The election period for APSE second vice president is open. The second vice president will assume office at the closing meeting of the summer conference in June (or, in the absence of a conference, at 11 a.m. on June 27).

 Each eligible news organization has one vote.  To vote, send your choice to billapse707@gmail.com. The deadline to vote is April 13.

Bios of the candidates – Jorge Rojas and Dan Spears – are below in alphabetical order.

JORGE ROJAS

Jorge Rojas

Current position: Managing editor/Florida, The Athletic

Background: I began my career in digital in 1985, believe it or not, and I’m at a digital company now. In between, I spent 33 years working at legacy news organizations and it’s there I fell in love with crafting a good story, shaping coverage and entertaining readers. I’m fortunate to say I’m still doing what I enjoy most. I have worn many hats and experienced many things in our profession, learning as a paste-up artist, typesetter, writer, copy editor, designer, assistant sports editor, deputy sports editor, executive sports editor and now managing editor. That includes losing my job (twice), so I’m definitely familiar with what many of our members are going through and the feelings of uncertainty.

My résumé:

— Bachelor’s in Journalism from the University of Florida, 1985

— One year as a wire editor/copy editor at Viewtron in Miami Beach, 1985-86 (before the company folded). It was a videotext service that claims to have been the precursor to the Internet, eBay and Amazon 

— Two years as a copy editor at Tribune Media Services in Orlando, 1986-88

— Four years as copy editor/preps editor/designer/copy chief at the Orlando Sentinel, 1988-92

— One year as an associate sports editor at The Sporting News in St. Louis, 1992-93

— Twenty-four years as assistant sports editor (five years), deputy/sports editor (five years), executive sports editor (14 years) at the Miami Herald, 1993-2017

— One and a half years as M.E. at The Athletic/Florida, 1998-present

My work at the Herald included coordinating and supervising coverage of many big events — Super Bowls, NBA Finals, World Series, college football championships, NASCAR championships and Olympics (I’ve worked seven Olympics and was McClatchy’s bureau chief in Rio de Janeiro) — and several high-profile news stories, including the 2016 death of José Fernandez, which won national awards and was nominated for a Pulitzer. Our section consistently won APSE awards along with state, regional and national awards. At The Athletic, I supervise coverage of nine pro sports teams in Florida plus the Miami Hurricanes.

APSE experience:  I am perhaps best known for being APSE’s diversity chairman for 10-plus years, but I’m also proud to have served in several other APSE roles over the years. My most significant accomplishments include helping Michael Anastasi launch and grow the APSE Diversity Fellowship and obtaining a $31,500 two-year grant from the Knight Foundation for the Fellowship. I’m also honored to co-fund the AWSM Celeste Williams Memorial Scholarship with former APSE president Jim Jenks.

I have been an APSE member since 2000, and I have attended all but two summer conferences and all but three winter judging meetings since that time, serving as a “catcher” for many of the APSE contests. I was on the Olympics committee for approximately eight years and attended three USOC credentialing committee meetings in Chicago. I have also been on the Futures committee for several years. I have attended the commissioners meetings in New York approximately 10 times. I have attended a handful of APSE region meetings (including a West regional in Los Angeles). I have been a panelist at several conferences, including twice at APSE (diversity, management doctor), once at a Southeast regional, once at an Orlando regional workshop, several times at AWSM, once at NAHJ and once at NLGJA. In my role as APSE diversity chairman (and Miami Herald sports editor), I have consistently been an APSE liaison at many of the national organizations’ summer conferences, including 10 NABJ, eight AWSM and five NAHJ conventions. I had a short stint as the Olympics committee chair before the end of my Herald tenure forced a change. I am on the Diversity Fellowship selection committee and have been a mentor and organizer at seven weekend training events for the new Fellows.

Objective: To serve APSE’s membership and help the organization thrive in a changing media environment. If elected, I would work closely with Lisa Wilson and Gary Potosky to:

1) Continue to recruit youth and diversity into our organization and to retain those members and their involvement. The sports journalism business is changing rapidly and APSE needs to place an emphasis on bringing value to our newest members and keeping them engaged. I remember when I was a youngster (at age 38?) entering APSE and how much this organization has played a part in my life. Our industry is getting a lot younger and it’s imperative that APSE develops and encourages its future leaders. I’d propose and advocate for mentoring/coaching sessions for our newest members, focused on management, budgeting, problem-solving, line-editing and planning. I would organize these sessions and call upon veteran APSE leaders to lend their wisdom.

2) Help establish a support system for our members who have been laid off or reassigned or just seeking career guidance. To say losing my position at the Herald hurt deeply after 24 years is an understatement.  To see some of our more-accomplished, veteran editors displaced is tough. To see young APSE members lose their jobs is even more upsetting.

3) Use my experience as an APSE leader to deal with credentialing and access issues in the post-COVID-19 world. As an organization, we have to be prepared to meet with pro leagues and college conferences to ensure the access we have fought for over decades is not diminished when we return from this international health crisis. I have the contacts (pro and college commissioners, media relations people, former APSE president Gerry Ahern) and context (experience dealing with said issues and commissioner meetings) to lead this effort.   

4) Help build a strong foundation in order to receive the financial and institutional support to achieve goals that will allow APSE to be its best. Those goals include advocating for sports journalists, growing membership through creative initiatives, promoting APSE and its best efforts and continuing to commit to diversity and inclusion.

5) Help the annual contest evolve. This doesn’t need to be a complete overhaul, but it’s clear that the format will gradually change (on-site judging, entry system, circulation divisions, digital/print categories, etc.). It appears this will be an every-year happening for a while — which I support.

6) Introduce new-and-improved communication among our members. We can learn from our APSE Young Writers, APSE Digital and APSE Diversity Facebook channels and become more streamlined in how we communicate — and how we meet. Successfully executed region meetings are a must. But with funds sure to be tighter — even before COVID-19 — our members should try to be more aggressive at trying to meet when it’s convenient. We shouldn’t have to wait until summer or winter to catch up and “talk shop” over a meal or beverage. Members, particularly from smaller shops, can meet at regional events that they would already be attending. We should establish more cost-effective group gatherings when and where it makes sense. I’ve been in APSE for a long time but with job transitions and new members coming in, it can be tough keeping up with and getting to know our colleagues. Let’s strengthen our professional relationships.

Quotable: “It is more important than ever that APSE continues to thrive and fight to keep its vital role in sports media. History has shown that when things get tough, sports journalists are vulnerable in terms of job security, work environment and proper access. The ‘Toy Department’ depends on it. Diversity depends on it. Our members depend on it. Reporters’ access depends on it. Our readers and subscribers depend on it.”

Bonus quote: “We must protect this house.”

DAN SPEARS

Dan Spears

Current position:  Assistant Managing Editor, Sports & Audience, Wilmington (NC) StarNews

Background: Sports copy desk, Anderson Independent-Mail (1995-98); HS sports writer, The Herald-Mail, Hagerstown, Md. (1998-2002); Assistant sports editor, The Augusta Chronicle (2002-06); Wilmington NC 2006-present

APSE experience:  Atlantic Coast vice chair and chair (2016-18), third vice president (2018-20); Judging member since 2014. Regular summer convention attendee since 2006.

Objective: As sports editors, we’re all hearing the word “audience” more and more — how are we reporting for our audience? How are we creating a loyal audience? What are we doing to bring people back to us day after day? At APSE, we must ask ourselves that question as well. So many of our members now pay dues out of their own pocket and, therefore, demand more for their money. How can we be more efficient, nimble and relevant on a daily basis for our “audience” of sports editors?

While corporate shifts have brought more of us under bigger umbrellas, growth opportunities specifically for sports editors remain few and far between. It’s created a gap that I believe APSE can — and must — fill. But first, there are questions to ask: Do we know our strengths as an organization? How can we expand our mentorship program for young editors? How are we helping older editors adjust to new responsibilities and technologies? Where must we put our energy for the greatest good to grow membership and revenue? What do we need to stop doing to get there?

I’m ready to get those answers for an organization we all have relied on to become better professionals, and have grown to love. Thanks for your consideration.

Quotable: “No, we can’t solve every problem. But what can we start fixing today?”

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