By Bryan Carter
Sports Capital Journalism Program, IUPUI

Last year at this time we were still managing our way through the implications of Covid-19 and the widespread changes it brought to the world of sports media. While some areas of our professional and personal lives have returned to normal, we still find ourselves evolving and adapting to a myriad of technological, logistical, and personal challenges.

            At the APSE Summer Conference in Indianapolis, the general session “The New Normal” will address the changes, both positive and negative, that are here to stay and how things may look moving forward. How has the isolation of remote work taxed our mental health? And how has it affected diversity and young journalists in areas such as training, mentoring, networking and compensation? The session will take place on Thursday, June 16, at 10:30 a.m. in the Hine Hall Auditorium on the IUPUI campus. Panelists Jim Pignatiello of MassLive, Iliana Limón Romero of the Los Angeles Times and Emily Horos of The Arizona Republic will join moderator Jorge Rojas of The Athletic.

Jorge Rojas

            While it is easy to reminisce about the ways of the past, Rojas believes that many of the changes are positive and that the pandemic simply accelerated their implementation.

            “While the circumstances were tough and a lot of things were frustrating over the past two years, it’s not a bad thing to be working from home and learning new tricks, even if you’re not good at them,” he said. “I know that the tradeoff of not putting on a shirt and tie, commuting 50 minutes, making sure I’m in the office for the morning meeting, the noon meeting, the afternoon meeting, the bad useless meetings, and turning that into gas savings, dry cleaning savings, were all positives. The tradeoff is how to react digitally, how to respond properly, how to perform different tasks, and I think that affects everybody. Those technological things that affect our entire membership that affect reporters and editors across America— The New Normal will talk about some of those things, and maybe take stock of a before, during and after.”

            The tentacles of the pandemic were far-reaching and Rojas plans to guide the panelists into a variety of areas that have been impacted.

            “I definitely want to delve into where we stand diversity-wise in terms of training, hiring, promotions, mentoring, and even compensation,” Rojas said. “How much mentoring and training are out there? Have we taken a step forward or a step backward in terms of developing diverse candidates and compensating candidates who are ready to move up the ladder? He would definitely be an expert in sizing that up.”

            “Last year’s panel went in the direction of well-being and mental health amid everyone’s struggles during the pandemic. This one is kind of summarizing what we are left with and how we are achieving our respective missions day-to-day. Anything goes going into it and we’ll see what ends up carrying the day.”

            While the topics will be of a serious nature, Rojas expects the discussion to be both enlightening and enjoyable.

            “I will be self-deprecating and I will be the example of the old fuddy-duddy who is constantly tripping up but learning in the process and trying to stay positive amid all the changes,” he said. “We’ll try to keep it fun and I think it will be pretty relevant. I’d be surprised if everyone in attendance can’t relate in some form to their jobs and some of the changes that they’ve gone through in a relatively short period of time. They can either commiserate or collaborate and figure out how they are doing in the overall scheme of things.”

            “Ultimately we’ll talk about what the audience wants to talk about. Wherever it leads to, we’ll adjust.”