During my internship at Ipswich’s daily newspaper, the Queensland Times, the editor Stuart Sherwin wore his sunglasses in the office.
Was this a rock star turned news hound? Or an alcoholic red-eyed hack?
We entered his barely-used official office and with his glasses perched on his head, I learnt that he was just nursing a sore right eye.
Sherwin turns out to be a straight shooter and not one for flowery conversation like you would expect from a rock star or wino.
Our interview was short and sharp, similar to the daily news conferences he leads, where he doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
Sherwin emigrated from the UK six years ago after visiting his wife’s family in Brisbane and getting tired of the rain in the motherland.
Beginning his Australian career with News Queensland, he worked on the Courier-Mail and the Sunday Mail.
He was one of the online news editor for the revamped CM website, when Fairfax launched the Brisbane Times competition.
He made the move to the QT in 2009 and I questioned his motivation.
“I wanted to be my own boss…I always aspired to be an editor,” he said.
The Queensland Times has a rich history and is the state’s oldest surviving provincial newspaper with a Monday to Friday readership of 19,000.
Sherwin’s inspiration for the news began at home.
“I brought up in a house where we always had tons of newspapers,” he said.
His Dad was a humble plumber, who bought at least two national daily newspapers and the three paid-for weeklies of the local area, plus an evening newspaper.
“I always had a fascination with papers and the news.
“What I always been interested in what’s going on in the world,” he said.
Sherwin studied history at university and began his career at a weekly paper in the UK roughly 15 years ago, then progressed to Chief-of Staff at a evening newspaper.
He has a well-rounded skill set, also wearing the sub-editor and page designer hats.
“A lot of editors don’t have production as well as the news thing.”
This helps him give direction to his staff as he has been in their shoes, apart from the photographers.
He paused for a moment when I asked him about his vision for the QT.
“Good stories told well, and that’s basically it…that’s essentially what people want from a newspaper,” he said.
“You don’t want to be entertaining people to sleep,” he said which made me chuckle.
“Ipswich is a very good news patch. The best news patch in Queensland.”
The parent company APN has a group editorial director who also has a vision for the stable of papers, but Sherwin said he concurs with his ideas.
He believes the area has a bright future, with a motivated mayor, Paul Pisasale leading it.
His wisdom for green journalists is to go the extra mile.
A recent job opportunity attracted 100 applicants.
“Get as much work experience as you possibly can,” he said.
Write off your own back, do the unpaid stories, they will pay off in the end – this was displayed by the successful candidate.
Just doing a course and working in a coffee shop won’t cut it.
Sage advice indeed from the mock rock star editor.