APSE takes another exciting step forward with the unveiling of its new Web site today.

But, before we look ahead, let’s reflect for just a moment.

APSE went online nearly 11 years ago with its first online newsletter. Hundreds of hard copies were still printed then and mailed to members; in fact, reverse publishing in those days meant that the print edition was created first, the stories stored on discs, mailed via U.S. Postal Service, then laboriously copied for use online.

The theme of that first edition, back in February 1999, was on industry changes in the coming decade. It focused on this newfangled technology called pagination — crazy! — and how it was revolutionizing newsrooms.

Then, beneath it all, there was a story by some young guy named Lynn Hoppes. He wrote about a future online.

“Newspapers shouldn’t think of themselves as newspapers but as dual-platform media in which employees work together to leverage both strengths and grow content, community and commerce,” Hoppes wrote, quoting an editor from SportingNews.com.

So here we are.

Starting APSE’s first Web site wasn’t easy. It took the vision, courage, conviction and strong support of then-President Bob Yates, who was able to convince his organization, the Dallas Morning News and its cutting-edge Web editors, to serve as our host.

Remember, at the time, most editors saw online at best as an ancillary tool for news reporting, not a replacement for the printed product. The technology left most people at home accessing the Web via slow, dial-up connections and there wasn’t of course the portability we take for granted today.

Chuck Grimes

That’s why the expertise of the folks in Dallas was so crucial. And that’s where the story of Chuck Grimes begins. 
Chuck’s been APSE’s webmaster since the beginning and his contributions to the organization can’t be overstated. I spoke with Chuck this week, and he was a bit wistful as his role, after all these years and all these advances, comes to an end.

But he nailed it.

“As I leave you now,” Chuck writes in a note to members, “I want to again remind you of what makes the site strong — YOUR contributions. Your stories, your photos, your ideas — keep them coming.”

APSE’s new site is hosted by Indiana University’s National Sports Journalism Center and will be the most visible cornerstone of our new partnership with the school.

You’ll notice the same basic site architecture and hierarchy but with a modern look. We now have the ability to more easily post video (check out both the sneak peak of the convention in Salt Lake City and President Garry Howard’s message) and we’ll have an impressive support system at the university. Our new webmaster is John Oehser, a veteran sports journalist who covered a variety of sports at the Florida Times-Union before focusing on the Web.

Most importantly, APSE officers now have the ability to directly post to the site themselves, which should mean more timely and robust content.

But, like Chuck said, what ultimately makes the site strong are your contributions — now, more than ever. APSE is here to help those who run sports journalism make it thrive, make it vibrant, make it invaluable. The organization is here to serve you.

If you have a suggestion for a story, a session, a feature or anything that might make you a better sports journalist, please shoot me or any of the officers a note. We’ll get it done.