Former editor-in-chief bids farewell to The Flat Hat

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SARAH SMITH / THE FLAT HAT

My career with The Flat Hat started fairly simply. I, like the rest of the class of 2019, received an email from then Editor-in-Chief Áine Cain ’16 encouraging new students to take a leap of faith and join the newspaper’s fall intern program. I was hooked instantly. I responded, practically begging to create a home for myself in an often-moldy, eclectic basement office. And create a home, I did.

These last almost four years working with The Flat Hat have undoubtedly defined who I became at the College of William and Mary. The Flat Hat solidified my career aspirations, gave me resume bullet points and taught me how to be confident in my abilities as a leader. Now, however, it’s time for me to say farewell, as my time as The Flat Hat’s editor-in-chief has come to an end.

My farewell is bittersweet. The Flat Hat is deadlines, both met and missed. It is a shadowy basement office filled with empty Marketplace containers, dysfunctional computers and 108 years of rich history. It is alumni that come back to share stories of censorship, star reporting and careers in journalism that blossomed at The Washington Post, POLITICO and Business Insider. It is a dusty Christmas tree adorned with an Edgar Allen Poe mask, a “Sky High” poster and leftover materials from 2015-era Assassins games.

The Flat Hat is a team of dedicated reporters, photographers, business associates and content creators. It is long Monday nights, busy weekends chasing down Tribe athletes and frequent emails to University Communications (thanks to Brian, Suzanne and Erin). During my time on staff, The Flat Hat has also been quality reporting. Strong leaders have brought new interests in data, page design and staff recruitment to an office always hurrying towards the future. During my sophomore year, I along with former Flat Hatters Tucker Higgins ’17 and Kayla Sharpe ’17 had the pleasure of being recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists for our coverage of the Aug. 27, 2016 shooting at The Crust.

However, The Flat Hat is also fun. It is writing profiles on passionate students, forming Campus Golf and Anchor Slam teams and taking weekly HUJI pictures. I’ve gotten to interview my fair share of dogs and Student Assembly representatives—fairly similar interview subjects—and have met with politicians up and down the ballot.

The Flat Hat is truly a campus institution. Over 108 years, it has had lots of stories to tell, bringing the College community together. Sometimes, this means that it brings the campus together to target The Flat Hat in Facebook and Twitter comments. Other times, The Flat Hat brings the College together through breaking news, stories that highlight injustice and quirky, Sadler plate-bashing editorials.

In many ways, The Flat Hat has become my heart and soul. Our weekly student newspaper has given me some of my best friends including four out of five of my apartment-mates. So now, please bear with me while I tell you a little bit more about them.

It is with great confidence that I hand over the reins to the paper’s 109th Editor-in-Chief Nia Kitchin ’20. She has already assumed the role with big ideas and tireless dedication, and previously served as news editor and managing editor with similar work ethic. I am excited to see what this next year will bring as her ideas continue to unfold.

Ethan Brown ’21, Brendan Doyle ’20 and Maggie More ’20 will join Kitchin as the managing, executive and digital media editors. All three bring such passion, enthusiasm and dedication to the staff. I have seen Brown bring humor, a willingness to dye his hair in the office and several of his best friends to The Flat Hat. Doyle has been along for the ride for years, constantly working to implement big ideas of his own. As sports editor, he helped pick up the pace, making The Flat Hat a strong competitor with local sports publications. More, a newcomer last year, has never turned down an opportunity to help; whether that means drawing last minute graphics or writing stress relief roundups, she has gone above and beyond. I am confident these three will accomplish amazing things as executive staff.

Taking on the role of business managers are Amelia Sandhovel ’22 and Maddie Douglas ’22. They have big shoes to fill, but have already demonstrated their capabilities to keep the paper afloat through the launch of an alumni newsletter and One Tribe, One Day plans.  Kevin Richeson ’20 will serve as the paper’s new operations coordinator, and I have no doubt that he will bring more new writers to staff than ever before. His email-checking diligence, big heart and willingness to serve will help the paper immensely.

Rounding out the executive staff is Adam An ’20. His computer science savvy will be much relied upon to keep our beloved flathatnews.com up and running, hopefully as quickly as possible.

This year, the news section will be graced with three more-than-capable editors in Heather Baier ’20, Leslie Davis ’21 and Emma Ford ’22. All three women have so much to offer, from data visualization skills to story-chasing determination, and front pages will be looking better than ever.  A few seats over, Avery Lackner ’22 and Gavin Aquin ’22 are filling sports editor positions. Both have true passion for the sports they cover, and I am excited to see the section continue to evolve towards features-focused coverage.

Adithi Ramakrishnan ’22 and Zoe Beardsley ’22 are taking over as variety editors, and they have both already demonstrated budding skills in design and writing. Together, they are a perfect fit for a section covering sheep, dogs and campus musicians.

In opinions, from the world of dining hall hot takes, Anna Boustany ’21 has climbed the ranks to opinions editor. Joining her is Chloe Folmar ’22. Together, they will make sure that Swampy Memes regularly has content and important voices are shared across campus. Their enthusiasm and bright personalities suit this section well.

In the online world, Claire Hogan ’22 and Naomi Gruber ’20 are taking on the “pivot to video” quite well and have already demonstrated their editing skills. Katherine Yenzer ’21 made the leap to blogs editor, joining Kate Lucas ’21 in publishing everything from movie reviews to academic columns. Newcomers Jamie Holt ’22 and Rebecca Klinger ’22 have already revitalized the photos section with sheer determination to be at every campus event. Olivia Koenig ’22 has breathed so much life into the paper as social media editor, increasing our presence on all platforms and tirelessly updating our Instagram stories.

Catching typos and oxford commas, Jae Chung ’22 and Zoe Connell ’21 have taken over as copy chiefs, blessing the rest of the staff from the inner office couches. Graphics editor Kayla Payne ’20 has produced excellent graphics and recruited incredibly talented artists, earning her the new title.

In the writing world, Alyssa Grzesiak ’20 made the shift to chief features writer where she will grace the variety section with Ultimate Frisbee profiles and articles on the College’s marine science work. Charles Coleman ’22 and Averill Meininger ’22 will work on the other side of the office as chief staff writers, bringing equal parts dedication and talent to an incredible news staff.

However, I can’t forget those who bid farewell with me.

Sean Willner ’19 was the office’s pun expert, video producing extraordinaire and frequent winner of best office personality awards.

Kiana Espinoza ’19, Moises Romero ’19 and Jack Bowden ’19 all will be sorely missed as well. Espinoza’s work to recruit and diversify the staff will have impact for years to come. Romero singlehandedly built up the paper’s business section and launched it into a profitable age. Bowden answered frequent frantic messages and kept our website afloat, navigating through server crisis after server crisis.

News editors Madeline Monroe ’19 and Leonor Grave ’19 and sports editor Julia Stumbaugh ’19 are also taking leave. Monroe’s love for milk-based drinks, her willingness to drive people and her top-notch Photoshop skills made the office a better place. Grave’s stellar Spotify playlists, well-researched pieces and dedication to student media brought a trendy, Parisian flare to the staff. Stumbaugh threw herself into sports coverage, developing quite a love for Tribe baseball and often brought new infographics and data-driven features to the section.

Over in the online section, editor Peter Eckel ’19 is retiring from his podcast-producing throne, leaving behind a legacy of eager new staff members that will hopefully take over our paper’s Soundcloud. Jae Cho ’19 is retiring after a year of curating a variety of graphics and making sure our opinions pages were never bare.  Copy editing triumvirate Lauren Bavis ’19, Rachel Wilmans ’19 and Kate Sandberg ’19 are all leaving at once. They have solved infinite hyphen crises, fixed punctuation and debated formatting for hours. They have made all of our writing much stronger and have become a very dear trio to the entire staff.

Last but not least are chief features writer Akemi Tamanaha ’19 and chief staff writer William Allen ’19. Tamanaha’s long Flat Hat career culminated in this final position, where she produced a very well-received “College of Mary.” Allen joined the staff just this fall, but has been a constant presence in the office with his colorful hair and beautiful personality.

I’d also like to shout out Katherine Koontz ’19 and Jacob Ross ’19. Both have served The Flat Hat in various positions, writing about everything from sports to campus canine celebrities. I am confident they will continue to contribute their top-notch writing over the next weeks. Former section editors Kyra Solomon ’19, Abby Graham ’19 and Chris Travis ’19 might have taken leave of the College a semester early, but all graced the paper with their work for several semesters. Photos, movie review blogs and sports columns all were touched with their passion.

It’s truly been an honor to work with all of these talented and lovely people. Stabilitas et fides.