Want a Traffic Spike for Your Student Outlet? Write About Georgetown’s Secret Society

In late February, The Hoya at Georgetown University experienced a roughly 1,200 percent spike in website page views after revelations surfaced that the leading candidate for student government president at the Washington D.C. Catholic school was affiliated with a controversial secret society (hat tip to Romenesko and WP).

In a Hoya story that followed, the student confirmed his membership in the Second Society of Stewards (which I also see referenced as the Second Stewards Society), something he did not previously mention during his campaign.


The best quote from the candidate, who was apparently favored to be SG president prior to all this secret business: “It’s a private association of mine, just like any of the other candidates might have other private associations.  Because it’s something that I keep private, I don’t think that I have to explain every single thing I’ve been a part of in my history.”  Soon after, he lost the election.


What is the society, and why does it matter?  The Washington Post: “The all-male group, which doesn’t identify its members or detail its activities, has long been a source of rumor and controversy on the 104-acre campus, where some students harbor suspicions that group members are pushing a right-wing political agenda– charges the Stewards call absurd. . . . [T]he society– which is not an officially sanctioned student group and receives no university funds– zealously keeps secret its rituals, meeting places, constitution, official history, organizational structure, members’ names and finances. . . . A 2000 copy of its bylaws, obtained by the Post, reveals some cryptic officer titles: the Quaestor of the Treasury; the Keeper; the Dean of All the Years; the Master of the Ritual; and two Guardian Stewards– one of whom, the documents stipulate, ‘shall be a member of the Society of Jesus or [a] Roman Catholic priest.’”

The Hoya’s reporting on the SG presidential candidate’s society membership was spurred by postings on a blog called FreeGeorgetown.  Conjuring up the spirit of journalism’s most famous source, the nickname of the anonymous blogger behind FreeGeorgetown: “Steward Throat.”


Normal daily page views for the Hoya, according to the Post: 2,500.  The day “Steward Throat” went public with his private info about the SG candidate: 32,000.  The paper’s subsequent story, posted Feb. 20th, remains the most popular piece on the site roughly a month later.

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