The Georgetown Heckler, Georgetown’s online humor magazine of record since 2003, has undergone a revival under new management this year.
“I put it on my resume that I ‘resuscitated a defunct news magazine’,” newly appointed Editor-in-Chief Henry Thaler (COL ’14) said.
After taking over for former Editor-in-Chief Dan Thoennessen (COL ’12), Thaler transformed the Heckler from a seldom-updated site to one that regularly posts satirical Georgetown-related news articles with headlines ranging from “Wi-Fi Cuts Out in ICC, Lord of the Flies Reenacted” to “Gluten-Free Freezer Actually Portal to Narnia.”
The Heckler has long considered itself the university’s gadfly.
“The definition of satire is to take a viewpoint and adopt it to specifically point out how untenable it is,” writer Joe Laposata (COL ’16) said.
According to former Editor-in-Chief Jack Stuef (COL ’10), past Heckler antics have gotten the magazine in trouble with the university.
“We made a fake Twitter account for [University President] John J. DeGioia, but the university had Twitter shut it down,” he said.
University administrators have also complained about using Georgetown’s name in the Heckler articles, Stuef said.
“You could always get the sense that the university didn’t like the Heckler and tried to marginalize it whenever they could,” he said. “The print issues always seemed to disappear.”
Now, with a staff of two consistent writers, Sam Kane (SFS ’14) and Laposata, Thaler is trying to rejuvenate the magazine’s online presence.
“We’ve changed it from being an online magazine where you put up an ‘issue’ every couple of months to updating it regularly as articles come up,” Thaler said.
Though reenergized, the magazine’s organization is mostly informal.
“It’s not a [SAC-approved] club. There’s no budget. I haven’t held a meeting, and I’ve met a couple of the writers but not all of them,” Thaler said. “I’m an editor, but it’s minimal responsibility.”
Still, Thaler, Laposata and Kane are discussing ways to increase the Heckler’s writing staff and expand its readership.
“We are going to think about expansion … when my midterms are over,” he said.
Laposata has taken it upon himself to generate weekly article ideas but ultimately creates his own work schedule. Each Monday, he composes a list of 10 articles he aims to write that week. All articles are edited by Thaler.
Because some topics can be considered offensive, Thaler, Laposata and Kane have adopted aliases to preserve their identities.
“Sometimes you’re making fun of a specific club, and if it was actually going to be written under my name I would be a little concerned … so writing under a pseudonym is not really a problem,” Kane said.
Laposata, who has posted 17 articles since the start of the semester, said he is not afraid of negative responses to his writing.
“I have not gotten to that [controversy] yet. It may come up, but I’m going to try to not be afraid about that,” he said. “I’m going to try to post what I can post with little fear of recrimination simply because this is free speech, and it is comedy.”