In the weeks since the killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, the country has mourned and taken to the streets to demand social justice and change.
To be clear: Black lives matter. The Hatchet aims to be a newspaper that is inviting to writers, photographers and videographers of all backgrounds, and I strive to make 609 21st St. NW a welcoming place for all. But I would be remiss not to speak out at this time, as I know The Hatchet, a 117-year-old institution, can and must do better to cover, include and represent our Black classmates, faculty and administrators.
I am a White woman, and in the time I have been on Hatchet staff, the majority of my colleagues – be they editors, editorial board members or the Board of Directors – have also looked like me. This is a problem – both intrinsically, and also because diversity makes our stories more thorough, comprehensive and inclusive.
Administrators, local leaders, students and alumni engage with our coverage to stay in tune with GW and Foggy Bottom. When I’m editing, I consider our audience and the stories we have a responsibility to tell. Where I believe our biggest failure in recent history lies is in the stories we have not reported – but had a responsibility to cover. The Hatchet has not earned the trust of many underrepresented communities on campus because we’ve failed to establish strong relationships with them or covered their stories inaccurately, which hinders relationships and therefore our ability to report.
As this paper’s leader, I know the buck stops with me in taking actions to address this paper’s longstanding trust issue. I will continue to identify and rectify areas where I believe The Hatchet has fallen short with respect to reporting, recruitment and practices. I am working to educate myself about my own privilege and how it affects the way I edit and guide this newspaper and its coverage. We have held and will continue to hold implicit bias training with current staff and new reporters, writers, videographers and photographers and plan to improve recruitment efforts to reach more nonwhite students interested in journalism come fall.
But most importantly, I will listen – actively and attentively – to feedback. Comments from our community, more often than one might expect, help us shape our policies and practices. Readers interested in offering feedback on – or learning about – any aspect of The Hatchet can reach Managing Editor Parth Kotak and me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome criticism and believe it is necessary to receive when enacting change.
Finally, The Hatchet will contribute 20 percent of every donation made to the institution from now until the start of the fall semester to Street Sense Media, a D.C. publication that lends a voice to some of the most marginalized members of our community. As an independent student newspaper that does not receive University funding, our finances are perennially tight, but we still believe it is necessary to contribute whatever we can in alignment with our values and priorities.
Meanwhile, I encourage our readers to support Black journalists and Black student journalists, both by donating or joining the following local and national organizations and newspapers.