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Brooke Hauser named editor of the Gazette



Staff Writer
Friday, August 03, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — When people drop by the Daily Hampshire Gazette newsroom for the first time, Brooke Hauser makes it a point to bring these visitors into the room that houses the large printing press.

It is important, Hauser says, for readers to understand how the daily newspaper is printed and to remind them what the printing press means for American society.

“It’s the greatest symbol of freedom of the press and democracy,” Hauser said.

Beginning Monday, Hauser becomes the Gazette’s editor in chief, taking over for Debra Scherban, who has held that position on an interim basis since February.

“I see part of my role as engaging with the community, not just in print, but in person, to make sure people know what we have here is worth protecting and preserving,” Hauser said.

Hauser, 39, said she will emphasize that newspapers remain critical to the communities they serve and that subscriptions are a form of activism that preserves meaningful checks and balances on institutions.

“In addition to loyal, longtime readers, I want more people my age and younger to engage with the newspaper,” Hauser said.

The arts and culture and Hampshire Life editor since May 2017, Hauser is appreciative of taking on the role at one of the nation’s oldest and longest running daily newspapers, which dates to 1786. “That history is just special,” Hauser said. 

Michael Rifanburg, publisher of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, the Greenfield Recorder and the Athol Daily News, praises Hauser’s abilities.

“Brooke brings 22 years of experience as a writer, editor, educator and author to her new position,” Rifanburg said. “Her enthusiasm, tremendous energy and fresh ideas will be an asset to the Daily Hampshire Gazette and the community."

Scherban was the first woman to hold the title of Gazette editor on an interim basis, while Hauser will be the first to hold the title on a permanent basis.

Scherban has worked at the paper for 42 years in a variety of reporting and editing positions, including longtime editor of Hampshire Life magazine, managing editor for features, editor of the Amherst Bulletin and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. She will be retiring Oct. 1.

“Brooke brings excellent ideas and strong skills to the job that will serve the Gazette well,” Scherban said. “I wish her great success at the helm.”

Hauser said Scherban has been a valuable editor with a love for news.

“She’s been incredibly dedicated to the Gazette and the noble pursuit of community journalism,” she said.

Born and raised in Miami, Hauser may be best known for her magazine writing and as the author of two award-winning books, “The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens” and  “Enter Helen: The Invention of Helen Gurley Brown and the Rise of the Modern Single Woman.”

She began writing for the Neighbors section of the Miami Herald newspaper as part of a high school internship, before studying at Kenyon College in Ohio.

“I always wanted to be a writer as far as I can remember, specifically a journalist,” Hauser said.

Hauser then became a freelance writer for the city section of The New York Times, where she was able to do long-form narrative journalism, including pieces on the female corrections officers working at Rikers Island and girls caught up in the juvenile justice system.

Hauser spent several years at Premiere magazine, interviewing numerous filmmakers, and then became a contributing editor at Allure, where she wrote about women in entertainment, interviewing celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson and Beyoncé. 

Hauser sees internships as a vital component of the newspaper, benefiting students who can learn more about the community by interviewing people and getting different perspectives. She aims to strengthen the existing internship program, especially for students from the Five Colleges.

“It’s an important time for students to read the news and be engaging with the newspaper,” Hauser said.

Hauser moved to Northampton in early 2011 and soon began researching the life and career of the late Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, whose papers are housed at Smith College, and she has been a visiting lecturer at Smith, teaching nonfiction writing.

Since she assumed editing duties at the Gazette, Hauser has brought back the Hampshire Life cover feature story, commissioned new columnists and added other features.

Hauser said she looks forward to working with editors, reporters, photographers, designers, columnists and readers of the Gazette.

“I love the feeling of making something, and a newspaper is something you make with other people,” Hauser said.

Hauser is married to Addison MacDonald, theater manager at the Academy of Music, and they have two children.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.