Lauren Sforza: Learning to tell stories

Media Credit: Auden Yurman | Senior 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.

I’ve grown up surrounded by journalism — but only after joining The Hatchet did I consider it a career.

My dad has been a working journalist for over 25 years. I grew up searching for his name in the newspaper, visiting his newsroom and anxiously waiting for him to get home late at night after a busy news day. I always admired what he did, but I never seriously considered following in his footsteps. I was dead set on running a political campaign or maybe even going to law school, but journalism, although interesting, never appealed to me as a career.

Looking back, I can’t exactly pinpoint why I wanted to join The Hatchet my freshmen year. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I had no experience reporting and interviewing. I had seen my dad deal with the highs and lows of the industry and was unsure if this organization would be right for me. Nevertheless, I wrote, edited and stressed over my Hatchet application and submitted it in September 2019.

At 18 years old and brand new to GW, I had no idea that soon enough, I would be interviewing students during a pandemic, studying tedious facts about the Student Association and eventually planning the annual fall conference as managing director.

As many professionals in the field will tell you, journalism is an addiction — one that is infamous for causing burnout, amplifying stress and sacrificing sleep. And once I took my first story at The Hatchet, I knew I was in trouble. I finally understood (somewhat) why my dad stayed in the field for over 25 years — journalism was exhilarating.

Auden Yurman | Senior Photo Editor

Joining the student life beat meant meeting students who were passionate about how they wanted to change GW for the better. Whether it was a student organization planning a University-wide event, or the Student Association advocating for U-Pass, the students were eager to make a difference in our small community, and I was determined to tell their stories.

The student life beat defined my tenure at The Hatchet. I fell in love with reporting on the community and helping shape students’ experiences at GW. And I realized that this is something that for now, I wanted to pursue as a career.

During that virtual year of the pandemic my sophomore year, it was The Hatchet that helped me retain a sense of normalcy and a strong connection to GW. I still wrote for the student life beat and was proud of reporting on students’ experiences with the pandemic, student reactions to the insurrection and how students adjusted to the virtual semester. I grew more obsessed with writing and talking to students, which prompted me to transfer to SMPA to seek a career in journalism.

During this time when no one was talking to each other in person, it was important to me to uplift these students’ voices and concerns in The Hatchet. What was even more important to me was just getting the chance to meet new people, even if it was virtual.

As student government editor, I was tasked with a niche and somewhat amusing beat. I learned way too much about the SA constitution, lost sleep interviewing student senators and spent more time in the townhouse than my dorm just to write about yet another student court lawsuit. Yet sometimes frivolous, the stories I wrote helped educate the community on what their elected student leaders advocated for, what they spent the SA budget on, and how they worked to make GW a better place.

My friends often ask me why I bothered to stay on the paper these last few years, as it took up most of my free time, especially when I worked my on-campus job or had an internship. And at times, I asked myself the same question. The Hatchet took time away from social life, schoolwork and probably much more. But I stayed because I enjoyed working hard to elevate students’ voices. Moreover, I stayed because The Hatchet led me to meet some of my closest friends, making the late nights not only bearable but enjoyable.

Auden Yurman | Senior Photo Editor

Looking back on these past 3.5 years, I am grateful for the students I got to meet, inside and outside of The Hatchet. As a news editor, I prioritized building relationships with sources outside of the townhouse to produce my proudest work. I carried that priority with me as I worked to strengthen relationships between staff members as managing director.

As The Hatchet will enter its 120th volume next year, I am confident that it will continue telling critical student stories for years to come. This organization taught me how to write articles and interview sources, but it also showed me how I can be a part of something bigger. Eager student journalists will continue to fall in love with journalism and grow obsessed with their individualized beats. As for me, I am just looking forward to what comes next.

Thank you to everyone who supported me every step of the way:

Isha: My other half of The Hatchet parenting team! I’m so grateful that we became so close over the last two years through planning bonding events, managing staff and endless happy hours. When I joined the news team, I was immediately impressed by your dedication to your beat and the paper. You know the ins and outs of GW more than anyone else here and shaped The Hatchet’s coverage for years to come. It’s bittersweet that we are both graduating this semester, but I’m so glad the Hatchet brought us together (even when we were stressed). I’m so excited to see what you do next because I know it will be great. And looking forward to future happy hours postgrad!!

Jarrod: I can’t believe that three years ago we were reporters on the student life team, going to SA meetings and listening to Lizzie tell us all of the student life drama. Whether it was 4 a.m. email prodos, dealing with student court cases or editing the entire SA guide, you helped me navigate a somewhat stressful beat last year. Anyways, I’m so proud of everything you have accomplished at The Hatchet so far. Your dedication to each story and attention to detail has only strengthened The Hatchet for the better. You’re a natural leader and journalist, and you will go far in wherever you go. I hope you will catch up on your sleep soon.

Abby: I am so happy we were paired up to lead the student life beat last year!! We immediately bonded not only by running all over campus to interview students and cover protests but also over our love of cold brew and Sweetgreen. Your drive and dedication to The Hatchet always inspired me, and I’m so excited for you to take over my role next semester. I know The Hatchet will continue to thrive with your wellness corners and marcel the shell addiction. In all seriousness, you bring light into every room you step in, whether it’s interviewing students, staff meetings or just talking with staff. You’re going to be amazing next semester, and I hope we will continue our coffee dates 🙂

Abrigail: You took on a brand new role at The Hatchet this year, and so grateful that you did! You have strengthened not only our coverage but our relationships with organizations across campus. Your leadership on the paper has been instrumental this year, from meeting with student leaders to helping organize the fall conference and training events, and I know the paper is better for it.

Zach: While you may worry me sometimes with a lack of sleep and newfound addiction to Panera Charged Lemonades, I am so happy I got to know you over these last two years! As we have talked about, you need to have a touch of crazy to work on The Hatchet. Whether it’s running out of the townhouse when you hear sirens or chasing down sources, your commitment to your beat and the paper is impressive. Working on the news team together (even covering U-Pass) was so much fun last year and I am so proud that you have led the news team so well this year. I really hope you can get some well-deserved rest soon.

Nick: I remember us working on one of the first SA stories of the year last year and am so proud of how far you have come on The Hatchet. I knew I could not get you to cover SA meetings forever — and so glad that you decided to lead the news team this year. Being a SNE is one of the hardest jobs both on and off The Hatchet, and you have managed the role incredibly well and I know our coverage is stronger because of you. You’re going to do amazing things, keep killing it next semester.

Erika: I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear that you were going to be taking over the student government beat last year!! It’s an incredibly demanding job, but you have killed it this semester despite the frequent late nights that seem to keep occurring. I can’t wait to see what you do with the election guide this year, and I know you are going to be great!

Tara: Another survivor of the student life beat from freshmen year. You have always taken stories with such passion, and I’m so proud to see you excel as a news editor this year. I’m glad we have become close over the years, and I know you will continue to do great things!

Henry: You immediately stood out to me last year in our student life beat. You always were available to help me with SA meetings, source students for student life and then later stepped up on staff. I’m so glad I got to know you over the last year, and so proud to see you go from a reporter to a fact checker to an editor within the last year. You’ll do amazing things in whatever you do, and I hope no one invites you to go ice skating anytime soon.

Nikki and Faith: I may be biased, but student life will always be my favorite beat. You guys have taken such a large and important beat and have published impressive pieces about all different student issues. You both are smiling every time I see you, and can’t wait to see what you both do next.

Ethan: One of the hardest jobs on staff is leading our opinions team, and you have done such an incredible this year. I’ll miss our walks from the Press Club to discuss anything from breaking news to the SA to what my opinions column would be if I wasn’t on news. I’m excited to see where you take the opinions section over the next year because I know it will be excellent.

Amanda: I’m so glad we have had so many SMPA classes together over the past two years!! From debriefing sessions to stressing over our class assignments, I’m so grateful that we got so close. You have singlehandedly led the video team this semester and continue to bring new and exciting videos to the Hatchet every week.

Jaden: Not sure what The Hatchet would have done without your copy expertise for the last two years! Copy is crucial to our work at the paper, and you have only strengthened it these pasts couple of years through holding training sessions, answering our questions and meeting with reporters. You’re an incredible leader, and I know you’ll be fantastic as managing editor next semester.

Nuria: You have led the sports section so well this semester! I can tell how much you care about every story you publish, and I am looking forward to seeing where you take the section next. I’m so grateful we got closer this semester, even if it was just complaining about classes. You’re such a positive light in whatever I do, and I hope to see your byline somewhere soon!

Clara and Julia: If there was one section I would have wanted to write for more, it would have definitely been the culture section for this past volume. You both have taken the section to new heights by bringing fresh story ideas to the paper each week. The guides have all been incredible, and I am so impressed with all the work you both do. I can’t wait to see what the spring brings for each of you.

Nicholas, Maura, Isabella: I wish I spent more time in the basement working with all of you because the work you do is incredible. The guides and graphics and everything in between have been amazing, and your hard work is crucial to the success of the paper.

Shea and Cristina: The both of you stepped up to take over the copy section last year, and I am so happy you did. I wish I got to know both of you better, but I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your work. Copy is critical to The Hatchet, and I am so glad to see the two of you thrive in it.

Sejal: You stepped up last year to take over such a unique position at The Hatchet, and I am so glad you did. From covering protests to working on the podcast, I always admired your drive and passion for every story you take on. Keep building up the news podcast section — you’ll continue to do great work on and off The Hatchet.

SA Sources: My year as student government editor was filled with ups and downs, but I was so happy to meet the people I did here. I appreciate the strong relationships I built with many of you and will forever have strange but amusing stories to tell about reporting on the SA.

Past Volumes:

Jared: When I first joined staff, I was immediately impressed, and a little intimidated, by your commitment to the paper, and I am so happy that your extra year here allowed me to get to know you so much more. You made yourself available to listen to my rants, advised me when I needed it and helped me shape the student government beat.

Zach: I was so glad that I got the chance to work with you last year. Your dedication to this paper has always inspired me, along with your scary amount of knowledge about GW. Thank you for working with me for eight hours on the SA cover story last year and somehow digging through tons of archives for that. You showed me how to dig deeper into each story, and thank you so much for that.

Tiffany: You set such a great example of how a student life beat should run during my sophomore year through our coverage. From covering the pandemic to Greek life to election day coverage, you gave 100 percent to every story you worked on. I was so excited that you came back as managing director last year! You treat everyone with kindness and respect, and that is reflected through everything you do.

Grace Hromin: We met in Math & Politics during my freshman year, and I am so glad we did. We covered countless SA and SBA meetings together, and I knew I could always count on you to talk to. Your leadership as senior photo editor pushed the photo team to new limits, and I am so lucky to have gotten to know you.

Lia and Sarah: Thank you both for setting examples of what strong leadership looks like. Although I did not get the chance to know either of you too well, I admired how you led the paper both during the pandemic and returning to in person. It was not until I joined management that I fully understood the difficulty of your positions, and I respect you both so much for leading us.

Makena and Lizzie: Thank you each for setting examples of what the student government beat should look like. The student government is a demanding beat filled with sleepless nights, and I am so impressed how you both did it for so long. You set up our coverage for years to come, and thank you for that!

To my family and friends:

My family: I would not have made nearly four years at The Hatchet without the support from you all. Thank you mom and dad for showing me what it means to be passionate about your career. You both care so much about what you do and I learn every day from both of you. Charlotte, I’m so proud of you and everything you are working toward at Syracuse. I brag about you so much at school, and I can’t wait for our coffee and bagel runs soon on break 🙂

My friends: I have always joked about how friends and roommates of The Hatchet staff should have a support group for hearing about all the happenings at the newspaper. Thank you all for understanding why I couldn’t go out because I was in the townhouse, listening to my rants and supporting me whenever I needed it.


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