A first-generation college student, I graduated from Western Illinois University in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in broadcasting. During my four years at WIU, I was a student senator, a resident assistant and a radio station program director. Soon my focus turned to journalism and I quickly became news editor of the campus newspaper the Western Courier.
I took a post-college internship at the Peoria Journal Star where I worked with some of the best editors I've ever met.
My first full-time job was in municipal government reporting at The Register-Mail in Galesburg, Ill.
Ten months later I was offered a position as night police reporter at the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader. The Northeast Pennsylvania coal mining community remains the smallest newspaper market in the country with two competing daily papers. Working in a competitive environment helped foster the principles I retain to this day, that we should always strive to get it first and get it right.
By the end of my tenure at the Times Leader I was writing narrative features about the community's devastating heroin problems and covering a controversial congressional election involving a philandering congressman and his much younger Peruvian mistress.
After leaving Pennsylvania, I spent four years covering state and federal courts in Florida's Panhandle. There I covered some of the biggest stories of my career including the Affordable Care Act lawsuit, the BP oil spill, U.S. Supreme Court and federal appeals decisions, award-winning data projects and high-profile murders.
I left Florida to be closer to my family due to an unforeseen event. I ended up in St. Louis where I continued to freelance for print and online publications including the St. Louis Business Journal and AOL's Patch web sites.
I returned to my hometown to accept my current position as assignment editor at a television station. I took a lot of grief from my print colleagues about my decision to take this job. One thing I've noticed in my time here is that the lines between media is dying faster than I ever would have imagined.
I was brought here to improve the quality of web journalism, to teach young reporters how to use public records to enhance their stories and to manage our social media through Google Analytics and other tools. I've helped change the newsroom culture. Now reporters think of how to use social media, our mobile application and plain-old written words to tell their stories in a more thorough and unique way.
In two years we've managed to quadruple our web audience. We've engaged this community in a way our competitors haven't. Through this we've developed a reputation as an investigative newsroom that can be counted on to dig deeper. This is a quality not found in any other publication or television affiliate in this market. The only problem this creates is that my reporters are sought after. Once they're great, they leave. It gives me pride to know that they're taking the qualities they've learned here to their new professional homes.
While I moved back here for purely personal reasons, it's good to know that I've found a place where I can still continue to push myself professionally.
In my spare time, I'm a stand-up comic, avid reader, music nerd, essay writer and I cook better than most people. I also have a dog named Jay Prescott Sherman (he prefers to be called Mr. Sherman).