Heidi Estrada: The complex timeline

Media Credit: Arielle Bader | 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.

Student journalism was not in the cards for me. When I first stepped foot on campus, I dreamed of interning on Capitol Hill as most Elliott kids do. I was supposed to be exploring the political scene of the city throughout my time at GW – that’s why I chose this school. Now here we are: three years later and my entire college experience has revolved around The Hatchet. But don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I came into GW with so much confidence in myself. I was ready to take on the world. After the first couple of weeks freshman year, reality set in and I quickly realized that I was a small fish in a big pond. I knew the transition to college would be difficult, but I didn’t expect it to overwhelm me the way it did. The confidence I had in August was gone by September.

I spent that first semester miserable. It seemed like everyone had it figured out and was moving 100 miles an hour, and there I was standing still and alone. I was frustrated with myself because I felt like I wasn’t on the same timeline as everyone else. 

Spring semester rolled around, and I became tired of being miserable. I forced myself to join one student organization in hopes that it would give me something to look forward to. I decided to join the video section of The Hatchet because I thought it would be cool to make videos. Little did I know that I would come to fall in love with the art of videography – changing the entire trajectory of my college experience. 

Learning how to use a camera wasn’t the hardest thing in the world. I quickly learned which button to press to record and how to position interviewees in frame. Learning how to use Adobe Premiere Pro was a whole other story. Prior to joining The Hatchet, I had only ever used free video editing apps on my phone to make videos. When I first saw the timeline of a completed video in Premiere, I was intimidated. The timeline seemed so complex, all the colors and layers confused me. Yet at the same time, I was intrigued by it and approached learning the editing software as a sweet challenge. 

I took it step by step. I first learned how to cut a video, which only involves having two layers in the timeline: one video layer and one audio layer. As I became more familiar with Premiere, I started to add complexity to the timeline by adding more layers for text, broll and music. I soon become obsessed with the complexity of the timeline because the more complex the timeline is, the more elements a video has.

I became confident in my editing skills and this confidence started to reflect in other parts of my life. I was no longer concerned with not being on the same timeline as my peers because I had taken control of my own timeline. So I may not have interned on Capitol Hill like I dreamed of doing, but I ended up doing something much more worthwhile. I became a visual storyteller – a skill I didn’t even know I was capable of – and I found the greatest group of people.

I wouldn’t be the storyteller I am today if it weren’t for the amazing editors I’ve had the privilege of working with. I’m incredibly grateful for you all:

Dante: Thank you for being patient with me. I must’ve sent you hundreds of texts asking you questions about how Premiere worked, and I’m so grateful that you answered every single time in a matter of minutes. I can’t count how many times I freaked out because either something went wrong in Premiere or during an interview, and you were always so calm about it. I admire your ability to remain calm even when it feels like everything is falling apart. You’re always looking for ways to improve the video section, and I’m in awe of your dedication. I remember there were quite a few times I wanted to quit staff, and I never went through with it because I knew I had you by my side. 

Sarah: Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone. I remember when I first joined staff I expressed my frustration with video only doing event coverage because I felt like the video section had so much more potential. You could’ve shut me down and said this is the way it’s always been and will continue to be. Instead, you heard me out and allowed me to explore different ways we could expand our coverage. You also challenged me to grow as a journalist, and I’m grateful for your leadership. The video section wouldn’t be what it is today without your encouragement to diversify our content. Thank you for believing in us. I feel lucky to have had you as my boss these past two years. 

Amanda: Thank you for being positive and flexible. Whenever I needed help on a video, I knew I could reach out to you and you’d respond in a heartbeat. I was the first to train you as a videographer, and it’s been incredible to watch you step into your role as a video editor. I can’t wait to see how you help lead the video section next year. 

Arianna: Thank you for welcoming me onto the video team with open arms. You were always so sweet, and I looked forward to our weekly budgeting meetings, even if it meant I had to take a late night Vex to come to the townhouse freshman year. My only regret is not joining The Hatchet earlier. I feel like I could’ve learned so much more from you. 

Arielle: Thank you for taking my photos for my 30! I’m continuously impressed with the photos you take and can’t wait to see what you do in the future. Last semester when I realized you were in my science communication course, I was relieved because it was my first time taking an SMPA course, and it was comforting to know I had a friend in the class. Thank you for helping me get through that class. 

Emily: Thank you for being so kind and always keeping the video section company in the basement. Editing in the townhouse can be lonely because our computer is shoved into the back corner of the basement, but I always looked forward to editing on Sundays because I knew you would be there to chat with. 

Lizzie: Thank you for being such a great example of what it means to be a journalist. No matter what time of day or night it is, you’re always the first one there to report a story. You’re the hardest working person I know, and I aspire to be as great as you. 

Aaron: Thank you for all you do with the website. We’re not close at all I think I’ve had maybe one conversation with you but I’m really grateful for everything you do. The video team has come to you with ideas about how we want a certain design to look, and you’ve exceeded our expectations every single time.

Thais: I can’t wait to see you grow! It’s been an absolute joy to work with you this year, and I’m excited to see what you do as you step into your new role. 

Other staff: I wish I could’ve had the opportunity to get to know you all better. Being on Zoom this past year has made building community difficult. Although I may not know many of you, I see the work you do and I’m in awe of your dedication to this publication. Even when we were evacuated off campus and scattered to different parts of the world because of COVID, we never let the quality of our work diminish. Every single week we showed up and delivered the news. Every section was challenged with having to shift their coverage as we went online, and I’m impressed with how well we all adjusted.

Family and friends: Thank you for being understanding when I couldn’t answer your FaceTime calls. Receiving a text from me that said “I’m working on a video” became the norm, and I’m thankful that you guys always responded with grace. Mom and dad, thank you for supporting me, even though making videos isn’t what I originally came to GW to do.

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