By Daniel Paulling, Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal
Gregg Doyel’s first thought surprised him after he heard Bob Kravitz was leaving the Indianapolis Star.
No, it wasn’t about Kravitz moving from a newspaper columnist job to one at a television station. Doyel was struck by his desire for Kravitz’s old job despite already being a national columnist for CBS Sports.
Still, Doyel didn’t apply or contact anyone he knew at the Star. He said he’s had poor experiences pursuing jobs and figured someone would reach out to him if the newspaper was interested. Star managing director Ronnie Ramos emailed Doyel a few hours later, asking him to call when he could.
Star editor Jeff Taylor spoke with Doyel at the end of a two-day interview process and outlined his plans for the position. Doyel wasn’t a hard sell; he accepted the job offer immediately and began last October.
“We wanted someone who would have a huge impact when they came in here,” Taylor said. “When you come into a market where you are, in this case, the leading figure of sports coverage, you’re the person who becomes much more a part of the fabric of the community. You really are someone who has to establish himself as the person everyone in this market can’t wait to read and see what they have to say.”
Doyel believes he’s better suited to his current position than his previous one.
Writers at CBS Sports and other national outlets such as ESPN or Yahoo write for a wide audience. They could cover Duke basketball one day, the Cleveland Cavaliers the next and the Super Bowl later that week. Working for the Star, however, allows him to focus on just one community.
“The truth is being a national columnist was too hard for me,” Doyel said. “You’ve got to know the whole country or you have to care enough to try to know the whole country. After 10 years, I didn’t care enough to try. In hindsight, I see it. At the time, I didn’t see it. I was run down.”
He also believes his writing style has changed over the years to better suit his new job.
“A couple of years ago, I was a big, fat jerk,” Doyel said. “The old me was a wrestling heel. I embraced the rest of me, which is actually if you have me around, you might find you agree with me and you respect what I’m bringing, which is complete honesty and being as nice about it as I can.”
Doyel has written several columns that have resonated with the Star’s readers, including one about a homeless high school basketball player named Various Wilson that spurred readers to donate money.
He’s also written about youth football coach John Padgett, who died at age 48 of lung cancer four days after coaching his last game, and a Indianapolis Colts fan named Jon Templeman, who has a brain tumor and was given a Colts playoff ticket as a result of Doyel’s column.
“When you write for CBS or ESPN or wherever and write ‘Lane Kiffin is a big, fat jerk,’ people are going to click on it,” Doyel said. “You might feel good about it for about 24 hours, but then that story’s gone and it didn’t create a ripple.
“The stuff about Various and Jon Templeman and coach Padgett, it matters. That’s what I want.”
Other personnel moves across the country:
—ESPN: Executive vice president and executive editor John Walsh retired. …. NASCAR columnist Ed Hinton retired at age 66 after 47 years in journalism.
—NBA.com: Hired former South Florida Sun Sentinel sports editor Greg Lee as editorial director.
—NBC Sports: Hired former USA Today writer Nate Ryan as lead NASCAR writer and on-air reporter … hired Dustin Long as NASCAR writer and editor
—USA Today Sports: Hired Brant James to cover motorsports.
—Daily Herald: Mourned the death of Chicago Blackhawks reporter Mike Spellman, a veteran of 23 years at the paper, who died Jan. 20 at age 50.
—The News Journal: Hired APSE Diversity Fellow Carron J. Phillips as enterprise sports writer
—Philadelphia Inquirer: Moved former Philadelphia Phillies beat writer Matt Gelb to city desk … hired former Philadelphia Daily News reporter Jake Kaplan as Phillies beat writer
—Boston Globe: Hired former Louisville Courier-Journal columnist Adam Himmelsbach as Boston Celtics beat writer
—Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Hired Robbie Neiswanger as business reporter after he worked 15 years as a sports reporter at ArkansasNews.com
—Fort Myers News-Press: Hired Adam Regan as high school sports reporter … hired Cory Mull as high school sports columnist
—South Florida Sun Sentinel: Laid off sports reporter Steve Gorten
—Corpus Christi Caller-Times: Hired Len Hayward as sports editor
—Los Angeles Times: Hired Zach Helfand to cover UCLA basketball
(Daniel Paulling covers Texas Tech athletics and recruiting for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Contact him at @DanielPaulling or firstname.lastname@example.org.)