Each year, graduating editors are given 30 final column inches to reflect on their time at The Hatchet published in the final issues of the year. Journalists historically used “-30-” to signify the end of a story.
Of the graduating Hatchet staff, I think I’ve been around the organization the shortest. For only the past year, I’ve been the contributing photo editor working on the culture section, and the year before, I chipped in as a photographer. I’ve felt a little out of place during my time here, being one of just two graduate students working here, and especially considering my relatively short Hatchet career. But at the end of this volume, I’ve really come to value my time spent here and I’m sad that it’s coming to a close.
I took the position knowing I wanted to take pictures and wanting to get a better idea of what photo editing was all about. At American University, I was a photographer, writer and designer at a student magazine for a couple of years, but it wasn’t nearly as rewarding or enjoyable as my time at The Hatchet has been. It also didn’t show me what a student publication could be, and The Hatchet is something really special.
I also took the position last spring knowing the next school year would be split between my thesis project and my time at The Hatchet. Most of my credits were out of the way, leaving me with few classes outside of the required thesis work.
In a relieving way, The Hatchet was an outlet from the intensity of the thesis process. Having contact with people outside my eight-person program, outside my wacky and insulated headspace and outside of the cavernous but weirdly empty Flagg Building was something I came to crave as this year went on. Hatchet work was methodical, and simple, in the sense that the goal was always the same. Not to say the work wasn’t challenging, it was, and that I didn’t need to push myself, I did, but that the work was rewarding and the editing process was meditative. The deadlines added some stress, but the routine, purpose and friendship became a solace to me. It goes without saying, but journalism is a public service, and I was more than happy to do it for the community.
My thesis project, on the other hand, was an exercise in chasing incomplete ideas to their conclusion followed by perpetual self-reflection about my path to that point. I started the year in one place with an outlined set of goals and expectations. Those quickly shifted though, and I became accustomed to the fact that the project never really had a constant goal other than to keep exploring and building on the work I’d already done. Editing was more open-ended, there was always more work to do, and I’m still not sure if what I produce will be called a finished product. It’s a nebulous process, and every week has been different and stressful in its own ways. But it’s an open-ended project too, my work won’t be done on this subject for years to come, if ever.
That dichotomy, The Hatchet balancing out my thesis work, helped me stay focused all year. The Hatchet was an enjoyable release, and the relationships I’ve built kept me level.
The basement was an easy place to make friends and was actually sort of like the Corcoran. They’re both sometimes freezing cold and sometimes roasting hot. Both have a few too many bugs crawling around for anyone’s liking. And both, frankly, were probably a detriment to my health. I lived in a basement studio for two years during undergrad, and I never thought I’d be spending that much time in a basement again. But the townhouse basement has been my second home for the past year. The hours spent there on Wednesdays and Sundays quickly surpassed the hours I spent in class, and maybe even the hours I spent at home too. We all spent a lot of time there, and we all got to know each other very well.
I’m happy to be out of the basement but sad to see my time at The Hatchet end.
Olivia: You really made this year happen for me. Thanks for taking me on as an editor and teaching me the mysterious ways of The Hatchet. Thanks for always keeping it real, and thank you for understanding my bizarre obsession with the weirdest Instagram accounts out there. I’ll miss the late nights in the basement.
Donna: We were on this journey together, fellow contrib, it’s been weird and frustrating at times. Thanks for taking everything in stride, and thanks for having a great sense of humor about it all. I feel like most of my basement memories involve you laughing in the corner.
Liz: You’ve been a great EIC. I can’t even comprehend your workload, but I know for a fact I would’ve snapped if I were in your shoes. Thanks for being receptive and responsive, and steering me well through the year. I appreciate you and your level-headed leadership immensely.
To the basement crew, generally: This goes out to video, photo, design, podcast, sports, culture and whoever else lives down there with us: Keep the discourse going next year, and keep me updated. Thank you for the times. Stay warm next winter. Will send gloves and hot cocoa.
To The Hatchet crew, generally: I’ve been consistently blown away by the commitment I see every day to this organization. You all take immense pride in putting out a strong news product and do it with a passion. I’ve learned so much about how to work and act as a journalist from your lead, mostly things I couldn’t learn from my teachers or in my classes. It’s been a great year and I’ll definitely be sad when the volume turns over. I appreciate everyone on staff and the relationships we’ve built.