Jeffrey Gerritt, recipient of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing, has been appointed editor of the Sharon (Pennsylvania) Herald and New Castle News, effective July 13.
The appointment was announced by Sharon Sorg, publisher of the newspapers.
Gerritt has been the editor of the Palestine (Texas) Herald-Press, a sister CNHI newspaper, for the last three years.
His Pulitzer editorials exposed how pre-trial inmates died horrific deaths in county jails due to insufficient medical care and indifference by local authorities, some of whom tried to cover up the problem.
The editorials accompanied a series of investigative stories that detailed shameful conditions that led to deaths at the county jail in Palestine and other Texas county jails. The project was labeled, “Death Without Conviction.”
Sorg said she is “thrilled and very excited” with Gerritt’s appointment as the papers’ top news executive.
“Jeff has the experience, the talent, the ingenuity and the resourcefulness to take these papers to a new level of journalism to serve the public interest,” said Sorg. “Working alongside a Pulitzer Prize winner is an opportunity I never could have imagined during my over 33 years in the newspaper business.”
Gerritt said he thoroughly enjoyed his experience in East Texas and now looks forward to working in Northwest Pennsylvania.
“I’m ready for a new challenge,” he said. “There’s enormous potential in Sharon and New Castle for extraordinary journalism that can make a difference in the lives of the people we cover and serve.”
Gerritt added: “It’s already happening there. But we’re going to step it up a notch with enterprise and investigative reporting; more aggressive, empathetic and penetrating day-to-day coverage of the communities.”
Bill Ketter, CNHI’s senior vice president of news, said he urged Gerritt to become the editor of the Sharon Herald and New Castle News because of the newsy nature of the region and his ability to generate strong local news coverage that contributes to public understanding of the value of journalism to democracy.
“Journalism is a business of gathering and sorting ideas and facts, seeing issues that need attention, and making decisions based on how things work and how they should work,” said Ketter. “Jeff Gerritt knows how to do that in a thorough and thoughtful way. His problem-solving methods and fact-finding skills are special.”
Receiving the Pulitzer, considered journalism’s top prize, represented a distinguished achievement for Gerritt. But it is not the only national acclaim he’s received. He has won 60 national and state journalism awards throughout his career. They include numerous writing awards from various news organizations, including the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association (which merged last fall with Inland Press Association to become America's Newspapers), Society of Professional Journalists, the Scripps Howard Foundation, the National Headliner Awards, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Associated Press Managing Editors, the Freedom Foundation and the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights.
A native of Wisconsin, Gerritt started his journalism career at a small weekly newspaper near Milwaukee. Six months later he moved to the daily Oshkosh Northwestern in Wisconsin prior to 17 years at the metro Detroit Free Press as a reporter, columnist and editorial writer. He spent four years as the deputy editorial page editor at the Toledo Blade before becoming editor of the Palestine Herald-Press in 2017.
Gerritt holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and music from the University of Wisconsin, and a master’s degree in journalism from Marquette University in Milwaukee. He is also a former professional drummer, construction and factory worker, security guard, house painter and machine operator.
He said he expects to “feel right at home in the resilient, working-class culture of the Sharon-New Castle region.”