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The Observer goes to a bar

| Wednesday, February 5, 2020

It’s 11:30 on a Friday night. A group of college students arrive in an Uber motorcade at a South Bend bar. But these are not just any college students. These are the finest student journalists in all of northern Indiana. That’s right, this is The Observer. The journalistic dream team is ready to pour one out.

The Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s News Departments go into the bar first. As the group patiently waits their turn to pay cover, one writer towards the back taps another on the shoulder and starts to whisper: “Hey, you see that cop checking IDs? Wonder what the deal is there. We should check it out, could’ve been something serious … Excuse me, sir? Can we ask you a few questions?”

Sadly, the (confused) cop declines. Once inside, another News writer goes to the bar. She asks for a drink. The bartender disappears into thin air. Turns out he was a ghost. “Aw, man!” she says. “Every time!”

Upon entering, one group of writers immediately peels off from the rest. Clad in hipster glasses and WVFI t-shirts, this group is the Scene Department. Each person wears a set of headphones so they can listen to their own music. About an hour in, one writer is heard yelling at another “It’s art, I tell you! It’s art!” No one hears from Scene for the rest of the night.

A small, hardy band makes its way across the floor. This is the Sports Department, and they’re the unsung heroes, the MVPs. They’ve been slaving away in The Observer office non-stop since the school year started. They haven’t seen the outside world since August. The light and noise took some getting used to. But they deserve this night out more than anyone. One of them cradles a football.

Just off the dance floor, we observe a squad featuring a sophomore theology major, a senior Peace Studies major so woke she’s never slept, a junior Finance bro wearing a “Reagan-Bush ‘84” tank top and a Catholic mother of four sons. Rounding out the group is a very important looking man reading The Observer’s News section and stewing. Wait a minute! This isn’t a squad, it’s The Observer Viewpoint section!

The conversation gets heated, quick. Over the din of the music you can hear the words “racist,” “socialist” and “abortion” all being bandied about repeatedly. Important man looks up from his phone, shakes his head and growls, “Those meddling kids … how dare they report inconvenient truths!” Meanwhile, the Catholic mother of four sons stands with her head trained downwards. She’s looking at all the girls’ insufficiently covered legs. “Get away from me, Satan!” she screams in horror to no one in particular. Somehow, 200,000 people hear her.

The Social Media department flutters about, phones in the air. They’re live streaming the night in an attempt to improve the paper’s reach. Following closely behind them is a group of gray-haired alumni. These are the Facebook commenters. They have no connection to The Observer — no one really knows why they’re at the bar with a bunch of college students, actually — but, good lord, all of them are in an enraged huff. Trying to relive the glory days? Trying to stamp out the secular heresies taking over the modern world? Who’s to say. Give them credit for knowing how to use Facebook, given their age.

In the middle of the chaos, the Editor-in-Chief’s phone buzzes. She sighs. Her shoulders drop. She spots the Notre Dame News Editor. “Look at this!” she yells as she shows him her phone.

The Notre Dame News Editor has already had a rough night. He’s already been accosted by a recently-married groom and a flurry of students angry their “truly unique” Notre Dame story hasn’t been featured in the pages of The Observer.

He takes the phone. He squints. He frowns. He looks to the sky. “Now?! It’s 12:06 a.m. on a Saturday!” he yells to the ceiling, or maybe to God.

For the EIC just received an email which means the party must end. The subject line? “A message from University President … ” Buried deep in the last paragraph lies a description of a new rule that all students have to live on campus for at least 14 semesters. Time for our squad to return to the South Dining Hall basement. Bottoms up.

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About Tom Naatz

Tom is a senior at University of Notre Dame. He is majoring in Political Science and Spanish and is originally from Rockville, Maryland. Formerly The Observer's Notre Dame News Editor, he's now a proud columnist for the paper.

Contact Tom