Friday, April 4, 2008
What's the deal with the arrests at HellWell? Don't ask the Hatchet.
While David and Basil already covered the basics of the student who got arrested for sneaking into HellWell, I had a bigger problem with the story: namely, it wasn't big enough.
The crime log on the opposite page took up more space, for crying out loud. And really, the story reads like an extended crime log piece: girl tries to get in, can't, gets arrested. There's no discussion of whether this has happened before -- is HellWell being overrun by people sneaking in? What happens if I leave my Gworld in the lockers downstairs, but go outside to take a phone call and then try to get back inside? Is there a new crackdown on security taking place? Have students complained of a lack of rule enforcement? (Since spring break, I've noticed staff being especially vigilant about the "show your Gworld to staff" rule, which has been in place but was never really enforced.) I have no idea if this is just an isolated incident of a girl breaking the rules, or a new crackdown, or what. And I certainly couldn't find anything out by reading the Hatchet.
If the story was only highlighted because someone decided it was a slow news week (which, guys? Since you had an April Fool's issue on Monday, you have to cover a week's worth of news; this is the best you could do?), then what is it doing on page 3? And why is page 3 almost completely covered in ads? Was there really no other news for seven days? I mean, if nothing else, I'm sure someone spoke at the SMPA and there was probably free food involved.
In fact, in this week's paper, the three of the five inside news pages are ENTIRELY dominated by ads. That's unacceptable. Although ads pay for the Hatchet to be printed, they can't be the most content you see for the first half of the paper. The pages with the most news -- 9 and 10 -- are content-heavy, while pages three and five barely have a quarter-page of news. How the hell is that engaging to a reader? The appalling lack of news judgment here makes me think the Hatchet cares more about making its advertisers happy than it does telling its readers what's going on in their world.
When I picked up the paper on Thursday, I thought "oh, this is a pretty heavy paper. I bet there's a lot of interesting stuff going on." Now, my mom was a journalist and I will read anything that's put in front of me, but I don't normally read a paper cover-to-cover. So when I saw that the first two inside pages of the Hatchet were over half ads, I skipped to the crossword. I didn't even realize there were more news pages until I went looking through the paper just now. When a newspaper's layout is bad enough that I don't want to go looking for stories, something has gone terribly wrong. Congratulations, Hatchet: you've defeated me. I can no longer figure out what the hell you guys are trying to do, but it's certainly not trying to bring news to campus.
(If I sound a little righteous here, it's because I really, really love good journalism. And this isn't it.)