By Jake Adams
Sports Editor, Cumberlink Sports (Carlisle, Pa.)
Jorge Rojas enjoys good Cuban food and a good cup of Cuban coffee.
He’s the son of Cuban immigrants — his parents arrived in Miami’s Freedom Tower in 1959 with $100 sowed in his mother’s belt, he said.
He grew up in a southwest Miami neighborhood that was “50-50 Hispanic/Anglo.” His dad fought in the Bay of Pigs as a pilot. The family moved to Wichita, Kan., to San Antonio, to Fort Benning (Georgia). He came back to Miami.
Rojas’s heritage has shaped him in various ways. And he’s taken on diversity leadership roles in APSE for years. On Tuesday, APSE president Todd Adams announced that Rojas, managing editor at The Athletic Florida, was elected APSE Second Vice President, beginning in June. Rojas defeated Dan Spears of the Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News in the election.
Rojas will serve a year in that role, ascend to First Vice President in June 2021, and President in June 2022.
“I think that I’m definitely fun-loving, but I’m also hard-working and also responsible and always have been. I also enjoy working with folks, collaborating with folks,” Rojas said Tuesday afternoon. “My plan would be to work with the good people around me and come up with creative ways to advance the organization.”
His election comes as the business — and the world — continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic that has upended nearly every facet of life.
“It’s as strange as anything that I can remember,” said Rojas, whose wife works in the cruise industry.
Rojas has served just about every role imaginable as a journalist and as an APSE member of more than 20 years.
A University of Florida graduate, he was hired out of college in 1985 by Viewtron. He’s bounced around in different roles at Tribune Media Services and the Orlando Sentinel, then worked as an associated sports editor at The Sporting News. He spent the most time at the Miami Herald (1993-2017) in various sports editor roles before being laid off, before taking his current position at The Athletic.
“Working on good stories from start to finish is always something that’s very exciting in our business,” Rojas said when asked what keeps him motivated after 35 years in the business. “Certainly shaping coverage of different elements in sports is something that I didn’t see as clearly coming out of college, but it took hold fairly early on. I love the friendships and relationships, and it’s a fun business.”
With APSE, he was the diversity chairman for more than a decade. Along with Michael Anastasi, he helped launch the APSE Diversity Fellowship and secure a two-year, $31,500 grant from the Knight Foundation. He’s attended nearly every winter judging convention and summer national convention since he joined.
“I’m most proud of working with Mike Anastasi and cofounding the fellowship program — what was it, eight years ago? — and how well it has done,” Rojas said. “But I’m also proud of the relationships I have with the fellows.”
Rojas will stay focused on diversity and on helping along the next generation of APSE in whatever ways he can, even if it’s something simple like buying a young editor a drink during one of the conventions and getting to know them a little better.
He said his goal as Second VP is to help incoming President Lisa Wilson (The Athletic) and incoming First Vice President Gary Potosky (The Philadelphia Inquirer) ensure APSE continues to thrive and serve its members as best as possible. That could be uniquely challenging as the industry is grappling with furloughs, lost jobs and pay cuts during an economic shutdown caused by COVID-19.
“I think it’ll be a tough job for Lisa Wilson and Gary Potosky, and God willing, myself in three years,” Rojas said. “But our organization has always been very strong and very tight. And it’s not so huge that it can go tumbling down easily. So I think we can withstand some of the factors around us. It definitely a big concern is the job losses with members of our organization, and we need to rally around our folks and find ways to promote them and help their careers. But APSE is a tight-knit group, and I’m confident it’ll find a way through.”