APSE members,

The election for second vice president is under way. Cast your vote for Ethan Joyce, Reid Laymance, Naila-Jean Meyers orJustin Pelletier by Friday, April 30. All votes should be emailed to Executive Director Bill Eichenberger at billapse707@gmail.com.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Each APSE member organization is allowed to cast one vote.

Name: Ethan Joyce

News organization: Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal

Background/APSE experience: Currently the Atlantic Coast region chair. Joined the Journal as Appalachian State beat reporter in 2017 and added Wake Forest men’s basketball responsibilities before this season. Have worked in the Carolinas since graduating from Syracuse in 2014. Was a student member of APSE while in undergrad at App State, then became a professional member in 2015. Served as Atlantic Coast vice region chair with Bret McCormick. 

Objective: A major focus of mine has been student engagement and involvement. Frankly we all should be invested, for both the health of our profession and also the long-term livelihood of APSE. I want APSE to continue providing more advice/critique opportunities to students, as well as younger reporters, who can benefit from the professional experiences of APSE leadership and longtime members. My age group, and those incoming, need to see value in being involved to fortify this organization for the future. I was happy to see APSE start its mentorship program, and I’d love to see that fostered and expanded to include writer-to-writer mentorships, too. Finally, I want to invest/provide as much support for our diversity efforts as I can. Our occupation, and specifically our sector of it, needs it. 

Quotable: “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing,” Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson in “Parks & Recreation” 

Name: Reid Laymance

News organization: Houston Chronicle

Background/APSE experience: It only seems like I can’t hold a job: Began career at Dallas Morning News and also worked at the National Sports Daily, Houston Chronicle (Version 1.0), San Jose Mercury News, Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Houston Chronicle (Version 2.0).  My first APSE convention was 1989 and was amazed at the chance to learn from others. Since then, served as region chair of the Southwest, Great Plains and Southwest again. Olympic committee member for several years.
Objective: To defend our rights for access; to help us learn, develop and share best practices in an evolving market; to recognize good work; to keep APSE’s push for diversity moving.

Quotable: “Bet big, win big.” Not my words and perhaps attributed to the late Van McKenzie (or about his wagering tendencies). But it’s a fun way of reminding ourselves to always aim high, with our sections, websites, hiring, etc. because the payoff will be great.

Name: Naila-Jean Meyers (but everyone calls me Naila)

News organization: Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Background/APSE experience: I joined the Star Tribune in Minneapolis as senior assistant sports editor in January 2020 after working for 15 years in various editing and writing roles in the sports department at the New York Times. I started my career as an online editor at Sporting News and also worked as a sports copy editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. I went to my first APSE convention when it was in St. Louis many years ago, and I attended commissioners meetings in New York for several years. But my real entry into APSE came in 2017, when I served as a contest judge for the first time at the winter conference. I have been a contest judge every year since, a regular attendee of the summer conference, and active on the contest committee and the scholarship committee and at regional meetings. I am serving as a mentor in the mentorship program for the first time this year.

Objective: More than a year in a pandemic, working and covering sports remotely and experiencing the reckoning in journalism over inclusion, has made me appreciate the importance and the challenge of making and sustaining connections.

APSE is a valuable network of sports journalists, and what is networking but connecting with people? I am in my current job because of connections I made at APSE, and I know I am not alone in that. And if this business — like most others — is about who you know, then how can we as an organization get to know more people?

That means growing membership, of course. That starts with outreach to students and young journalists, plugging them into our network early with a refined pitch on the value of our organization. Making connections means improving how we communicate our mission, efforts that are already under way with initiatives like the newsletter, new Slack channels, and a redesigned website and social strategy. The erosion of access from the pandemic means that restoring connections with the organizations we cover will be a primary concern of APSE in the year ahead.

Making connections also means more collaborating with other journalism organizations on programming and policy. It means sustaining development opportunities and supporting members through various stages of their careers. APSE can use everyone’s comfort level with video conferencing from the pandemic to develop more programming throughout the year and improve participation. I am particularly interested in discussions on leadership and management, and using our network in a more formal way to be a resource for people dealing with transitions.

It turns out talking to people in our industry about what they do and how they do it is one of my favorite things.  I want to keep those conversations going outside the conferences, in wider groups, to bring more journalists into our fold and keep them here.

Quotable: My mantra in my career has been “the newspaper comes out every day.” That may not be technically true of a physical newspaper in 2021, but my philosophy remains the same, even in a digital-first world. What’s done is done; what has not been done has not been done. We do it all again tomorrow. And no matter how good or bad my day was, the paper still comes out because of the teamwork involved in our “daily miracle.” Ralph Waldo Emerson has a more eloquent version of this: “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

Name: Justin Pelletier

News organization: McClatchy Southeast (Raleigh News & Observer, Durham Herald Sun, Charlotte Observer, et al)

Background/APSE experience: I started freelancing college games for my hometown paper in 1998, while still in school. After graduating with a journalism degree from Boston University and taking a much-needed year off to drive across the country (twice!), I started full time with that same hometown paper, the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine, in March of 2002. In 2007, while still on the main hockey beat, I received a promotion to Assistant Sports Editor, Online.

In 2012, I assumed the role of Sports Editor, and in 2016 I was promoted to Managing Editor for Nights, Sports and Digital, still at the Sun Journal. In addition to overseeing sports, I oversaw the nightside operation to include copy desk and pagination, and also the digital department and implementation of digital strategies across the newsroom. I then spent two years as Sports Editor of the Boston Herald, where we persevered in the face of substantial staff cuts and established a strong digital presence, often leading the newsroom on that end. After a layoff from the Herald, I took my time and found the right fit for me and my family. In late February, I started as the Deputy Regional Sports Editor for McClatchy-Southeast, based at the Raleigh News & Observer, where I oversee NHL coverage and high schools, among many other tasks.

Either I or my organization has been an APSE member for better than 15 years, and I have been personally involved for nine. I have been to every winter and summer conference since my first in winter 2013 (15 in-person and two virtual, and counting). I served two years as Northeast Region vice chair (2016-18), and two more as chair (2018-20). I was elected APSE Third VP in 2018, but had to abdicate almost immediately after being hired at an organization that was too large to fall under the “small organization” umbrella. I have served on the contest committee and grassroots committee.

Objective: As we emerge from the grip of the pandemic, the sports media landscape has seen some pretty remarkable shifts. In many cases, organizations temporarily shuttered sports jobs as sports themselves shut down, forcing writers and editors into news roles. Of course, we are among the most versatile and deadline-ready journalists in many organizations, so the transition was a bit easier to handle. But as the sports world awakens, the interesting pattern to follow will be how many sports departments and other pieces of the organizations return completely to their previous roles and capacities. We’ve learned a lot about covering things from a distance — and so have the teams and organizations we cover. It will be incumbent upon news organizations to stand behind journalists as we return to arenas and stadiums, to ensure that our access returns as the pandemic ebbs. It should also be among our duties at APSE to support member organizations and their right to freely cover teams and leagues, no matter the size and scope. We need to keep a watchful eye on access.  

Additionally, the pandemic has allowed us to better take stock of how we run our annual contest, and our annual meetings. No one will argue that meeting in person is far better, but what we’ve now been forced to do is manage it remotely. Integrating what we’ve learned by full remote judging and conferences into an in-person or — ideally — a hybrid conference model would allow the inclusion of more members, and perhaps drive membership higher if more people had access to more of what we have to offer. And as for the contest itself, we’ve made great strides the past few years in digitizing everything from entries to categories. I would look to further expand that reach, and work to fairly represent what it is we all actually do now, with a bent to digital and a nod to print.

Speaking of membership: That we have not bled members during the pandemic is a phenomenal sign. The focus has to be retention and addition, and we do that by recruiting younger editors and writers looking to become editors (as I was), continuing and expanding upon the mentoring program, and offering our long-standing members the bountiful reasons to remain involved. Partnership with members of other important national journalism organizations such as AWSM, NABJ, AAJA, NAHL, NLGJA, SPJ and others. We’ve made important strides in diversity training, education and hiring, but there is still much left to do. I would look to expand those efforts the best we could, trying to cross-promote and cross-populate our organizations to better assist everyone involved.

Quotable: “Work consists of what a body is obliged to do. Play consists of what a body is not obliged to do.” — Mark Twain.

 At the root of what we do, why we all started, is the fact that none of us ever really wanted to “work” for a living. We don’t “have” to do what we do, we “want” to do what we do. And to do it with the companionship of those in our shops, and those in the APSE network, just adds to everything. Yes, we are all beholden to our jobs, and yes, we all need to earn a paycheck, but down deep, work is play. And what a playground we have.

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