By Kelley D. Evans

The Associated Press Sports Editors summer conference kicked off on Sunday, August 15, with sessions starting on Monday. For the first time in two years, content curators across the country gathered to engage in some informative and encouraging sessions. 

One general session at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino was “Reinvention in a year like no other,” moderated by Jorge Rojas, a deputy managing editor for The Athletic’s college football vertical.

Rojas, APSE’s incoming first vice president, and a team of panelists explored what reinvention looks like today and what it might look like in the future. The interruption of a national pandemic plagued newsrooms across the country. The outcome resulted in organizations making strategic changes, imploring work-life balance adjustments across all platforms and changing how content is shared.

What’s evident is that the field of journalism changed forever. But that does not mean change should impact your growth, your value as an editor, reporter or content creator, or your career path.

The panelists — Seattle Times sports editor Paul Barrett, Daily Memphian sports editor Elaine Sung, and Lee Sports Wisconsin planning editor Jake Adams shared their experiences in a sensitive and inclusive manner on topics ranging from daily workflow, working remotely, Zoom fatigue, everyday use of other non-traditional communication mediums, traveling for work, mental health, changing roles/employers, job security and more.

Takeaways from the session included:

  • Boosting job morale can help employees reinvent and reimagine their lives during challenging times if lines of communication remain open.
  • Many have Zoom fatigue and find it difficult due to the lack of in-person interaction. One way to cope is to speak with your staffers one day a week.
  • Promote developing a new routine — whether that includes scheduling meetings, yoga or meditation, getting outside daily — and establishing a new work-life balance.
  • Figure out a self-reward system for your hard work. Managers also should develop a solid reward system for the hard work of staffers.
  • Consider the mental health of those in your newsroom from the impact of Covid-19.
  • Recognize that reporters often experience sadness from the prospect being downsized or as it happens across newsrooms. Offer empathy and reassurance when possible.
  • Explore other possibilities of reinventing yourself in the face of a job elimination, such as staying active by starting your newsletter, blog or content-generating business.
  • Always consider strategies for growth.
  • Work to your strengths.
  • Set attainable goals.
  • Don’t be afraid of the person you’ve become.
  • Reach out for help.
  • Take advantage of free resources.
  • Attend conferences in your area.

Parts of the session covered developing new approaches to digital and print content. Keeping a website or section fresh amid the pandemic has included showcasing more human interest pieces, top 10 rankings, historical pieces, along with other talk-story elements. In addition, newsrooms have devised long- and short-term practices that help navigate the new normal. The shifting of some editors, reporters and resources to work in News during the pandemic was commonplace.

Barrett discussed his newsroom’s guide that included tips on arranging a home office, communicating at a distance, scheduling breaks and vacations, and protecting physical and mental health. It included a space for peer-to-peer advice, which co-workers used to stay connected and discuss time management, wellness and support for others.  

Before closing, Rojas opened questions to the audience. Many shared experiences about layoffs, finding new positions, learning new skills, leveraging their expertise by starting new content mediums such as podcasts, newsletters and blogs, and networking. Many attendees used the time to express their concerns about mental health, job worth, and identifying with other writers and editors.

The session addressed how newsrooms are doing now, what sports and news organizations have learned, what’s sustainable, what didn’t work and what can happen next.

Photo of Las Vegas Review-Journal sports editors Bill Bradley, front left, and Bill Eichenberger — both no strangers to reinvention: Chip Murdock / For APSE

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