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.
The hours before I got a call to become a news editor at The Hatchet were actually something of a low point for me.
I had just botched an interview for an internship I really wanted and felt stuck living in an isolated single in Mitchell Hall. Feeling alone and adrift, I feared my experience at GW wasn’t turning out the way I’d hoped.
Then I got a call and my fortunes changed.
At the time, I didn’t feel like I was remotely ready to be a Hatchet editor, but for some reason by the end of the meeting and I had blurted out “yes,” without having any idea of what I had committed myself to. I can’t imagine where I would be now if I had turned it down.
Joining The Hatchet was an exhilarating experience for me. Suddenly, I was chronicling the biggest stories on campus, getting hooked on the big developments and learning about fascinating topics like admissions, housing and Greek life. I was introduced to all sorts of conflicts and issues and passions that I never knew existed at GW. It was then that I began to see the importance of this newspaper, which has been here longer than pretty much anything else on campus.
As I frantically reported out stories on Friday afternoons at the old F Street townhouse, 110 years of history stared back at me. Front pages documenting presidential assassinations, labor strikes and the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11 adorned the walls of the newsroom. I began to hear stories of old editors who made national news exposing long-buried issues at the University and I took pride in being part of rag-tag group of 19-to-21 year olds working night and day to hold a multi-billion dollar institution accountable.
It was the first time in my life that I felt like a major contributor to something larger than myself, an organization with a century of history of people giving all of themselves to write about their community.
And joining The Hatchet introduced me to some of the most talented, fun and supportive people I’ve ever encountered. I met people who cared deeply about their work and about each other. I knew that no matter what was happening with the rest of the world, I could walk into The Hatchet townhouse and find a friend willing to help or share a laugh.
I suppose my story isn’t unique. Lots of other editors have written about joining staff, meeting people who changed their life and falling in love with journalism. But isn’t that the beauty of it? To have an organization that year after year not only helps people find their place at GW, but also tells meaningful stories and holds people accountable – the kind of place where you can be poring over financial documents one minute and cracking up about any number of ridiculous things the next.
Being senior news editor this year was the most thrilling, maddening, draining and rewarding experience of my life. At times, I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water, drowning in the demands of the job and the intense desire to live up to the standards past editors had set.
You sacrifice a lot when you take on this job – grades, sleep, free time and, occasionally it can seem, sanity. But for all The Hatchet takes away – it gives back tenfold.
You don’t care about the crushing workload when you see an editor nail a big story. You don’t care about missing out on events when you know that – no matter what time of day or night – you can find a friend in the townhouse. And you don’t care about sleepless nights when you walk out of the townhouse at 2 a.m. on Monday morning bleary-eyed and drained, knowing that you helped produce something you can be proud of, something of value to this campus.
These last few weeks, as my time as senior news editor has wound to a close, I’ve struggled with how to say goodbye to The Hatchet. How do you say goodbye to something that has transformed your life in such a profound way? How can I say goodbye to twerkflows and townhouses, late-night prodos, Faculty Senate meetings and raucous Friday afternoons in the newsroom?
I think the best way to say goodbye is to say thank you. Thank you for the memories I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had and, above all, to the people that I’ve met.
Jeanine: Thank you for giving me the chance to get more involved at the Hatchet. You allowed me to take on bigger stories and put me on the path toward being an editor. I owe a lot of the amazing opportunities and experiences that I’ve had here to you.
Colleen M: I’ve always admired your talent and determination. You are an expert at your craft and you always drew out the best in your staff. Thank you for bringing me onto your staff and being patient while I learned the ropes. I’ve really appreciate your advice and guidance this year.
Zach M: There are certain people that seem to become institutions at The Hatchet. You were that person for me. You seemed to know everyone and everyone knew you. You were always willing and able to help out on any task, big or small. It’s no surprise to me that even as alumnus, you are still helping us out and remain as dedicated to this place as ever. You may have chosen the wrong New York baseball team (let’s be honest this 11-2 isn’t going to last), but I can forgive that because of the friend and mentor you have become.
Ellie: You led your staff with tremendous professionalism and poise through a challenging year. You always thrived in difficult situations and have a persistent drive that makes you successful wherever you go.
Jacqueline: You, more than anyone else, taught me about this organization and what is required to be successful here. Your determination, passion and knowledge were inspiring to me. You knew what the news required and what it took to get there. Whenever things seemed too daunting, too stressful, too overwhelming this year, I thought of you and how you poured every ounce of yourself into this news team for two years. I hope I was able to make you proud. Thank you for meeting with me this year when I needed someone to talk to and messaging me when I needed a nudge. Thanks above all for teaching me what this paper is and should always be.
Victoria: When I returned from abroad junior year, I didn’t know you very well, but you quickly and graciously accepted me into your “squad” and we became really close. I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed our delirious late-nights in the townhouse or Drouse or taking away a Duques lecture hall from someone who would definitely have a better use for it. I’ve missed your visits to the apartment talking about your latest conspiracy theory or Twitter rants from Chuck Grassley. Thank you for always making me laugh and watch out for those NAGGING cousins spilling syrup all over the expensive tile floor.
Avery: I always admired the way you led your section. Being a news editor can feel like a constant state of chaos, but you always seemed to have things together and included your reporters in the newspaper in a way few others have. You’re also a remarkably thoughtful and considerate person, but you don’t put up with other people’s bullshit. Some of my best Hatchet memories are from your junior year apartment, making us pizza and Robin forcing me to dramatically read children’s stories. Thank you for having me over for amazing dinners this year and playing games when I needed to distress. And I would be remiss if I didn’t credit (blame) you for coming up with my ridiculous nickname. To be honest, I’ve grown to almost like it.
Robin: You were the first person that made me realize that not only was The Hatchet a place to work, but it could also be a place to make friends. You were friendly and welcoming to me from the day I joined the news team and made me feel like I could be myself in the townhouse. I’m glad I was able to avoid your dreaded enemies list even after I didn’t tell you that a reporter had brought a dog to a student life meeting (and then you made us have a joint meeting so you could see the dog). Instead, you have become one of my best friends and your support and belief in me has meant the world. Thank you accompanying me to scholarship dinners and museums, hanging out in my empty apartment the night we moved in and for always reminding me that’s it’s OK to have fun every once in a while.
Olivia: Amid the chaos the basement, you always seem to be in control. You’ve led the photo section with a steady hand and ensured we’ve had great (never just good enough) photos to use. I’ve enjoyed late prodos with you and I hope one day you’ll get a 4-Ride to arrive on time.
Sam: Even though after five (!) years, you still act like you don’t understand The Hatchet, the truth is you are an incredibly gifted photographer and as invested in this newspaper as just about anyone. Thank you for always making sure we had great news photos this year and for keeping the townhouse interesting with your never-ending shenanigans. Have a great time in Japan!
Matt C.: People always seem to say in these things that they don’t know anything about you, but I’m going to list a few things that I do: You’ve been a terrific sports editor and have shown an admirable amount of dedication not only to your section but to the paper as a whole this year. You’re also a genuinely good person who rarely has an unkind thing to say about anyone. While your love of Boston-area sports team has been an obstacle, it’s been really great getting to know you better this year. The paper is in good hands next year with you as second-in-command.
Barbara: You really are a ray of sunshine for this newspaper. You always seem to have a positive attitude and stay upbeat in any situation. You have a rare ability to make every person you talk to feel important and valued. It’s been a joy getting to know you through The Hatchet and class and I can’t wait to see what you accomplish leading the sports section next year.
Melissa S. and Emma: Thank you for being the last line defense, making sure the stories we put out into the world are the best they can be. But beyond that, it’s always a pleasure to see you whether it’s in me and Tyler’s apartment at 3 a.m. or (more occasionally than it should be) in class at 9:30 a.m. after prodo. Melissa: We always talk about our…circuitous journey to staff and our “groundbreaking” CI anniversary story that was brutally torn to shreds, but somehow we made it here and I’m so glad we did. I knew that you would always have the right answer to any copy question that arose. Thank you for indulging me when I (sometimes) lost my mind at the end of prodo.
Zach S, Olivia, Yonah and Anna: Thank you for staying late on Sundays to make sure we had a great-looking paper to put out every week and for helping me with pretty much anything with design (I don’t think I’ll ever make it to star design baby). Zach: You have an uncanny ability to remain calm in just about any situation. Thanks for your patience in dealing with all of until 2 a.m.
Melissa H.: You’ve always had such a strong and important voice on the opinion section and I’ve enjoyed reading your take on what’s happening on this crazy campus. Thanks for planning an awesome conference and good luck on your career in TV. I know I’ll be seeing you on Sunday shows sometime soon.
Liz P.: You brought the culture section to new heights with your relentless commitment and enthusiasm. Your optimism and energy are obvious to everyone around you and will serve you well as editor in chief. I’m so glad that we’ve made so many great memories this year, having late-night conversations in the basement and fulfilling our pact at Holiday. I’m glad to call you my friend. You’re taking on a big role next year, one that means so much to so many, and I have no doubt that you will be a fantastic EIC.
Lauren, Annie and Parth: I’m so glad that each of you are moving into new and bigger roles next year. Savor your time here and leave your mark on this place. Lauren: Being a news editor is one of the most challenging and rewarding opportunities that you will have. Academics is a great beat – Study the issues, build up your connections and you can make the section thrive.
Sarah Roach: Within your first week as a reporter, everyone on the news team already knew your name and that you were a star – Bringing us all candy didn’t hurt! You have pitched and reported some genuinely creative and important stories this year and you’ve impressed us all with your reporting chops. You should be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Student life is a section near and dear to me, it’s one of the most fun and difficult positions on staff, and I know you’re up for the challenge. I can’t wait to see what you write next year and don’t let Cayla push you around too much!
Colleen G: I always remember you staying in the townhouse with Cort late on Friday nights after Faculty Senate to finish up stories. It was a pleasure to work with you last spring. You always cared about your work and had strong story ideas for the section. You are always welcome back in the townhouse.
Justine: I think the world would be a better place if there were more people like you. You have an unwavering concern and compassion for others, especially those that you care about, that few other people possess. You are always authentic and upfront with people and you have a quiet persistence that will carry you far. We’ve missed you so much this semester, but I’m so glad that we’ve still had our Monday afternoons in Panera.
Dani: I will never forget that when Lillianna and I called you in to ask if you wanted to be Metro editor, you thought we wanted to talk about the turkey you were cooking for Hatchet Thanksgiving. Your antics have made me laugh in the newsroom more times than I can count. But beyond that it’s been a joy to watch you grow into your role these last few months. From the day you began here, you’ve showed ambition, commitment and a desire to make this paper the best it can be. Keep brightening up the newsroom with your antics, and I can’t wait to read what other wild things happen in this neighborhood next year. Sorry, but we will never, ever run a crime log headline with the phrase “DoNUTS!”
Liz K: Even though you never wanted to be a section editor, you stepped up to take on academics last semester when we needed and I don’t think I’ve thanked you enough for that. You have a such a cheery disposition, but a quiet drive and even ruthlessness that is can be admirable, terrifying and hilarious – and occasionally a combination of the three. Your excitement about blogs this semester has been a joy to see. Thank you for your secret Santa gift to me, there are definitely times this year that I’ve read over those notes to remind myself that there is a reason I’m in this position. Best of luck after graduation, I know you will be successful in whatever you do.
Elise: I vividly remember talking to you seriously for the first in the newsroom last spring while everyone was out at a Board of Trustees meeting. We talked for hours about our families and backgrounds and interests. I’ve never been able to have that kind of conversation with someone I just met, but it’s always been so easy to talk to you – a quality sure to make you an excellent managing director. You are a such an empathetic and thoughtful person and you always keep an eye on the things that matter. There’s no one I’d rather go to a 10-hour JEC meeting with.
Meredith: From the minute we met with you last spring, we knew we wanted you as part of the news team. As a freshman, you went charging into protests and crunched numbers on wonky finance stories – and your commitment to The Hatchet has been obvious all year. You have written some really important accountability stories and you should be very proud. Of course, the newsroom would not be the same without your constant presence. What would anyone Snapchat without your unique? outfits, late-night singalongs and various states of crawling on the floor. You have taken a lot of crap this year, but you always know how to dish it back out. Keep sniffing and digging next year, but please try to leave the townhouse at a decent hour!
Leah: You are one of the most sincere and gentle people that I’ve ever met. You have a remarkable gift to see people as they want to be seen and treat everyone with such respect and understanding – a quality that has shown through in the reporting you’ve done this year. You have reported on some very difficult topics and have always handled them with poise and empathy. I’ve been impressed with your devotion to you beats and the work that your turn in week after week. Stay in touch and keep at it next year!
Cayla: I cannot tell you how proud I am of you. Since the day you joined the news team, you have blown me away with your talent and passion. The stories you turned in and the connections you built across campus impressed me every single week. You have been thrown into so many chaotic and pressure-packed situations this year that would make anyone lose their mind, but you also knew how to handle it with a sense of calm, understanding and, of course, humor. I will miss the crazy quotes in the newsroom and your weird hand gestures that you somehow are able to get everyone to start making. I’ll miss your nine phone calls freaking out when news breaks or cracking up when something ridiculous is posted online. And I can honestly say there is no one I’d rather have taking over for me next year than you. This job is difficult and thankless at times, but remember to take time to appreciate the role you have and the difference that you make. I have no doubt that you’re ready and always know that I’ll be following and cheering you on. CHS-Hatchet for life!
Tyler: I’ve had the most fun being your roommate this year. We’ve shared more memories that I could count over our time at The Hatchet. You have done just about everything for this newspaper and you are always willing to do anything for the people you care about. Thank you for putting up with me mispronouncing Mississippi and making up fake middle names for you. Thank you for letting me be your roommate and being an amazing friend.
Lillianna: We’ve come along way from the days when you were skeptical that I knew how to get to Nats Park. We have been through so much together this year, but I really don’t think there’s anyone else I would rather have had in charge. Your unwavering devotion to The Hatchet and to your job is something very few people have. You have literally run out the shower at 5 a.m. and dove into dumpsters for this newspaper. Your passion has kept me going and lifted staff through a change in townhouses and countless minor crises. And throughout it all, your friendship has meant so much. From late-night FaceTime calls over the summer, trips to Chicago and hours spent huddled in your office (often fighting over headlines), so many of my best memories here are because of you. Thank you for trusting me with the news team this year and thank you that whenever I had to stay until the wee hours of a Wednesday or Sunday, at least I was able to spend it with one of my best friends.
Mom, Dad and Brian: Even though I’m sure you probably didn’t understand why I would spend every waking minute of my life working at the college paper, I’m glad you didn’t get mad when I couldn’t talk as often as I wanted to or was exhausted when I did get on the phone. Thank you for supporting me in journalism career and everything else I do in life. You are the best supporters I could ask for. I love you guys.