By Tommy Hamzik
ELON, N.C. — Forward thinking was the premise at the APSE Atlantic Coast region meeting.
Sessions discussed social media, the changing nature of covering college athletics and tips for students and employers in the annual meeting Jan. 19 hosted by Elon University’s School of Communications.
Sports editors from Virginia and North Carolina along with students from Elon, UNC and Virginia Tech were in attendance.
The day began with Sporting News’ senior social media editor Troy Machir, Charlotte Observer sports editor Mike Persinger and CBSSports.com writer Will Brinson discussing how to effectively use social media, particularly Twitter, on a panel moderated by Daily Press sports editor and region chair Andi Petrini. How to build a brand and a personality was a theme, with Persinger saying that social media allows you to be “more than your byline.”
And the advice for students: “If you’ve tweeted profanity or something untoward, I will do my best to find it before I hire you,” Persinger said.
Richmond Times-Dispatch sports editor Mike Szvetitz led a panel with Mike Barber, the Virginia Tech beat reporter for the T-D, and Andrew Carter, the UNC beat reporter at the Raleigh News & Observer, about the changing nature of covering Division I athletics. Both spoke of their experiences covering college sports — Barber previously covered James Madison and Carter used to cover Florida State as well — and how the schools are hiring in-house beat writers now to help control the message.
This, Carter and Barber reiterated, has led to trouble with access to coaches and players.
“The biggest change [in sports writing] is the number of voices weighing in and weighing in with credibility,” Szvetitz said. “I think the influx of the way we do our jobs has caused coaches to back up.”
After lunch, Petrini moderated a panel with four students involved with student media — Elon’s Rajat Agarwal and Tommy Hamzik, UNC’s Grace Raynor and Virginia Tech’s Rachel Franks — who fielded questions about their goals for the future and what they’re looking for in an editor.
Then, the students asked the editors questions, which included topics such as dealing with sports information directors, the process editors go through when hiring a writer, and other career advice.
“You guys have the same rights as us,” Szvetitz told the students. “APSE is here to help you.”
During the business portion of the meeting, Wilmington Star-News sports editor Dan Spears was elected the region’s vice chair. Current vice chair, Roanoke Times sports editor Steve Hemphill, will chair the region after the June convention.
The day wrapped with the opportunity for one-on-one conversations between the students and editors.
Tommy Hamzik is a sophomore at Elon University. He has interned with the Burlington Times-News and is the managing editor of Elon’s student newspaper, The Pendulum.