Former editors of The George-Anne continue to venture in different professional ways
By McClain Baxley
On the second floor of the Williams Center, at the end of a hallway that was built forty years ago, a light flickers. There’s music blaring, a scent of expired pizza hits you when you walk in the building and a revolving door of college students go in and out of the last room on the left. It’s Wednesday night, layout night for Georgia Southern’s student newspaper — The George-Anne.
This experience of laying out the print paper is one that hundreds of student editors, reporters and designers have been through since the paper was founded in 1926.
“(Layout) definitely shows you the work that you don’t see when it comes to newspapers,” said Matthew Enfinger, Editor-In-Chief for the 2018-19 school year. “The environment of a layout can be tense at times. There’s changes that might need to be made at the 11th hour or maybe a photo didn’t come in or a story that was supposed to be there isn’t there.”
Enfinger’s description of the layout and the paper matched up with his predecessors (Ian Leonard, Jozsef Papp) and his replacement (Blakeley Bartee). The former editors-in-chief of The George-Anne came to GS with different ambitions and interests and are doing various roles in different industries in postgrad.
But regardless of what they’re doing now, they’re confident that student media set them up for their paths to success.
Leonard, EIC in 2016-17, was a writing major and joined student media looking for an opportunity to practice writing.
“I wasn’t in the same classes as everyone else, so especially early on, people were learning at a faster pace than I was,” Leonard said.
Like Leonard, Bartee, EIC for the spring semester of 2020, was a writing and linguistics major. It wasn’t until she had already completed her writing major that she decided to undertake a second major — multimedia journalism.
Along with Leonard and Papp, Bartee embarked on a story that all three said was incredibly difficult, but really helped them as reporters and workers. She said that the story where they investigated sexual harassment in GS’ foreign language department helped keep her news-searching abilities in tact.
“We got an anonymous tip from a faculty member, and we had to go through a lot of different documents,” Bartee said. “I had to submit the FOIA request and I think that was my first ever aware request I ever submitted. I would say that that was the most challenging it took us months to do. Again I was not the main writer, but it was still a huge learning experience.”
Bartee and Enfinger are once again coworkers, working at the Aiken Standard in South Carolina. Papp works as a crime reporter at the Augusta Chronicle. Leonard is in New York, working as a marketing assistant for HarperCollins Publishers.
All four attribute their careers, at least in part, to the work they did at The George-Anne. Papp said he wouldn’t have done anything differently during his college career.
“Right now, I’m right where I’m comfortable being,” Papp said. “I’m being challenged at this job.”