Annandale's Adopted Daughter
Slightly Missing, but Not Lost
Sherell Williams arrived in Annandale during the summer of 2010, as an enthusiastic journalist and editor of the newly created Annandale Patch.com. Within that first year, Sherell had become a valued narrator of Life in Annandale. For most of the 20th century, Annandale had enjoyed a local town newspaper reporting on those events and issues of particular concern to her residents, while fostering a greater sense of community through the power of the written and reflected word. Sherell admirably filled that void with her exceptional and widespread coverage of Annandale.
Sherell promoted Annandale businesses and energized our community with advanced coverage of events such as the Annual Parade and Hospital Bed Race. She helped determine where to find the best Korean BBQ; where to view local artwork; she educated us on new laws & land use issues; she highlighted local sports teams; and, she assured us that Annandale was operating as usual. In 2011, the Chamber presented Sherell Williams of the Annandale Patch with the 2011 Business of the Year Award. Every hope was expressed that the Annandale Patch would continue in their effort to help build the Annandale Marketplace and the Annandale Community for decades to come.
Educated at George Mason University, Sherell graduated in 2010 with a Degree in Communications after having served as a regular contributing reporter for the school newspaper. Thoroughly dedicated to her journalistic principles and desire to portray the community fairly, she often found that, "As many events, meetings, and issues as we covered, a part of me always wanted to do more. There was so much, and I was always worried about leaving something out when prioritizing stories."
Her accurate accounting of the community (constant fact checking, double sourcing, and truthful quoting) drew an ever increasing base of readership. There was never a hidden agenda with Sherell, or reason to distrust her. She never published denigrating stories on Annandale for the purpose of embarrassing local leaders, or wrote articles to malign individuals using gossip and unsubstantiated rumor as the source. She put together an honorable body of work, never a tabloid. Always approachable and curious, she quickly learned about Annandale.
"I knew very little about Annandale when I first started. I wouldn't consider myself an expert compared to people who have lived here their whole lives, but I took very seriously the task of making sure the site accurately reflected as many aspects of the community as possible. I wanted to give others a complete picture of what Annandale was about, but more importantly, I wanted to give the people who lived here a true resource to find out what was going in their neighborhoods. That was the whole goal of Patch and I think we achieved that."
Clearly, community support for her reporting skill was warmly reflected in the reception she received.
"I'm really proud of what we accomplished under the original mission of Annandale Patch. The reception from the community from the day we launched up until my last day exceeded my own personal expectations. I couldn't have asked for a better audience. It would've been a completely different site if not for the story suggestions, feedback, and overall support from the residents, schools, police officers... just everyone."
Unfortunately, Patch dismissed hundreds of their staff in 2014, as part of a cost cutting measure, while combining editions. The current version no longer reflects life and events in Annandale. Instead, it has turned into general regional coverage, and not particularly comprehensive. Patch’s loss was ABC Channel 7 & News Channel 8’s gain. Sherell currently serves on a team of five web editors who post local news coverage from approximately fifteen reporters, as well as AP reports. She routinely contributes to the station social media sites, particularly popular with the millennium generation. Sherell especially enjoys being back in the news room, where the basic principles of journalism are rigidly observed, without which, “You end up with a blog.” Williams commented.
"I miss Annandale. I still shop and do many errands here since I don't live very far, and I love and still want to support the community, but I miss being so involved. I miss the people I used to meet at meetings and events. I hope everyone who followed Annandale Patch thinks of it as fondly as I do. I genuinely fell in love with the community through covering it, and it was heartbreaking to leave. "
We can only dream that a journalist of her caliber will someday take an equal interest in Annandale, and in the meantime, wish her a rewarding and success career.