can’t also be their friend. I know that you’re going to do amazing work with news next volume, and I couldn’t be prouder of you – I’ll be watching!

Avery: I really don’t know how you hold it together all of the time. You are one of the most genuinely kind people I’ve ever met. Your ability to connect with members of staff from across the newspaper is admirable and the sheer number of your reporters that have been hired speaks volumes to your leadership style. Enjoy your summer, you deserve it – but I know the work you’ll do when you get back will be just as excellent, and punny.

Cort Carlson, Reporting Live: Thank you for joining the news team this past semester – your energy is infectious and has made each of us not just better reporters, but better people. I know I can count on you to pop into the townhouse next year and raise everyone’s spirits. Your stories you told me about Stockton will keep me entertained for months – thanks especially for your story about the speed freak killers.

Justine: Despite what others say about your sincere kindness and seemingly never-ending ability to care for or about others, I know the truth: you are ruthless. I am so happy we hired you as metro editor this past semester, and while I know you must miss the calmer life on the third floor in some ways, I honestly think you were made to take on this job. I know you’re going to be an amazing leader within the news team next year and an excellent role model for all of the new news editors. Don’t forget to get out of The Hatchet bubble and have fun – someone else can help with breaking news every once in awhile, I promise.

Elise: I told you that SA elections would eventually be over and that it’d be worth it! You rose above and beyond what I could have ever expected this year. Your dedication to your beats has been exemplary and all any editor could ever ask for. You care so much and it’s so clear in your work and in how much people on campus trust you. Have fun abroad, but promise me you’ll come back – I won’t be around to make you sprint back to your room to write a blog ever again, but I can’t make any guarantees about my successors.

Robin: When you first came on staff, Eva and I used to call you “little bird.” While your height might give another impression, you’re nothing but little. Even when things seemed like they were rough, I always knew your heart was in your work and that The Hatchet was your top priority. I’ve missed you in budgeting this semester and watching you launch into the crazy things neighbors were mad about or pitching a story about rodents. Any publication that gets half of the energy and dedication you put into The Hatchet will be lucky to have you.

Sera: You were so lovely to work with this fall. I know that being a news editor isn’t easy, but even when it was hard I always felt like you were taking it in stride. I’ve missed your presence in the newsroom, but I’m so happy that you were around as a fact checker this semester, and I know you’ll go onto do great things. You’re going to have such a great time in Paris and I can’t wait to be insanely jealous over your Instagrams.

Ryan: I was recently going through my Twitter DMs and found one I sent you a couple years ago, welcoming you to staff – sorry I slid into your DMs, but I remember that Eva and I were so thrilled that you were on board that we couldn’t help it. Your dedication to keeping this place afloat is second to none and The Hatchet is so lucky to have you on board, as a news editor, a development director or interim business manager. Sorry we killed calendar but you were the only one who was good at writing it anyway.

Lila: Thank you for nominating me for Ms. GW. It was the single greatest thing I’ve ever done and it’s all because of you.

Meredith, Leah, Colleen and Cayla: We didn’t get to spend a lot of time together, but I hope I made a good first impression – the four of you sure as hell did. You are each going to create some truly excellent work next year and I’m looking forward to reading it. Watch out for each other and have each others’ backs. Joining The Hatchet’s news team may feel difficult at times, but I promise that it will be completely worth it. Call or email me anytime, I’ll always answer.

Tyler: You’ve had half of the jobs on this staff and probably get how this paper works better than most people. Even so, it’s your personality that’s always stood out, whether it’s having thoughtful debates with you on any number of topics to your dry sense of humor to making sure our paper looks as good as possible. I’m happy that you’ll be taking on my title next year and I hope you carry on my reputation of constantly questioning what’s going on around you. Push staff to do their best next volume, but also make sure they’re living and breathing, etc.

Victoria: If I see something funny on Twitter, I know I can guarantee on you to not just get it, but to have either already seen it or have something else to add to it. You did such a great job with the culture section last year and I’m so glad you came back for this year, and that we survived both of our classes together last semester. I know you’re going to kill it as a social media editor somewhere else. Never stop making puns in posts or spelling Foggy Boton right.

Melissa and Irene: You two helped to create a voice for The Hatchet that news wasn’t able to, and I’ve always admired both of you for it. You’re both extremely talented writers and I know you will each excel in your roles next volume. Be funny, be controversial, hold your own. Melissa, you’ll be a wonderful managing director. You’re so kind and strong, and I can’t wait to see what you do.

Dan: I’m going to miss you silently sticking your head around the corner of the newsroom, looking around and walking out. Your superb photos, advice and complaints have only improved our coverage and made us a better paper. The future letters to the editor that you write to your local newspaper will be treats and I hope to read them.

Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

Samurai: I remember that when I told former editors that you were coming back, they all told me how lucky we were to have you. They weren’t wrong: you are incredibly talented and your photographers look up to you, a quality I know will last long into next year. I had the best time taking these photos with you.

Olivia: You are currently the coolest person on staff. Hold onto that title next year even as you take on one of the most difficult, but most important jobs at The Hatchet. You’re going to be an terrific photo editor and I know that the work you produce will be nothing short of spectacular.

Mark and Matt: One of the first prodos this year, the three of us hunched around Title IX documents, trying to figure out what the hell had just happened. The two of you were an amazing team this past volume and even though it wasn’t the year anyone expected, you covered the hell out of it. Mark – the third floor is going to be far quieter with you there. I know I’m going to see you courtside any day now. Matt – all I really know about you is that you’re from Massachusetts and you once got kicked out of a Red Sox game, but I think both make up the perfect components needed to be a great Hatchet sports editor.

Liz and Max: I’ve always loved reading the culture section, but I know that it is definitely in good hands next year. Don’t be afraid to push boundaries and get creative about what you do and how you do it – you have a chance to reshape the section next volume and I know you’ll make it stronger than ever.

Halley and Kellie: Video holds a special place in my heart, and you both did such a wonderful job running the section this past year. Halley, I remember meeting you freshman year and thinking how genuinely kind you were. I’m so glad you could bring that to staff. Kellie, we didn’t really get much time to hang out, but I have a feeling that we would really get along. Let’s make up for it at prom.

Blair: You were the first person I really met who was going to GW and I had a feeling our paths would cross after you said you wanted to do journalism. You are the definition of a young professional but you also didn’t take yourself too seriously, which I greatly appreciated. Congrats on that ~gainful employment~ and thanks for texting me when I was crying in Roberts’ class.

Jake: I’m sorry I kicked you out of that Bayou party – but it was a helluva way to start our friendship. From telling me all of your gossip to tolerating the punk music I blast in the newsroom, I’ve loved working with you. You’re a talented videographer and you’ve grown up so much since freshman year that I know you’re like a fine wine: you’ll only get better with age. Kill it in Prague.

Melissa and Emma: Both of you are the final lines of defense – making sure that what we wrote actually makes sense. It’s been wonderful spending late nights with you this semester and I know it will only continue into next volume.

Zach, Anna and Emily: All three of you helped to make a beautiful newspaper this volume. We had fewer pages, sure, but each of them always looked fantastic. The front pages this semester alone have blown me away and your creative ideas have changed this paper for the better.

Yonah: Our battles over graphics this year have been legendary; future graphics and news editors will tell tales of our email threads and late night discussions on the third floor. I couldn’t have asked for someone better to debate the merits of using certain kinds of data and the ethics of different bar charts. You’ve made some of the best graphics we’ve had this semester, and I hope we can keep talking in non-Hatchet contexts.

Nathan: You gave us the best tool we could have ever asked for: a new website. The Hatchet literally couldn’t move forward without you and all of the work you’ve done for us. I’m so happy you’ll be sticking around and I can’t wait to see what else you’ve got up your sleeves.

Cara, Meghan, Annie, Thom and Emma: I know that each of you thought at one point, “Jacqueline is going to die at The Hatchet,” but guess what suckers, I’m still around! Thanks for putting up with my yelling about things you didn’t care about, and thanks for not caring about those things. Sorry for never being around and then always working when I was around. Hopefully this changes, but probably not. In the meantime, let’s all get brunch on a S U N D A Y and be adults together.

Mom, Dad and Chris: I can’t believe you let me put you through all of this. These past four years have been a wild journey, and even though I know you didn’t always get it, you pretended to – and that meant the world to me. Thank you for always having my back and accepting that The Hatchet was my life, but still picking up whenever I called. I promise to come home more often now. I hope I made you proud.


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