By Jorge Rojas
As we approach the holidays and 2023, I wanted to highlight some of the APSE initiatives that are in progress or have been completed.
The officers have been hard at work on several fronts these first few months, and little by little, we are starting to see our efforts come to fruition.
I’ll go into detail below, but first I’d like to underscore a key overall goal for our organization that I mentioned at the summer conference in June: It’s imperative that we get reinvigorated in 2023.
Many of you have asked how you can get involved. There are plenty of ways.
First, you can make it a point to attend winter judging in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., in February, or take part in our 50th-year celebration at the Las Vegas summer conference in July, or attend your respective region meetings. Other ways to contribute?
- Get involved in your region and help your chair in the planning of your region meeting(s); or assist in bringing in more student chapters in your neck of the woods. We are hoping to significantly grow our student membership for 2023 (more on that later).
- Help in the reporting, writing and editing of the APSE Newsletter. Jake Adams, who has done so much (along with Lindsey Smith) in launching the newsletter, is up to his ears in the role of interim sports editor in Louisville and could really use some help.
- Join Erik Hall and help produce video interviews with APSE legends and former presidents that we can circulate as we commemorate the 50th year of APSE.
There are many other ways to help, but if you are scrambling in a challenging job just trying to keep your head above water, let me suggest a path of least resistance: Make a small donation of $22 or $23 to the APSE Foundation. As I promised in June, APSE now has a button atop our website that leads you directly to the donation site.
Where would the funds go? After some research and careful consideration, we think the best way to have a strong APSE is to have a strong APSE Foundation. The Foundation, with its missions of diversity and education, was established as a 501(c)(3) in 2020 to facilitate tax-free donations and grants for these objectives — ones that APSE also contributes to annually. A primary goal for APSE is to promote the Foundation and help it flourish.
We are not seeking large donations. Clearly, there are very important causes in the world to consider, and we are journalists, not millionaires. But if APSE has had a positive influence on your life or your career, perhaps you will find a little room in your heart and wallet over the next few months. We’re sounding the trumpets for $22 in 2022 and $23 after the new year arrives.
I’d like to thank my fellow officers and the region chairs, the committee chairs, the Foundation board members (including Executive Director Don Shelton) and former APSE presidents Lisa Wilson, Gary Potosky, Michael Anastasi, John Cherwa, Gerry Ahern, Garry D. Howard, Phil Kaplan, Todd M. Adams, John Bednarowski and Tommy Deas for helping me steer the ship. Yes, they’re all still involved! Below are the highlights:
Donations — We now have a donations mechanism to help raise funds.
Surveys — You will soon see Part II of our APSE survey series: conferences, sites and hotels. The questions should be quick and easy to answer. The survey should arrive in your emails within the week.
Initial contest rules/dates — Contest chair Naila Meyers has studied the responses in the first survey and worked with the Contest Committee, and has released the initial details, including a move to a print portfolio rather than separate daily and Sunday categories. Special sections have also returned as a category for A/B division. The print portfolio will consist of two dailies, two Sundays and a wild card. There will be 1 mandatory daily and 1 mandatory Sunday, selected from two weeks in 2022. The first mandatory week is Feb. 7-13. We’ll soon be announcing the final format.
Diversity Fellows — The 2022-23 Fellows will gather for the first time Dec. 9-11 at “Diversity Weekend” in Nashville. Congrats again to our incoming class:
- Patrick Bernadeau, Pensacola News Journal
- Meredith Perri, MassLive / The Republican
- Zach Powell, Lock Haven Express
- Damon Sayles, The Athletic
- Alex Vejar, Salt Lake Tribune
- Kelly Ward, Seattle Times
Scholarships — Congrats to APSE’s 2022 scholarship recipients. They are:
- Evan Gerike, a senior at Indiana (Jack Berninger Scholarship)
- Jennifer Moglia, a sophomore at Quinnipiac (Roy Hewitt Scholarship)
- Grant Johnson, a junior at James Madison (Tim Wheatley Scholarship)
- Shanti Furtado, a sophomore at UMass (Joe Sullivan Scholarship)
- Alexis Davis, a graduate of NC A&T and a graduate student at Arizona State, along with Miles Johnson, a senior at Morehouse (Garry D. Howard Scholarships)
Student contest — Congrats to Northwestern University student Lia Assimakopoulos, who was selected as the winner of the 2022 APSE Student Contest.
Locker room access — I was happy to see that the NBA joined its North American pro sports counterparts — NFL, MLB, NHL and MLS — in reopening its pregame and postgame locker rooms. The league made its decision following extensive conversations with APSE, the Professional Basketball Writers Association, the Association for Women in Sports Media, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
On an unrelated note, I spoke recently with NBA media relations officials, and they voiced their concern that they haven’t been given opportunities to comment on NBA-related news stories. They cited several examples, including one in which a news outlet sent an email to league officials asking for comment but published the story a few minutes later with a line stating — and I’m paraphrasing here — the league did not comment. While acknowledging that being first with news is important, journalistic ethics compel news organizations to seek both sides to every story. Being first is a worthy goal but not at the expense of our ethics. Because APSE does not have stated guidelines on its website, I’m including the SPJ Code of Ethics here as a refresher (which never hurts, right?).
• APSE also ran into an issue with the California Horse Racing Board, which was briefly requiring a CHRB license — which includes fingerprinting and a background check — from media members requesting regular access to the backstretch and stable areas. After John Cherwa, Gerry Ahern and I emailed a letter contesting their extreme intentions, the CHRB (which presides over such racetracks as Santa Anita, Del Mar, Los Alamitos and Golden Gate Fields) revised its media policy, allowing the tracks to issue credentials for visitor access. The Los Angeles Times and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association were also on the case.
Regions — Gary Potosky, Jason Murray and Michael Kates are working hard on re-energizing the regions. Jason, chair of the Membership Committee, is building a yearlong calendar for region events/meetings, commissioners, national events, student zooms, diversity fellows, etc. Michael, the Regions Committee chair, has been contacting region leadership directly about the scheduling and arranging of region meetings (which I’ve also emailed them about), and Gary and Lisa, in her role as our student liaison leader, are keeping close tabs as well. Says Gary: “Soon to come: New idea for Regions post-2023 summer conference. You won’t want to miss it!”
Here is APSE’s current region leadership. We need to elect a vice chair in the Great Plains region:
West: Chair: Marcus Vanderberg (ESPN); Vice Chair: Emily Horos (Arizona Republic)
Atlantic Coast: Chair: Monica Holland (Fayetteville Observer); Vice Chair: Justin Pelletier (News & Observer)
Southeast: Chair: Erik Hall (St. Louis Post-Dispatch*); Vice Chair: John Devine (Miami Herald)
Northeast: Chair: Michael Rose (Newsday); Vice Chair: Jim Pignatiello (MassLive / The Republican)
Southwest: Chair: Carlos Silva (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal); Vice Chair: Thomas Scott (Beaumont Enterprise)
Northwest: Chair: Chadd Cripe (Idaho Statesman); Vice Chair: Donn Walden (Lewiston Tribune)
Great Lakes: Chair: Kyle Nabors (Shaw Local); Vice Chair: Jason Hoffman (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Great Plains: Chair: Chris Kwiecinski (Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune)
*Erik Hall and John Devine have agreed that Erik will stay on as Southeast Region chair until a seamless transition can be arranged.
Student chapters — We are in the process of revising APSE’s requirements to make it easier to apply, and we’re hoping to add at least 20 more student chapters over the next year. I have emailed the region chairs, asking them to identify and contact school representatives and to prepare a report by the end of November. In short, we require student chapters to be “sanctioned” by universities, which in some cases require as many as 25 student members to be officially sanctioned. With student turnover, that’s a high number to maintain. In addition, we require “faculty” advisors, where an employed “instructor,” such as an adjunct professor — many of whom are APSE members and associates — might do the trick.
APSE contest certificates — All printable certificates for second- through 10th-place finishers in the 2020 and 2021 contests are being emailed to the organization’s editor, who will distribute them. Thanks a ton to Lisa Wilson for getting us caught up! Please email Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have not received yours by Nov. 30. We are considering making plaques available for purchase. That could be a future survey question.
Bylaws — All of Gary Potosky’s bylaw proposals, which updated a lot of outdated language, were passed and have been updated on the APSE site. Thanks, Gary!
On the docket
- Announce the finalized rules breakdown (coming soon)
- Announce mentorship pairings for 2023 (coming soon)
- Announce conference sites. We will review the survey answers, with hopes of selecting the next two summer conference sites perhaps sometime early next year
- Distribute survey No. 3 — Dues / Small circulation questions / Miscellaneous / Technology (some of that, and more, could be part of a fourth survey)
- Increase the number of student chapters and get region meetings scheduled
- Review and refine the regions
- Continue to assess the website, which was down for several days recently (we are blaming GoDaddy!).
- Find a new webmaster who is a good editor and WordPress troubleshooter. Erin Brown was great in succeeding Larry Graham and got us through some glitches, but she has moved on. If you are interested or know someone who would be good for this role, please contact Dan Spears (email@example.com) or me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Concentrate on raising funds, both for the summer convention (through sponsors) and the APSE Foundation (through the donations link). Tommy Deas has done an excellent job contacting potential sponsors and receiving commitments – succeeding the last two years during a pandemic, no less. But it doesn’t get any easier.
If you haven’t noticed, that last one is important. Getting sponsors for the conference is always going to be a challenge. And I believe when the APSE Foundation rises to greatness with the help of grants and donations, as I know it will, it someday will be in a position to help APSE with a few of its own diversity and education initiatives.
Though APSE’s finances are stable — and we certainly expect to keep it that way — we need to find solutions for recurring issues such as having steady funding and sponsorships in place, avoiding hotel room shortfalls, updating our evolving dues structures, and incentivizing and improving attendance at APSE’s main events — the summer conference, contest judging, region meetings and even the annual commissioner’s meeting in New York. And we need widespread participation.
The APSE officers have batted around a lot of ideas, and we’ve gotten some really good ones from members. But we’d love to hear more.
It’s time to reengage. It’s time to dig deep.