By Jack Berninger, APSE Executive Director

The election period for APSE second vice president is open. The second vice president will assume office at the closing meeting of the summer conference in June.

 Each eligible news organization has one vote.  To vote, send your choice to The deadline to vote is March 9.

 Bios of the candidates – Todd M. Adams, Don Shelton and Hank Winnicki – are below in alphabetical order.

Todd M. Adams

News organization:  U-T San Diego

Background: I grew up a Cubs fan in central Illinois and studied at Southern Illinois University – the Harvard of the Midwest. Upon finishing, I worked as sports editor at several small papers in Illinois, including the Mt. Vernon Register-News and the Aurora Beacon-News, before becoming SE at the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. From there, I was hired as Assistant Sports Editor/Colleges for the combined staff of the Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun Sentinel. I’m currently the sports editor at U-T San Diego, where I’ve been for almost three years.

Todd Adams
Todd Adams

APSE experience: Probably my proudest APSE accomplishment is bringing the convention to San Diego this summer. I hope to see you all at the Westgate Hotel in June. A close second is that I am the only person to have participated in every APSE website contest judging (six years and counting), having served as a contest chair for the past three years. I have also participated in eight “print” contests, having chaired a group four times. I am currently the head of the regions committee and have served as the Atlantic Coast region chair and vice chair. I’ve been a member of APSE for 10 years, with my first convention being in Las Vegas in 2006.”

Objective: “Like the media industry in general, APSE is enduring a tough time. Membership is down, and it has become increasingly difficult to earn the money needed to accomplish the organization’s goals. This has to change for APSE to survive.

We’ve had annual discussions about membership drives, but they continually fall flat. A workable plan must be formalized and, more importantly, executed. If elected, I would propose a membership committee to work with region chairs and vice chairs. The goal of this group would be to make a list of potential new members (big and small) and to develop a comprehensive recruitment plan, so that whoever makes the first call has a solid starting point. I would also propose an “introductory offer” for new members, to give them a taste of APSE and hopefully get them hooked. After a first recruitment call, there would be a follow up call from myself or one of the other officers. My goal would be to sign up at least 30 new members each year. This would be an ongoing project, rather than a one-time push.

Thirty new members a year wouldn’t be easy. To accomplish it we’d need to focus on ourselves. What value does APSE bring organizations? How can we increase that value?

These questions would be particularly important for small papers and web-only organizations, where there are the most potential new members, but where money is often tightest. We have to do a better job listening to this group to:

  • Make changes to the C and D divisions of the contest when there is an appetite for changes.
  • Increase development opportunities at the regional level for those who can’t attend national functions.
  • Find ways to make it more affordable for those organizations to attend regional and national events.
  • Make sure small organizations are well represented on panels, judgings, etc. at national events to ensure they get extreme value from their trips.
  • Provide mentoring opportunities for young sports editors with experienced sports editors.

Working with small organizations to make sure APSE works for them would be my No. 1 objective.

Also, I’d like to build on the student membership initiative started by Ron Fritz and Gerry Ahern and expanded on by Tim Stephens. I’d work to start five new student chapters each year. I’d also like to find a way to start a student contest – probably only a category or two at first with potential for expansion as student membership grows. Eventually, we should find a way to bring in several students (perhaps scholarship winners) to help judge those categories. The long-term goal would be to introduce more young journalists to our organization, so they understand the value of being a member once they are in the working world.

Finally, a small point, but I’d work with Tommy Deas and Jack Berninger to ensure that every person that wins an APSE award gets some kind of physical recognition (a certificate, etc.). I’d also like to backtrack a few years and send certificates to past winners who haven’t yet received anything. There’s got to be a way to make this happen, within a reasonable cost, even if it means emailing certificates for writers to print out themselves.

 Quotable: “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo

  Name: Don Shelton

 News organization: The Seattle Times

 Background: I’ve been a sports journalist for more than 40 years and a sports editor for more than 30. I understand the challenges faced by sports editors and reporters at small, medium and large dailies because I’ve walked in your shoes, and I’ve seen (and embraced) the transformation in sports journalism. I worked my way through the University of Idaho by writing for small dailies in Moscow and Lewiston, Idaho; was a sports reporter at the Yakima Herald-Republic; was a reporter, desk editor, assistant sports editor and sports editor at The Journal-American in Bellevue; was executive sports editor at the Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press-Democrat; and have been an assistant sports editor and sports editor at The Seattle Times since 1987. I’ve dictated stories on deadline from phone booths (remember those?), grappled with shrinking budgets, news holes and staffs, and coordinated large teams of reporters from Olympics and Super Bowls.


Don Shelton
Don Shelton

APSE experience: I’ve been an APSE member since 1982. I’ve served as a Northwest Regional chair and vice chair and been on several APSE committees, including diversity and recruitment, and am now the APSE’s liaison to the Pro Football Writers of America. I’ve been a judge and judging team leader, and have attended and presented at more APSE Regional and National Conferences than I can count. I’ve loved every role I’ve been in and am honored to be a member. A role I take very seriously is welcoming and mentoring newer members. They are the future of APSE.

Objective: My priorities would be: 1) membership; 2) regional conferences; 3) communication; 4) contests. 

Membership at smaller and mid-sized newspapers remains the lifeblood of our organization, so we need to do a better job of reaching out to them and making sports editors understand the value of becoming members. Expanding membership to more writers, to student journalists and to other appropriate organizations is also essential. I’d look closely at improving what we’re doing in each area.

 Regional conferences are also essential, and updating our guidelines and standards for regional chairs and regional conferences so they have clear expectations, better resources and aren’t starting from scratch every election and conference. 

 I’d make the website a top priority and would keep it relevant with items about what is going on in the industry and updated with member news. I would also reach out to members and leadership on a regular basis.

The recent overhaul of our APSE contest under the leadership of Mike Sherman, Mary Byrne and Tommy Deas needs to continue and several categories should be examined closely to make sure they’re consistent and relevant for each circulation category.

 Quotable: “APSE is the best professional organization I’ve ever been involved in, but it needs to constantly evolve to stay relevant and healthy. I’d work hard to make sure that happens and would be honored to get the chance to help lead.”


 Hank Winnicki

 News organization: Newsday (Long Island, NY)

Background: I have been the Assistant Managing Editor for Sports at Newsday since 2006, overseeing the staff’s transition and development as a multi-platform sports department. Before Newsday, I spent 11 years at the New York Daily News. I started as a copy boy there in 1993 before working the agate desk and copy desk. In 1999, I was named an assistant sports editor. I came to Newsday in 2004 to run the copy desk.

Hank Winnicki
Hank Winnicki

APSE experience: I served as the Northeast Regional chairperson from 2011-2013 and continue to remain active in the region. As chairperson, I tried to tap into the region’s wealth of talent by emphasizing three key areas for our bi-annual meetings – trends, technology and career development. I have been a contest judge six times and been to five national conventions.

Objective: APSE must provide the vision and expertise to help the organization evolve through these dynamic times. We must stay on top of the technology that continues to shape the way we do our jobs. We need passionate leaders with creative ideas to help chart that course. We must continue our mission to find ways to increase membership. We must push to improve the APSE contest so that it is accurate reflection of the great work that’s being done on all platforms and in all circulation categories.

Quotable: “My experience with APSE has helped me learn and grow as a journalist and as a sports editor. It would be an honor to serve for this organization and give back what it has given to me.”

(Jack Berninger is executive director of APSE. Email him at