Outgoing Editor-in-Chief bids farewell

Claire Hogan ’22 is the outgoing editor-in-chief of The Flat Hat, and she’s allowed to be sentimental about it. Email her at cahogan@wm.edu.

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.

I pour my heart and soul into this paper for four years, and all I get is one lousy opinion piece? Ah well, better make the most of it.

Before I became the eleventy-first editor-in-chief of The Flat Hat, I was terrified that I would do a bad job. In my usual fashion, I downloaded half a dozen books on leadership before stepping into office, and I skimmed through all of them, searching for something that would prevent me from crashing this 111-year-old paper into the ground. Turns out, I didn’t need any of them. Not because I’m a particularly good leader, but because my staff was incredible. This paper boasts some of the most dedicated students on campus, people who are always pushing themselves and others to be better, do better, and report better. They have, in turn, made ME better, and I am inexpressibly thankful.

Over four years, this paper has shoved me, kicking and screaming, out of my comfort zone. My first ever article assignment was at the law school, a true reach for 18-year-old me, who had never interviewed anyone before, let alone in such an impressively intimidating setting. As someone who gets anxious ordering a cup of coffee at Aromas (WHY is there so little space to stand?), it was good for me. Over a hundred interviews later, I’m launching my career in journalism because this paper shaped the person that I became over my four years here.

This role makes you feel simultaneously like the most and least important person on campus, when you’re really somewhere in between — struggling to stay afloat just like everyone else. I had periods of deep paranoia fueled, in part, from the reality of administrators bringing up my name in conversations, looking at my social media pages, and generally being a nuisance when I was just trying to live my life. I had longer periods of joy, where I heard from people who loved our coverage and saw the impact that this paper can have on our little community.

And, of course, I had many long conversations about this institution, most of which went absolutely nowhere. 

The relationship between The Flat Hat and the College of William and Mary is — at worst — antagonistic and — at best — skeptical. We have no formal journalism program here, nor any sort of administrative oversight, which is both a blessing and a curse. We’re a bit like that plant in the corner of your dorm room that’s survived despite you forgetting to water it half the time. We’re shown off when it’s convenient, then abandoned when it’s not.

That’s not to say that it was all bad. I have experienced a great deal of kindness from the College, and a wonderful amount of support, both personally and on behalf of the paper. But college journalism is naturally unfriendly; when you’re reporting on the institution that is single-handedly controlling your livelihood, things necessarily get messy. Throughout my tenure, I was touted as a shining example of student leadership and initiative taking, while simultaneously being told to keep my nose out of things that didn’t concern me.

Since we’re largely left to fend for ourselves at The Flat Hat, the Editor must play both offense and defense at any given time, from any given side, on any given day. It’s exhausting, but I loved every minute of it. It’s been such an honor to serve this paper, and I will miss the long nights spent in the asbestos-laden basement of Campus Center, the flurry of emails and Slack messages that continually lit up my phone screen and the feeling of seeing my name in print. 

But the paper is left in the hands of incredible people.

Incoming Editor-in-Chief Lulu Dawes ’23 is charismatic, hilarious and, most of all, she cares about this paper more than anyone else. Lulu has a keen journalistic instinct and a knack for page design, both of which far surpass my own abilities. I relied on her heavily throughout my tenure as editor, so I have full confidence in her abilities to lead this paper to greatness.

On Lulu’s executive team are Molly Parks ’24, Ashanti Jones ’23, Erica Smedley ’24 and Alexandra Byrne ‘23.

I am so proud of Molly, who became news editor as a freshman and has stepped up as an editor, reporter and leader in the paper. She has already shown a striking level of dedication and perseverance, and I know that news and sports are in good hands with her as their managing editor.

Whenever Ashanti is in the office, everyone is happier. She is smart, kind and diligent. As a variety editor, she worked tirelessly to increase the scope of our coverage and she wrote some absolutely incredible pieces. I know that she’ll use her new role as executive editor to elevate the variety and opinions sections because her thoughtful leadership knows no bounds.

I have always described Erica as “someone who sees what needs to be done and does it.” As our social media editor, she was industrious, timely and always on top of things. I have a personal fondness for the role of digital media editor (my role before Editor-in-Chief), and I am excited that Erica is leading our digital coverage.

Alex is such an overachiever. Not only is she an international relations whiz and a stellar writer, but she is also the best investigative reporter that I know. Under her guidance, the news section has done more hard-hitting pieces (and submitted more FOIA requests) than ever before. And I don’t even know the full scope of her achievements because, on one memorable occasion, I showed up to report on a Board of Visitors meeting, only to find her speaking at the front of the room on behalf of the Student Assembly. She is genuinely remarkable, and even though she is in France, she will excel as operations coordinator.

In the news section, Callie Booth ’24, Abigail Connelly ’25 and Anna Arnsberger ’25 are taking over as editors. Callie is a kindhearted, dedicated individual with incredible ideas and leadership potential. Abigail and Anna have already shown striking prowess with page design and editing. Together, they make a fantastic team and I am so proud of both of them.

Nick Reeder ’24 is reprising his role in the data section, and thank goodness, because he is the best. Nick is always willing to go above and beyond his normal duties — I recall one memorable SA election night when we stayed on a Zoom call for three hours while waiting for results to come in — and he carries the invaluable data section on his back.

The sports section is left in the capable hands of Jake Forbes ’24. Jake wrote some fantastic pieces as a sports associate and, as long as Lulu doesn’t unplug his computer mid-page design, he will accomplish incredible things as editor because he cares for the College’s teams more than anyone else.

Caitlin Noe ’24 and Adam Jutt ’25 are our incoming opinions editors. Caitlin’s will be a familiar name for anyone who reads our opinions section, as her pieces are always timely and well-written. Adam’s writing is also delightful — I encourage everyone to read his piece on toilet paper to know what I mean. Opinions is always a tricky section to navigate, but I have confidence in their decision-making abilities.

The new variety editors are Madeleine Harris ’24 and Vivian Hoang ’24. Maddie stepped up mid-year into her role as editor, and she adapted to her new responsibilities with ease because she is calm and capable. Vivian is one of the strongest writers on the paper and I’m so glad she rose into a leadership position. Together, they will do great things.

Susie Stark ’22 is returning as copy chief, probably the most important role in the paper given the number of spelling mistakes and AP style violations which she catches every issue. Copy is a highly underrated section, without which the paper would completely disintegrate, and so I am also excited that Lucas Harsche ’23, our former opinions editor and an invaluable part of The Flat Hat team, is also our new copy chief.

Taylor Robertson ’23 is returning as business manager, hopefully making our paper less reliant on the College’s money and more organized in the realm of finances. Ryan Leventhal ’23 is also returning as webmaster, giving our poor website the love and care it deserves. Both of them are Atlas-like figures, doing the unglamorous but critically important work of holding this paper up behind the scenes.

Justin Sherlock ’23 is coming into dual roles as both photos editor and social media editor. As a talented photographer who has also showcased his Instagram prowess, I am thankful he joined the paper and I look forward to seeing more of his photos in print. He is a delightful member of any team and I don’t know how we managed without him.

Tara Vasanth ’23 and Yelena Fleming ’25 are our graphics editors, both of whom are incredibly talented artists as well as the nicest people I know. Yelena is also stepping up as podcasts editor (always a daunting task) and, as a podcast enthusiast, I am excited to see what she produces.

Van Monday ’24 is taking over as standards and practices editor, the second ever in the role at The Flat Hat. Van is a deep thinker, extremely ethically-minded and a genuinely great person. I know that, under Van’s leadership, the paper’s content will soar to new heights of accountability and integrity.

Linda Li ’24 and Ellie Kurlander ’24 have already made names for themselves as the new editors-in-chief of the Flat Hat Magazine. Both are talented writers with a strong artistic vision, and I know that their compassionate leadership will make the magazine better than ever. 

And now, of course, I must bid a bittersweet farewell to the outgoing senior class at The Flat Hat, who became some of my closest friends over the past four years.

Rebecca Klinger ’22 was the first friend I made in college outside my freshman hall. Of the incoming dozen interns in the online section, only the two of us remained after fall 2018 because we were both too stubborn to quit. Becca is an enigma: both stoic and incredibly compassionate, vibrant and diligently organized. While I’m her superior in The Flat Hat, she was mine in the Botetourt Squat, Media Council and Sinfonicron because she’s much more of a media mogul than I am. We never did have that fight to the death, Flat Hat editor vs. Squat editor, did we, Becca? We’ll have to take a rain check for that for when you’re rich and famous.

Matt Lowrie ’22 is the best person I know, and the sole reason I retained the few shreds of sanity that I currently possess. Despite me continually putting him in awkward situations due to the opinion pieces that I kept writing (sorry), he managed to cement his inaugural role of ombudsman into the core of our paper, tackling our controversies and continually pushing us to do better. He thinks deeply about journalism in a way that I admire, and his impact on The Flat Hat is immeasurable. Under his watchful eye, our coverage dramatically improved, and it will continue to do so under the office that he created. From early-morning pancake breakfasts to late night discussions of journalistic ethics, I don’t know what I would have done without him. Matt became a close friend of mine in an alarmingly short span of time, but if you knew him, you’d understand why. He is the first person I told when I got an actual post-grad job offer, and I immediately received a breathless audio message in response because he had stopped mid-run to congratulate me. Because he’s just that kind of person. 

Zoe Beardsley ’22 made my job easy, because she is competent, confident and one of the coolest people I know. Her wit and charisma cannot be exaggerated — she lights up every room that she is in. She bullied me into watching four seasons of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and made me keep watching “The Wheel of Time,” both of which turned out to be delightful because she is right about most things (except about the proper way to play Mario Kart). The paper probably would have fallen apart without her on my executive staff because she is a level-headed voice of reason and a natural leader. She is the only person who could get me to willingly watch Saturday Night Live, and she can and will succeed at everything she does.

Adithi Ramakrishnan ’22 and I actually met in a sci-fi club (“skiffy” to its friends) our freshman year. Or so she says — I don’t remember this specifically, but since we’re both unapologetic nerds who can quote from specific episodes of Doctor Who, it seems on-brand for both of us. She has a remarkable way with words that makes me pause while editing her pieces, just so that I can savor the prose. She is my go-to-friend for recommending books and I have no doubt that she will be a famous writer someday, in whatever form she finds most suitable. Oh, and did I mention that she’s a brilliant science journalist and an effortlessly hilarious storyteller? Yeah, because she’s also good at everything, and it’s simply not fair.

Jamie Holt ’22 is an immensely talented photographer and a caring friend. Her photos make you drop everything to look at them because they always paint a nuanced picture. She is a force to be reckoned with — a perfect mix of professional and humorous. Jamie is humble to a fault and she always underestimates her own professional prowess despite the fact that everyone around her is in awe of her talent. She is a jaw-droppingly good photographer, a fantastic writer and a delightful person to be around. I have full confidence in her ability to follow whatever dream strikes her fancy.

Charles Coleman ’22 made production nights my favorite night of the week. As news editor of two years, he glued the section together through the pandemic with his easygoing attitude and relentless work ethic. Charles and I have the same major — CAMS, if you feel like Googling it and questioning our life choices — and we have spent many hours commiserating over the classes we’ve taken, which made me feel much better about the whole situation. I will miss the dozens of misspelled words he scattered across his page designs, the tupperware containers full of pasta he brought to the office, and the cuttingly-accurate remarks that would make me cry laughing on Monday nights.

Nina Raneses ’22 was the best copy chief that anyone could ask for. Despite our insistence that “you don’t need to edit this piece right now” and “it can really wait until tomorrow,” Nina was a relentless force of raw editing power. If we laid down all the Oxford commas she removed from articles and placed them in a line, it would probably stretch from the Campus Center basement all the way to Boswell Hall and back. Beyond her copy expertise, Nina is a compassionate leader, and you can usually find her busy doing yet another favor for a friend or coworker.

Nathan Seidel ’22 will be sorely missed on the paper, especially for his profound knowledge of arcane sports terms and a seemingly endless love for the College’s teams, even the ones that seldom see victory. Nathan had a talent for coming up with the best sports headlines: “Tribe humps camels” will always be a personal favorite of mine. He is ruthlessly efficient, funny and delightful.

Judith Hahn ’22 stepped into her role as podcast editor, a notoriously tricky position, and produced some fantastic audio content during the pandemic. Given her penchant for good ideas and her hardworking attitude, I know that she will succeed wherever she ends up.

Alyssa Slovin ’22 has truly put in the work at this paper and on the magazine. She has a great eye for visuals and page design, a strong sense of ethics and a compelling talent for writing, which made her the best opinions editor (and magazine editor-in-chief) that anyone could ask for. I will miss her on-point outfits and discussions of squishmallows, as well as her effortlessly beautiful pages that she churned out like an absolute beast. 

Gavin Aquin Hernández ’22 was only on the magazine’s staff this past year, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the years of hard work he put into this school’s publications. He is ambitious and good at what he does and he will be missed, especially at the magazine, which he shaped as editor alongside Alyssa.

I also have to mention Emma Ford ’21 and Kim Lores ’21, both of whom graduated last semester. Emma is incredibly diligent and an all-around team player, from her roles as news editor, managing editor and then operations coordinator, she did it all with ease and grace. Kim and Emma were an unstoppable SA beat reporter team, who sacrificed many hours every week for their vitally important job. We’ve missed them dearly this semester.

And I’d like to extend a personal note of gratitude to Sean Willner ’19 and Maggie More ’20, former Flat Hat digital media editors, as well as Ethan Brown ’21, the 110th editor-in-chief of this paper. Sean was the first person who taught me how to edit videos, a skill that made me employable. Maggie believed in me more than I did myself. And Ethan guided me when I came into this role, letting me commiserate and celebrate with him in equal measure. Thank you all.

Institutional memory is short. Four years from now, nobody will remember the scandals that wracked our class. But The Flat Hat remembers. We are, above all, an archive of this university’s faults and a timeline of things (slowly) getting better. 

We are an invaluable resource, made by students, for students. We make mistakes. We have no advisor. We don’t get paid. It’s just us out here, doing our best. 

And somewhere in the eye of the never-ending storm that is college journalism is an Editor-in-Chief who read half a dozen books on leadership. And she’s ready to retire.

Stabilitas et Fides.


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