Conducting a readership survey is one of the first goals Eric Roper hopes to accomplish when he takes over as The Hatchet’s editor in chief in May.
Current metro news editor Roper, a junior, said he thinks the paper can improve with more feedback from its main audience.
“(We want to know) where we as an organization are going, and to make sure we are relevant (to readers),” Roper said.
Earlier this month the staff elected Roper, a New York City native, as The Hatchet’s next editor in chief, pending approval from newspaper’s Board of Directors. The promotion will fulfill a goal that Roper said he has had since his freshman year.
Jake Sherman, a senior and the paper’s current editor in chief, said Roper is a seasoned hard worker with a genuine commitment to and enthusiasm for The Hatchet.
“He’s a really good reporter with a real drive to break news,” Sherman said. “He’s a very good people person.”
A Hatchet reporter since his first semester at GW, Roper opted not to cover a beat – consistent coverage of a single news topic – and instead was a general assignment reporter, taking as many different kinds of article assignments as he could. He said he wanted to have a broad spectrum of journalism experience.
“I want to impart what I’ve learned over my years here,” Roper said. “I’ve been taught a lot about the process to put out the best product.”
From his collegiate journalism career, Roper got to know The Hatchet well enough to identify the keys to keeping it successful next year. Staff motivation, he said, is of paramount importance.
“I hope to keep our writers involved with the paper in as many ways as possible, especially in the office,” Roper said. “Keeping both the writing staff and editors energized will only benefit our final product.”
Roper said he hopes to strengthen The Hatchet’s foundation by exposing writers to a variety of news reporting experience. “I want to foster the intrinsic value of writing for the paper,” he said.
The ebullient, lanky and curly-haired Roper founded a radio station at the Taft School, his high school boarding school in Connecticut. Though he worked on the school paper too, radio was where he thought he belonged, he said. Upon entering college, he realized that print journalism was his true calling.
“My first story (at The Hatchet) got the front page,” Roper said. “I kept writing.”
In his current role as the paper’s metro news editor, Roper has developed a penchant for covering D.C. crime and lawsuits. As a writer, he enjoyed working on several in-depth enterprise pieces on a range of topics. One such enterprise project was a series of stories on the increased use of Facebook, a series that recently earned him a top-three finish in the in-depth reporting category of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence award.
Roper plans to live in D.C. this summer to work for The Hatchet and establish some of his major initiatives before the start of the academic year. He said he also plans to continue expanding and improving The Hatchet’s Web and multimedia content, efforts which Sherman focused heavily on this past year.
“Web production is quickly becoming more and more unique for us . we have to make sure to keep our energy there,” Roper said.
GW alumna Kaitlyn Jahrling, Roper’s former editor, said she is content to see Roper in such an important and prestigious position.
“He brings an incredible passion for news and journalism. He always had high energy for getting stories done right,” Jahrling said. “He has a good understanding of what the position involves, (and) there are many exciting ideas in his platform that I hope to see come to fruition.”