Sports editor Jake Sherman elected Hatchet’s editor in chief

Junior Jake Sherman said he wants to increase the frequency of The Hatchet by posting stories daily online as next year’s editor in chief.

Hatchet staff members unanimously elected Sherman, sports editor for the past year and a half, for the newspaper’s highest position earlier this month. Pending approval from The Hatchet’s Board of Directors, Sherman will replace Caitlin Carroll in May.

“He has a keen eye for some of the big-picture things, which is good for the editor in chief,” Carroll, a senior said. “He’s not just a sports guy.”

Sherman, a journalism major who ran for editor unopposed, said he wants to improve The Hatchet’s Web site not only by posting more frequently, but also by adding more blogs and streaming video. He said as journalism as a whole moves online, The Hatchet needs to keep up with the trend by upping its multimedia components.

“It will definitely benefit our readership if people can wake up in the morning and see (Web) content refreshed more than twice a week,” he said.

Sherman, 21, started writing for the sports section as a freshman in September 2004, and was promoted to the position of contributing sports editor that spring. He was the paper’s sports editor the next semester, as well as the men’s basketball beat writer. Last year he helped lead the production of The Hatchet’s basketball magazine, which won a regional “Best Student Magazine” award by the Society of Professional Journalists two weeks ago.

Traveling around the country to cover games, Sherman has had a unique and intense dedication to The Hatchet.

The Connecticut native has reported from 11 states and three time zones for The Hatchet. He won an award from the SPJ for online sports reporting for his work at the 2005 NBA draft in New York and the draft camp in Chicago.

He is also a member of the Editorial Board, which is comprised of editors outside the news section who develop the newspaper’s positions for staff editorials. Not being afraid to share – and, at times, yell – his opinions around the office, Sherman adeptly discussed campus issues during the board meetings.

Will Dempster, a former senior editor and opinions editor, said energy and motivation are standout characteristics of the incoming leader.

“Jake was a precocious kid from the moment he entered The Hatchet,” Dempster wrote in an e-mail from Israel, where he is attending graduate school. “Even from when he first came in the office, he seemed to know that he’d be running the place in a few years.”

Dempster said Sherman’s “prolific” networking abilities will help him next year as editor in chief. He recalled the NCAA tournament last year where the two were able to schmooze with big-name journalists.

“While the other college journalists were twiddling their thumbs, Jake and I were hanging out with people like ESPN analyst Andy Katz and Washington Post columnist Mike Wise because Jake had gone out and made friends with them,” Dempster said. “I’m sure he’ll bring the same kind of approach to being editor in a year when he will have to forge a relationship with a new university president.”

Sherman said building a strong connection with University President-elect Steven Knapp is a high priority, but he also wants to reach out to the larger GW community during his tenure. He said he wants to increase the newspaper’s transparency by hosting open houses and getting community feedback on the newspaper through readership surveys.

“I think there is distrust between The Hatchet and the student body, and one of my goals is to rebuild that trust. We want to show that we are part of the community and that we do care,” he said.

The incoming editor in chief also has much internal work ahead of him in writer and editor development. Many of The Hatchet’s editors will graduate this year, leaving spots open for top positions in several sections of the newspaper.

Mike Shanahan, one of Sherman’s past journalism professors and a member of The Hatchet’s Board of Directors, has confidence in his student but said the job won’t be easy.

“I think he’s going to have some challenges because The Hatchet has very few experienced seniors next year,” Shanahan said. “He’s going to have to be a real leader and developer of talent.”

Lacking writing and editing experience at The Hatchet outside of sports will not make his job difficult, Sherman said.

He served as a metro news reporter in summer 2006 for The Journal News of White Plains, N.Y., which featured 11 front-page articles by the then-20-year-old. One large story he covered was of a bus monitor who allegedly beat three developmentally disabled adults with a belt.

Much of Sherman’s writing skills were acquired last year when editor in chief Michael Barnett worked through and edited the sports editor’s stories with him. Barnett, who – like Sherman – is known for his at-times brash outspokenness, said his prot?g? has a lot of passion for his work.

“I think the things that stood out most were his enthusiasm and dedication. These are the kinds of things that are great to have as an editor because they’re infectious,” he said.

Barnett, who is a newspaper reporter on the Texas-Mexico border, added: “I think he’s the latest in a long run of people who have given all they can to The Hatchet.”

-David Ceasar contributed to this report.

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