Outgoing Editor-in-Chief Katherine Chiglinsky reflects on the year

Every year, some Flat Hat staff members attend a collegiate journalism conference. And every year, we’re all drawn to one informational session on how to attract new staff members.

My sophomore year, I attended that session. Intrigued, I listened to a well-meaning faculty advisor who doled out advice on how to recruit new writers. The advice? If you can’t pay or offer them credit, then make sure the coffee’s always brewing, the refrigerator’s well-stocked and the microwave works. Otherwise, people will avoid signing up to work for the newspaper.

I’m sorry to report that our coffee maker only lasted two weeks, our microwave is questionable, and our refrigerator is a nice room-temperature storage unit. But despite that, at 5 p.m. four nights a week, the office tucked in the basement of the Campus Center is busy as reporters put finishing touches on their articles, photographers edit their work, and editors wage their daily battles with InDesign.

At a college where people pride themselves on the length and breadth of their to-do lists, the sight’s refreshing. Four days a week, the students put away their incredibly long and oh-so-diverse to-do lists to assemble The Flat Hat.

The staff’s commitment to journalism at the College of William and Mary, despite the lack of fresh coffee in the office, is a testament to the dedication and intelligence of the individuals. In the end, the paper would never have lasted more than 100 years without the individuals who continue to believe that good journalism, mixed with a deep-seated love of your college, can only help the institution become a better place for all members of the Tribe.

The 2013-14 staff had the perfect mixture of intelligence and dedication. A young group at the beginning, they quickly rose to the challenge, carrying this paper to new heights. Every story idea they brainstormed, every ghost hunt they pursued, and every page they handed me to edit made me immensely proud to work with them.

Next year’s staff has the skills to make it another successful year at the paper. Emily Lowman ’15 and Rachel Neely ’15 will serve as copy chiefs for the next year, making sure all those Oxford commas are gone and the staff’s constant questions about capitalization and abbreviation are answered.

Talented photographers Ashley Richardson ’17 and Carol Peng ’17 will continue to serve as the paper’s photo editors, bringing color and life to every section.

Helping to teach new writers and tackle larger stories, former associate variety editor Sarah Caspari ’15 will now serve as chief staff writer. Editorial writer Matt Camarda ’16 will continue to serve as editorial writer, making sense of the editorial board’s sometimes-nonsensical conversations about campus. Both strong writers, Matt and Sarah will continue to maintain the high standards of print journalism that The Flat Hat values.

After serving as online editor, Zach Hardy ’15 took over as chief staff writer this past year. Constantly churning out articles for the paper, Zach was invaluable as both a writer and fellow staff member.

As the new opinions editor, Daria Grastara ’17 will continue to make sure the paper serves as the students’ voice. A strong editorial writer herself, Daria promises to bring a fresh set of ideas to the section.

While his wit in the opinions section will be missed, former opinions editor Zachary Frank ’15 will move to the online section this year. An integral part in filming the ghost hunt of Tucker Hall, Zachary has the intelligence, skills and good humor to lead the paper into a more digital age. Joining him, former news editor Annie Curran ’16 will add her impeccable sense for news and her commitment to new ideas to the section.

Jack Powers ’15 and Chris Weber ’15 will continue to lead the sports section as the gurus of all things Tribe Pride. Whether it’s teaching people how to precisely pack the Kap or talking to basketball players about their love of pugs, Jack and Chris will continue to investigate all aspects of the sports world.

Leading the section that stole my heart as a freshman, Sang Hyun Park ’17 and Jillian Bates ’16 will continue the tradition of witty headlines, colorful stories and brilliant kickers as variety editors. Sang and Jillian bring new ideas and amiable personalities to the section.

After having captained the variety section solo, Áine Cain ’16 will take the wheel as news editor. A dedicated worker, Áine brought new life to the variety section and shows great promise as news editor. Plus, her music playlists will continue to be the one source of music the staff can always agree to play. She will be joined by former associate news editor Rohan Desai ’17 who showed an unmatched commitment and strong sense for news in his first semester at the College.

Taking the helm, Ellen Wexler ’15 will continue to serve as executive editor, Abby Boyle ’15 will serve as managing editor, and Meredith Ramey ’15 will serve as editor-in-chief.

Stepping into the role as executive editor last year, Ellen ably led the opinions, variety and photos sections. Her ability to remain calm in hectic situations, her comprehensive editing skills especially with tricky opinion pieces, and her ability to whip up last-minute graphics has always been amazing. She will continue to steer the sections on a progressive, yet stable and well-thought-out, course.

When she became news editor last year, Abby brought her impressive set of skills from the variety section, along with her refreshing and endearing personality, to the news section. Abby served as a positive leader during her time in both variety and news, and I have great faith in her ability to lead the news, sports, online and copy sections in the coming year.

Back during her freshman year, Meredith faced the questions of the news editors and executive staff as we approached her to investigate a large Student Assembly story for us. Despite being a monumental task for a freshman, Meredith never faltered. Since that moment, I have always had faith in her ability to chase a big story, to lead staff members, and to help initiate change in the paper. She will guide the paper through a time of even bigger change, but with her intelligence and commitment to the paper, it can only be smooth sailing.

The paper must bid farewell to a crop of seniors that have seen it evolve over the years.

Rebecca Marshall ’14 and April Smith ’14 have been godsends to the paper, catching the staff’s mistakes as copy editors and teaching the new generation of grammar hawks as copy chiefs.

Throughout her years at the paper, Ariel Cohen ’14 has been a go-to writer even before serving as chief staff writer. She always knew how to find the scoop on a good story and her dedication to reporting was impressive. Her enthusiasm for both journalism and The Flat Hat was unmatched.

Serving as sports editor for two years and online editor for one year, Jared Foretek ’14 will leave behind a legacy of passionate sports-reporting and dedication to the online version of the paper. His commitment to going the extra mile for large stories has always been an asset to The Flat Hat.

It’s tough to say goodbye to the pride of producing a paper twice weekly. It’s tough to say goodbye to four years of scouring campus for the next big scoop. In the end, I think it’s toughest to say goodbye to this group of people that have made this experience so memorable. There’s no greater feeling than knowing that when you return to the office each week, a group of the most hard-working and passionate individuals will be there to greet you, and that you will forever call them friends.

The Flat Hat may never be able to offer a fully functioning coffee machine, but as long as people fill this office with their journalistic passion and the bonds of friendship that sustain the organization, the water fountain’s refreshment will do just fine.


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