Meredith Roaten: A helping hand

Media Credit: Courtesy of Hannah Roaten

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.

One month at a summer program. Four or five yearbook layouts. Three photos carefully shot in automatic mode. A deep-rooted love of public radio. That’s what I had when I decided that I should write the news for the rest of my life.

I didn’t know how to write a lede or what a graf was but I was determined to sign up for everything I could. I quickly found out that after you write for The Hatchet, you can’t write for the TV station or radio.

I may have stumbled over the first hurdle but I was ready for anything. At least until I sat down to write my first blog. I sat at an hour long lecture on urban agriculture, a topic which I had no background in, and took what I at the time thought were extremely tedious notes.

When I got back to the townhouse, I found a buzzing newsroom full of reporters turning around last minute stories for Monday’s print edition before the end of the business day. My editor gave me two hours to write up about 500 words about the lecture, easy.

I sat on the newsroom couch, staring almost unseeingly at my computer screen and flicking back and forth between the Google Doc that I had just learned how to use and a recording of the lecture. Nothing more than an outline went on to that document for a whole hour.

When I finally broke out of my daze of paralyzing fear, there was another reporter sitting by my side. She smiled at me and asked to see what I had so far. I had nothing to show her but my pulse grew steadier as she asked me questions about what had happened and slowly she helped me write words until I had a whole story.

The Hatchet took me in when I had no experience, a small amount of talent and a lot of ambition. Its editors, photographers and reporters invested their time and effort into a bumbling freshmen who had nothing to give but dedication.

Within a month of my first blog, I was standing in a roomful of members of the College Republicans celebrating a Trump victory. The month after that I interviewed the restaurant owner at the center of the PizzaGate conspiracy theory. And a few weeks after that I ran away from the sounds of protestors screaming from tear gas at the inauguration day protests.

In a matter of a few stories and several thousand words, my idea of what reporting was actually like was completely transformed. But my belief that it was the business that I should be in was stronger than ever.

Since my first year at The Hatchet, I have done a lot more than stumble blindly into different events and write down a few words. I helped launch a podcast. I learned how to review tax documents and translate Faculty Senate policy. My byline has been on the front page many, many times and more than 350 of the posts in WordPress are mine.

But nothing has meant more to me than that first blog that another reporter had to drag out of me. Because that’s what this institution does. Though informing the community is The Hatchet’s biggest mandate, training the next generation of journalists to fall in love with their profession is what makes it great.

Thank you to everyone who helped me every step of the way.

Courtesy of Hannah Roaten

Leah: Wow, I have always dreaded this day a little bit. Not because it would mean the end of our friendship (you can’t get rid of me that easily) but because I have always been a little nervous to admit how much you have changed my life. Before I met you, I was sure I knew everything that I needed to know and that I had met all of the kinds of people I would need to know. I didn’t know that when you came into my life you would match me in so many ways. We both love musicals and dirty jokes more than is appropriate and we quote the Grinch like it’s the only movie we’ve ever seen. More than being my perfect companion, you also have challenged me to be more empathetic, a better writer, a more thorough reporter. We always joke about how wildly different we are now than when we were dumb little freshmen, but I know that your love and support have made me a better person. My college experience would have nothing without all our late nights on the Vern, dramatic storytelling voices and Georgetown sleuthing. Love you always.

Cayla: Saying thank you to you is hard because there were so many times when I wanted to say anything but thank you. And now recognizing how much I learned and grew under your guidance makes me sad that I didn’t appreciate the friend and mentor I had nearly enough. Gossiping with you in the newsroom made my day almost every day of sophomore year when I really needed something to keep me going. You are truly a machine of a journalist and somehow you have your claws in everything. I definitely will never forgive you for making fun of my fashion choices nor the dozens of ruthless pranks you pulled over the years, but I feel so lucky to have met you and been intimidated by you at The GW Hatchet.

Sarah R.: I am more proud of you than I can say. You have led the paper this year with grace and resilience that has been such a privilege to watch. Because of you, it was easy not to feel washed up and old even though in reality I was a little bit of both of those things. You are a leader that thrives because you hold onto your empathy and compassion. More than the amazing leader you have grown to become, you managed to still be a friend that I treasure. Somehow you have time to show off your infamous YouTube videos or choreograph a dance. You’re always looking at the next big thing and you have the ability to make sure that everybody is coming along with you. I will miss you telling me to turn off my “stressful” music and making water and Panera runs for you.

Parth: Clown, unfortunately, you really grew on me. You never hid your sharp intelligence or wealth of knowledge about a seemingly endless number of topics, but I’m so glad that I also got to know the side of you that is such a sweet friend. Even with all the jokes you make about the culture and sports section, there is almost no one on this paper who cares about the institution more than you. During the uncertainty of this pandemic, it helps me sleep at night to know that soon you and Liv will be back on campus, fighting over picas and tracking into the wee hours of the morning.

Elise and Liz: I’m not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t been inducted into frands. Thank you both for being the best neighbors and the best witch coven. Elise, I will never forget the beautiful girl who showed me around the townhouse for the first time and made me feel welcome. I don’t know if I will ever get over how willing you are to talk about my life at the most random times and it feels like we talk every day. Liz, you have the special gift of being able to make someone feel like the most special person in the world. I can remember so many times when your speedy transcribing saved my life and you offered to help without giving it a second thought. Now that we are both out of the townhouse, it’s clear to me how much I looked to you as an example then and now for how to be a devoted friend.

Andrew and Lillianna: Thank you for believing in me enough to hire me for Vol. 114. I was kind of a lot back then, so thank you for putting up with me for the whole volume. Lillianna: I’ll never forget our special talent shows. You were tough but I know that you wanted to push me to get better. Andrew: You looked out for every single person on the news team and I will always treasure that feeling of knowing that someone who knew me for such a short time had my back. Sophomore year was a challenging time for me that I have tried to forget for the most part, but your leadership and friendship made everything so much better.

Courtesy of Hannah Roaten

Emma and Arianna: You believed in the podcast when it was just a name and two eager freshman co-hosts. You were both examples of the best of The Hatchet because you were so good at your jobs and still had time and energy to lift other people up. Arianna, I miss your tiny finger hand every day.

Liz P and Tyler: You will always be the dynamic duo in my mind and the most chaotic energy I have ever had the distinct pleasure to be around. Thanks for making me feel like I was a part of something even if that something was pure tomfoolery.

Sam H: With you in the townhouse there was never a dull moment. If you hadn’t run up and down the stairs of the old townhouse doing whatever ridiculous things, I might have actually turned in some drafts on time. I will definitely never pay you back for all the Meredith-wrangling that you had to do but I hope you know how much I appreciated your kind heart and wacky hijinks.

Zach: Congrats on a great year as finance/administration editor! I understand the challenges and struggles of your job so I know that you had a lot on your plate but still pulled it off. My biggest regret from this year is not having enough time to gossip more with you. Watching you and the news team this year was so gratifying because the bond you all formed is what this institution is about. Please never lose that special connection you guys have.

Amy: I’m so proud of all the work that you’ve done on staff. There is a special kind of joy that I get from seeing a reporter that started in my section grow and completely outshine me. I admire how you are never afraid to speak your mind and be yourself completely. You have never made a Tiktok that is not funny, so keep shining on the social team this year.

Justine: It is easy to be best friends with a group of people when you spend more time at the townhouse than anywhere else. But it is much harder to stay close when that is suddenly taken away. Somehow you managed to do it flawlessly. No matter how long we go without seeing each other, you always make me feel like we are back on the news team together. You were always one of the role models that I looked up to as a reporter and a writer because your creativity and empathy made your work great.

Dani: It was an honor to write haikus with you during class. I’m so thankful that I got to know you as more than “that girl who walked into Ellie’s office demanding to know how to become editor-in-chief.” Thank you for being a friend I could rely on really from the minute you got on the news team. You have the determination and self-assuredness that I wish I had, and I know that you are going to go on to do great things.

Avery: I have never met anyone who is more kind and generous, but you put the fear of God into me on several occasions. Your intelligence and talent intimidated me more than anything else that I came across in college. When you invited me over for dinner, I thought there was nothing else I could do that would make me happier. I will never forget when you told me that being a news editor was trial by fire and told me that I was going to make it through when I wasn’t really sure if I was or not.

Jared: You are taking on one of the toughest jobs on the paper and I couldn’t be more excited to see what amazing content you and Sarah make next year. Remember that even though you may not get your name in print every week like you did this year, your work is so important to putting together the newspaper that makes the GW community better.

Alec and Sarah S.: I’m so proud of both of you for your hard work during this transition period. I know that it might be hard right now to think about what normal looks like but I know that when you are back on campus you are going to make some wonderful podcasts. Alec: How are you so great at being a host already? When I started, I was way more nervous and shy. Keep being confident in yourself and the great training you have gotten from The Hatchet. Sarah: You have been a constant joy for me this entire year. I have never had to doubt your commitment and dedication to your work and I continued to be amazed every time you stepped up in the section. On top of being great in the podcast section, I watched you succeed in all of the culture stories you wrote. You have many talents and I hope that you are proud of what you’ve done this year.

Natalie and Kelly: Sorry about making y’all’s lives pretty tough. Copy editors do so much for the paper and are never appreciated as much as you should be. Thanks for saving me from myself more than I’ll ever know. Natalie: Thanks a million for your support in the never-ending war against Parth. I will always remember how you stood up for Taylor Swift and musical theater in the basement on those late nights. Kelly: I am so impressed with the talent you have for writing and reporting. You are always on the grind but are always humble which can be hard to find in SMPA.

Sidney: It has been such a joy to watch you lead the culture section this year. Your kindness and sweet disposition has made working with you on the podcast so enjoyable. It meant a lot to me that you tried to improve every week and it’s so impressive how hard you worked and still kept a positive attitude.

Ladies of the news team: Shannon: You are such a beautiful dancer and I’m so glad that we could be in Balance together. I’m so proud of all the work you have done this semester and I can’t wait to see what you will do. Ilena: Even back when you were the Academics star baby, I knew you were going to do great things. You were so dedicated and the more we got to know you, the more we realized how fun you were to be around. Lia: Thank you for putting up with being on the podcast all year. I know sometimes it was a lot to ask with your busy schedule, but I always enjoyed having you on and hearing about the amazing things you were doing in your section.

Dante and Heidi: The video team lost a strong leader in Arianna but it’s been so impressive to watch you pick up the mantle. Not only have you been creating video content in the middle of a pandemic, but your videos all year have been so high quality and have pushed the envelope.

Arielle: I loved having you on the podcast team for a little bit this year and getting to know you during late nights at the townhouse. Keep the veggie gang pride going next year!

Brielle, Belene and Emily: If I had had some of the horror stories of roommates that I hear about other freshmen in college having, I never would have made it to sophomore year. All of you helped me feel welcome in college and a new city and that GW was something worth experiencing.

My beautiful family: No matter how many times you told me to quit every job that I had at this newspaper, your support for me and pride in me never wavered. Everything I have done here has been in an effort to try to make you proud. Thank you for standing by me and for letting me talk out every single decision I ever made even after I forgot to call you for weeks.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.