By Mike Sherman, APSE First Vice President/Contest Chair

A team of New York Times reporters took first place in the APSE 2013 contest for Explanatory writing in the over 175,000 category for their story on the death of free diver Nicholas Mevoli.

John Branch, Adam Skolnick, William J. Broad and Mary Pilon will be presented a first-place plaque at the 2014 APSE Banquet June 28 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va.

Mick McCabe, Mark Snyder and David Jesse of the Detroit Free Press placed second for their story on allegations against an Oakland University women’s basketball coach. Mike Vorkunov of  The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.) placed third for his story on college basketball coaches who agreed to wear heart monitors to measure the physical rigors of the job.

The top 10 is listed below with links to each writers’ Twitter pages and entries.

Sports editors in the over 175,000 circulation category submitted 62 Explanatory entries. Contest catchers numbered each entry, assuring they had been stripped of headlines, graphics, bylines and any other element that would identify the writer or news organization.

In early March, preliminary judges at the APSE Winter Conference in Indianapolis selected a top 10, with each judge ranking the entries in order from 1 to 10 separately on a secret ballot. Entries were given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for second and so on down to 1 point for a 10th-place vote. The final 10 were given to a second judging group, which ranked the entries 1-10 in the same fashion. The winner and final rankings are determined by tallying the ballots.

For purposes of the APSE contest, explanatory stories include trends, issues and original ideas. They shed new light on issues and personalities in the news. They are more than the feature and less than the project entry. They go beyond the “yesterday” of the breaking news story.

The contest is open to APSE members. Go to this link to join.

2013 APSE Contest: Explanatory, over 175,000 circulation

(First-place votes in parentheses)

1. John Branch, Adam Skolnick, William J. Broad and Mary Pilon, The New York Times, (2) 56 points

A Diver’s Rise, and Swift Death, at the Limits of a Growing Sport

2. Mick McCabe, Mark Snyder and David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, (2), 40 points

Players' shocking allegations against former NCAA women's basketball coach

3. Mike Vorkunov, The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.), 39 points

Rutgers' Mike Rice among 3 coaches to wear heart monitors to show health effects

4. Travis Sawchik, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 36 points

Aggressive defensive plan has led to Pirates' turnaround

5. Mark Zeigler, U-T San Diego, (1), 34 points

Piracy: Sports leagues' biggest problem?

6. Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle, 31 points

For injured UH player, every second counted in survival

7. Ken Berger,, (1), 30 points

Nutrition in the NBA; Part I: Lessons learned in L.A. help Howard's career

8. (tie) Tim Tucker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 22 points

How Braves executives quickly, quietly navigated Cobb deal

9. (tie) Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, 22 points

BMX bikers turn neglected Detroit land into their own playground

10. Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times, 20 points

Dysfunction at the top: Eric Wedge, others point to trouble in Mariners’ front office

(Mike Sherman, APSE first vice president and contest chair, is sports editor of The Oklahoman. Email him at, follow him at @MikeSherman or call 405-475-3164.)