Sean Keeler of the Denver Post and Luke Zahlmann of The Gazette talk with writers and editors about feature writing tips during Wednesday's "How We Did It" session at the APSE Conference in Las Vegas.

By Alex Vejar / APSE Diversity Fellow

Awards may not be the main reason journalists get into the business. But work that gets hardware — and the journalists who do it — can provide glimpses into what it takes for a story to be truly resonant and impactful to communities large and small. 

Several journalists gave their insights into the work that won them APSE awards during the How We Did It: Examining the Best Work of 2022 panel discussion during the summer conference in Las Vegas. Incoming APSE president Naila-Jean Meyers, who is also the senior assistant sports editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, moderated the discussion. 

Some themes that came out of the discussion included access, coming up with story ideas and communication with editors. 

“Good reporting and good writing still takes time,” The Denver Post columnist Sean Keeler said. 

David Woods of the IndyStar and Jane Allison Havsy of the Daily Record said they like making lists of story ideas they try checking off over time. Amie Just of the Lincoln Journal Star said she mines media guides for nuggets about athletes, and constantly asks herself “why” and “how” about everything. Keeler asks his wife for advice to see what may be interesting to a more casual sports fan. 

Meyers also had a conversation with Washington Post reporter Ben Strauss, who covers sports and media. Strauss gave his opinion on metics, which has been a sometimes contentious topic of discussion in newsrooms over the last several years. 

“I think it’d be nice not to look at metrics and not think about that,” Strauss said. “But I do think it’s somewhat naive not to be aware of that. …  I think there’s a balance.” 

Strauss also touched on career advancement as a young journalist in this day and age and how news deserts affect sports coverage. 

Award-winning journalists and editors of all divisions broke out into small groups at the end of the session to field questions from attendees of the conference.