By Michael A. Anastasi,
Managing Editor/Salt Lake Tribune
APSE President
 
What an energizing four days we had together for our winter conference in Orlando.
 
Congratulations to those whose work was recognized among the nation’s best and thank you to the nearly 100 judges who worked very hard to continue to make the APSE contest one of the most prestigious in journalism.
 
Good ideas always result when you get a group of journalists together, and I’m most excited to announce what our collaboration in Florida produced: the University Outreach Initiative.
 
This latest APSE program began with an idea by Baltimore Sun sports editor Ron Fritz at our opening executive committee meeting as we discussed ways to continue to foster professional development at all levels of sports journalism. We also want to jump start participation among college sports journalists, having opened membership to students this year.
 
Under the leadership of Dave Schwartz, a former sports editor now at the University of Iowa, a college student membership drive is in its infancy. Journalism students at Iowa have produced a flyer with information on what APSE is, how to join and the benefits.
 
Under the University Outreach Initiative, we go beyond that effort. APSE is asking members to personally sponsor a student sports
journalist from either his or her own alma mater or other university a member might claim as her or her own (some editors, for example,felt they could be more effective working with a student in the town where they now work rather than where they actually went to school).
 
But the commitment goes beyond simply paying the $25 student membership fee. At its core, the Initiative is about establishing a
personal connection and, if possible, a mentorship. 
 
What would students receive for their membership?
 
Foremost is that personal connection. Beyond that, we ask each editor to review the student’s resume, cover letter and clips, making
suggestions as warranted and putting the student in best position to get a job.
 
Although students receive a lot of advice from their universities, editors who actually make hiring decisions know best what skills and experience to emphasize. We also will post student members’ portfolios on the APSE website and encourage editors and students to talk several times throughout the school year.
 
Finally, we’ll ask each student member to write one story apiece for the website about a person or aspect of the business. This will
further provide practical experience for the students, strengthen content on the site and enable the student to get to know additional
editors through the reporting and interviewing process.
 
One idea is to sponsor an APSE writing contest for students — just in one category, feature writing — and to award the winner a plaque and post the winning story on the website. (Judging would be done online and at the end of the academic year). If we can get a critical mass of student members, that would be a great way for APSE to promote excellence in the craft.
 
So my next call is to Sam Strong, a sportswriter for UCLA’s Daily Bruin, who also happens to be a Utah native. I hear Sam will be home for spring break later this month, and I see a free lunch in his future.
 
Make it a point this month to contact a sports journalist from your university and establish that personal connection. Let’s see how many student journalists we can enroll by the time we meet again this summer in Chicago.
 
Michael A. Anastasi is President of APSE. He can be reached at
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