By Gary Potosky

The Associated Press Sports Editors, the nation’s most prestigious organization of sports journalists, is only as strong as its members. And that membership has been strengthened greatly in this century due in large part to its diversity fellowship and leadership program.

Gary Potosky

Sponsored by APSE, and with grant support from the Knight Foundation, this year’s seventh class has begun an educational journalism experience that will last through the 2018 summer conference in Nashville. These professionals met in Nashville in early February for APSE’s annual Diversity Weekend, which included classroom instruction around leadership, journalism and digital content strategy. They will be judges at APSE’s annual winter conference Feb. 24-28 in St. Petersburg, Fla., attend regional meetings throughout the year, and are invited to April’s commissioners’ meetings in New York.

They are:

Reina Kempt, a page designer at The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La. This Louisiana Tech grad has also worked at The Oklahoman and Tuscaloosa News.

Erik Bacharach, a beat reporter covering Middle Tennessee State for Gannett-Tennessee.  The Binghamton University alum and New Yorker at heart previously covered high school sports for Newsday and the Opelika-Auburn News.

Kwani Lunis, a social media coordinator for NBC Boston, is hoping to find more opportunities in front of the camera. She wrote for SB Nation as a Boston College senior.

Adam Coleman, a Texas Tech Red Raider, is the high school sports coverage coordinator for the Houston Chronicle.

Standing left to right, Fellows Reina Kempt, Dana Sulonen (Class IV), Kwani Lunis, Diana Nearhos (Class VI), Adam Coleman and Erik Bacharach, along with Michael Anastasi, kneeling left, and Jorge Rojas.

These four will be embraced as part of the APSE widening family net, and learn from some of America’s best journalists. Their experience with this organization will help them as they seek promotion and career advancement.

Reina Kempt

“My goal is to lead my own sports department and change the way people receive their sports coverage,” Reina Kempt said. “I want to come up with ways to appeal to the millennials who aren’t into newspapers, but also keep the loyalty of lovers of the print era. The goal is to bring more stability to an industry that has been plagued with downsizing and layoffs.”

Adam Coleman

“I just never want to stop improving,” Coleman said. “Those are words to live by outside the newsroom as well as inside of it. Having this thirst to learn something new

any chance I get is what’s driven me to this point in my career. I expect that fear of ever becoming complacent will drive me whether I’m a young reporter or veteran editor.”

Because of the white male-dominated demographics of sports journalism, these four understand as well as anyone the challenges facing them as diverse journalists.

Kwani Lunis

As a woman of color, I know that the steps to my success will be harder than most, but I know that learning from those who have made it before me will help me on that path,” said Kwani Lunis.

Erik Bacharach

Added Erik Bacharach: “Having a diverse background is one of my greatest points of pride, and it’s an honor to be a part of an organization and program that values diversity as strongly as APSE does.”

These individuals aspire to be the leaders in sports journalism. And they see the APSE’s diversity program as an opportunity to learn valuable lessons from the best in the business.

“My hope is to gain a better understanding of all that is behind the scenes in our industry and how a sports department is run,” Bacharach said.

Coleman, who has a passion for writing about high school sports, doesn’t want to stop there.

“I hope in years’ time to be on the path toward heading a sports section that is not only locally respected but regionally, statewide and nationally too,” Coleman said. “I’d like to have as many experiences and wear as many hats as I can in this business.”

Gary Potosky is sports editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and philly.com. Reach him by email at gpotosky@phillynews.com or on Twitter @InqPotosky.

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