Double Tree by Hilton, Orlando, Fla.

Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022

President Gary Potosky calls the meeting to order at 4:07 p.m. and introduces first vice president Jorge Rojas, second vice president Naila Meyers, third vice president Ed Reed, executive director Bill Eichenbeger and conference coordinator Glen Crevier.

Past presidents

  • Lisa Wilson, The Athletic (2020-21)
  • Bill Eichenberger, now Las Vegas Review-Journal then Newsday (2003-04)
  • Glen Crevier, then The Star Tribune of Minneapolis (2005-06)
  • John Bednarowski, Marietta Daily Journal (2018-19)
  • Todd Adams, then Raleigh News and Observer (2019-20)
  • Jim Jenks, then The Philadelphia Inquirer (2006-07)
  • Tommy Deas, then Tuscaloosa News 

Region representatives

Northeast: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. (Lisa Wilson)

Atlantic Coast: North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, West Virginia (Justin Pelletier)

Southeast: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virgin Islands (John Bednowski)

Great Lakes: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin. (Naila Meyers)

Great Plains: Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma. (–)

Southwest: New Mexico, Texas. (Maria McIlwain)

Northwest: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming.  (Paul Barrett)

West: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah.  (Christopher Boan)

Representing the Associated Press: Barry Bedlan, Oscar Dixon

Finances and budget update (Bill Eichenberger)

Please wear your badges throughout the conference.

Especially with the year we’ve been through, we are on budget. We raised membership dues last year. We raised $40,420; budget was $40,000. We didn’t get any complaints about the increase in dues. This has been an undervalued organization for years and we have been trying to improve that.

More good news: As far as we know, no one got COVID at our Las Vegas convention. We were very economical there with a bill of $52,570. 

Our overall funds are $84,994.22, with 32,015.92 of that in a mutual fund. 

Membership up over last year, after four years in a row of decline. Overall membership went up to 314 from 299. Primary members went up to 175 from 170. The numbers are a little skewed because student members pay their dues to their chapter, not to APSE. We added two student chapters recently: North Carolina A&T and Northwestern.

Conference update (Glen Crevier)

Attendees should receive a 50% discount on parking, and food vouchers for breakfast and one drink ticket for the bar. 

The wifi password is APSE22.

There is a cocktail party Sunday night and another one Tuesday night at 6:30 outside near the pool. 

Hospitality room is the Cyprus Room by the pool. Chris Boan has been volunteered to be the hospitality chair. Donate funds to the cause either in person or via Venmo.

We have five small rooms available for judging, mostly on the first floor.  

The summer conference June 15-18 in Indianapolis at Alexander Hotel downtown. Sessions at IUPUI hosted by Malcolm Moran. Transportation to campus will be provided. 

Diversity (A. Sherrod Blakely)

Gary recognized the diversity fellows: Em Poertner (present), Mauro Diaz, JT Keith, Sarah Kelly, Maria McIlwain (present). We expect all of them at judging this week. 

Sherrod is not present. Gary: Sherrod has done a lot of work on diversity pledge since the summer. The pledge was renamed the APSE Diversity Pledge to avoid confusion with other entities and we added a feedback component about what lessons we learned so we can greater affect how this turns out and evaluate the process. We have been publishing free ads after publications go through Sherrod’s interview process.

APSE Foundation (John Bednarowski)

We have created a 501(3c), which is up and running as we get past Covid. The foundations has raised nearly $40,000; contributors include National Football Foundation, MLB, Gannett, McClatchy, APSE, Tennessean, other APSE members.

The foundation has created an independent logo. A website currently being constructed with hopes of linking it to the parent organization to highlight mission and accept donations.

If there are any questions about the foundation this week or the diversity fellowship, summer convention and more, John Bednarowski and Lisa Wilson, members of the foundation board, are at judging.

Mo’s cookies have arrived and are in the contest room.

Committee Reports (Gary Potosky)

We will save the Contest for the very end, since that is the main purpose of our gathering. Thank you to Jorge for the immense amount of work he is doing to put this together. 

Tommy Deas: Thai Night committee report. We need to meet in the lobby at 6:30 Monday night. We are going to Coco Thai. They only have two servers available. If you can order ahead of time, you can send it to Tommy. That might expedite the process. If we have time afterward, there is a mini golf course nearby that has live alligators.Justin Pelletier is the mini golf committee chair. 

Erik Hall: Wednesday night a group plans to go to the UCF men’s basketball game vs. Cincinnati. Tickets are $6-$20 depending on where you sit. Talk to Erik if you are interested in going.  

Committee Reorg plan (Gary Potosky)

  • APSE’s committee structure is changing. Last year at the close of the summer conference, there were 16 committees. There are now 7.
  • Reason 1: Many committees were essentially committees of one who were already reporting directly to national officers. Representatives of those tasks – revenue, commissioners, Red Smith among them – will continue to report to national officers
  • Reason 2: Many committees had overlapping goals and workflows, so we combined them into two larger committee structures, and each of those has a chair. 
    • Retained committees: Diversity (Sherrod Blakely), Contest (1st VP), Legal Affairs (Ahern/Sherway), Olympics (Roxanna Scott), Conference (President) 
    • Officers, not committees: Revenue (Tommy Deas), Red Smith (Rachel Crader), Website (2nd VP), Commissioners (Hank Winnicki)
    • New Committees
      • Membership Committee (purpose is to grow and retain membership): Jason Murray will head this group, which includes former independent committees Grassroots (3rd VP Ed Reed), Newsletter (Jake Adams), Regions (Mike Kates), Futures (Jason Murray).
      • Career Advancement Committee (purpose is to build the foundation for future APSE leadership): Lisa Wilson will head this group, which includes writers, mentorship, student chapters and contest, scholarship, and her own newly launched programming.
    • Jason and Lisa have reports on these new committees, gathered from their work since August and working with individuals who are heading up these efforts
    • These committees continue to do the granular but important work throughout the year of keeping APSE on a track to permanent success, and we encourage anyone in the organization to volunteer to help in any ways they can, big or small. It all helps.

Membership Committee (Jason Murray)

  • Futures: Working to create an onboard process for new members who join as well as contacts they can reach out to know more about the APSE process (volunteers welcome). On a smaller note, also hoping to leverage the contest and make sure we’re telling everyone who finds those pages with contest winners (on social and the website) here’s how you join APSE and have a chance to enter the contest (right now it looks like the join APSE links aren’t working on 2021 results pages). 
  • Grassroots (Ed Reed). 58members in D, one-fifth didn’t enter contest. How do we make contest more accessible to them? How do we get them involved? Make participation more realistic for them? 
  • Newsletter (from Jake Adams): The newsletter has around 157 subscribers, including APSE members and student chapters. We’ve held a relatively steady 50-60% open rate. There are still some issues with the newsletter being blocked by inboxes or sent to spam, which one day we hope to fix once we can get the newsletter attached to the APSE domain (it’s currently a GMail account). Lindsey Smith continues great design work, and Jason has done a great job trying to round up stories to feature every month. I’m taking a short hiatus as I consider possible changes to the format, whether it be straight news updates, featuring more or fewer stories each month or what storytelling we should do. Anyone interested in subscribing should email me at Anyone who would like to help write, produce or contribute ideas can also email me. We’re always looking for volunteers. 
  • Regions (Michael Kates): The Southwest Region is planning a student-focused meeting via Zoom tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. April 11. They are eyeing a regular region in mid-to-late May. … Other regions should be planning spring in-person gatherings if possible, and definitely virtual region meetings if not. It’s important that we gather and keep interest up. Gary has sent a “how to region” doc to all region leaders.

Career advancement Committee (Lisa Wilson)

This mostly a student report: We are up to 10 chapters. We have had three sessions with them since summer conference. One session on getting an internship, Q&A with Kimberley Martin of ESPN, and Mark Carig of The Athletic spoke about building professional relationships and his career. We have been uploading the sessions to our YouTube channel. The next one in the spring on resume writing and critique. I’ll be recruiting people to help with that. Planning to do on applying for scholarships and entering the student contest. Ending the school year with a “How we did it?” session for students to talk about stories they were proud of.

May 15 is the deadline for scholarship. We are able to award six last year and this year. 

Next mentorship class is going to be in place by the end of March. If you are interested in mentor/mentee, let Lisa Wilson know. In-person meetings are no longer a requirement. 

I spoke to Joey Chandler about writers events. We are trying to get that going over the spring. 

Erik: Deadline for student contest is April 9. 

Commissioners (Hank Winnicki)

Gary: We thank Hank for taking over this position from Jeff Rosen. I did this for four years, it’s quite a puzzle. Hank is working with the leagues, who have seemed open to the idea of restarting the gatherings. However, no commitments from the leagues or APSE. More information to come in the next few months.

If there are commissioners meetings, they will be over two days in New York City in April or May, so take a look at your calendars to see if that fits.

Legal affairs and ethics (Gerry Ahern and John Cherwa)

Discussion with Gerry recently, there are a few things that will come up from this committee that will be important to the next few months.

  • The NCAA tournament is next month, and we will be looking for representatives from each of the regionals to be APSE liaisons for media access, credentials, and other issues. This program has been in place for a number of years and has been very helpful. 
    • This year’s sites: San Antonio, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco
  • Also, as we discussed in Las Vegas, we will look to create a liaison group within this committee to work directly with the writers groups on access issues as conditions around the pandemic change over time. My goal is to have this fully in place by the summer conference, operating under this committee’s leadership.

Olympics (Roxanna Scott)

No update, but I will ask Roxanna to share some thoughts that could be helpful to members in our next newsletter. 

Red Smith (Rachel Crader)

  • The nominating process for this year’s Red Smith Award is delayed from our usual schedule as we transitioned from Jack Berninger to Rachel Crader leading this effort. 
  • Outstanding issues we are hoping to resolve include: who is eligible to vote and how do we make sure we have updated contact information for these voters? Last year barely half of the eligible voter list participated in the voting and we are aspiring to grow that percentage a lot. Rachel is rebuilding the database of eligible voters but there are still some issues to work out with that, so we are behind our normal schedule. The new schedule will be as follows:
    • Call for nominations will go out to members by Feb. 28
    • Last day to send nominations to Rachel: March 15
    • Voting: March 16-April 1
    • Winner is announced: April 7
  • Leon Carter, Tom Boswell, Bill Plaschke, Bill Lyon, Mark Wicker finished second through sixth in last year’s voting, won by Sally Jenkins, so they will be automatically renominated. Others nominated last year need to be renominated if they didn’t finish 2-6. 
  • If you believe you are eligible to vote for the Red Smith, and you have not received a ballot in recent years, or you know of someone else or suspect someone else might be in the same situation, reach out to Rachel – – or to me before next year’s vote and we’ll make sure you receive a ballot.

Revenue (Tommy Deas)

Last summer was a challenge in finding sponsorship for the Las Vegas conference. I’m optimistic we can do better than that this year. AP on board, National Football Foundation. We are pursuing several more. We are approaching past sponsors and reaching out to new ones, both in Indy and nationally. Giving USFL a try. The goal is $50,000.  

Website/social (Naila Meyers)

The APSE website is in a constant state of evaluation, figuring out its mission, building out a communication apparatus. We need to improve the back-end and coordinate with social/newsletter, etc. Thank you to Erik Hall and Phil Kaplan for keeping up our social media accounts. Good to have YouTube channel. Need to figure out how best to use it. Looking for ideas for our website, the right program to use, and recommendations for programs who could be a webmaster. Rebuilding the website is expensive.  

Old business: 

  • There has been no discussion since August regarding how websites are accepted as members vs. newspapers. This is a timeless issue, so if a member, group of members, or existing committee has a specific proposal in mind that can begin a substantive discussion toward changing these rules, please send them along to Jason Murray as head of the Membership Committee, or the national officers. For now, the best outreach in that area is Gary. After Indianapolis of course, Jorge will be that person.
  • Making the national conference more accessible to smaller members. If you can offer suggestions, please work with Ed Reed, our third VP, and Jason, to bring forward some specific ideas in this area that can be actionable.
  • APSE Slack, have you joined? Reach out and we’ll share the details with you.

New business:

  • Erik Hall: Not many people in this room today, that we were used to. Idea to bring people back for winter conference in-person. APSE Sports Editors Hall of Fame as an incentive to bring people. Wanted to let it germinate. Separate it from Red Smith Award. Make winter conference a draw. Have it opening night.  
    • Chris Boan: Move Berninger Award to winter. 
    • Scott Thurston: Make Red Smith winners automatic members
  • Gary: Other ways to make the winter conference more sustainable. Even though judging it the majority of what we do here, the interpersonal relationships, the networking, the learning from what other people are doing in their newsrooms are really valuable. It has affected a lot of people’s careers in this room and those who are on their way here and who used to come here. The alternative is to have one time a year when we meet. I think that’s going backwards. That can’t help sustain membership. Keeping the winter meeting going, we start there. We’re committed for two more years. Career advancement committee is newly formed, but it’s looking at future leadership. What will they have to lead? We can’t do this all over Zoom. 
  • Chris Boan: Finding some time with newsmakers. Breakout for workshops, Q&A w/ newsmakers.
  • Mike Szvetitz: The most important times in my career have been in judging. A lot have happened right here. We have a mentorship program; my guy Jake Adams in blowing up. I just hired Gerry Ahern. If there’s a way we could get young editors/writers, or experienced who have never had a chance to be in a room with other people. Mentor night.
  • John Bednarowski: Need nominations for second vice president. All regional presidents eligible. Ed Reed automatically eligible. Need third VP election too. We have until March 15 to nominate. This meeting will be the beginning of the process. Must be nominated by an executive committee member. 
  • Need a vice chair for Great Plains. 

Contest (Jorge Rojas)

Where we are … 40 onsite judges, 80 remote judges. We hope to get the results done by Wednesday night but not promises. We’re doing OK now with 14 of the initial Top 10s in 39 categories and eight out being re-ranked. There are four sections that don’t need re-ranking. We probably won’t start posting results until sometime Monday.

I think the judging assignments shouldn’t be too hard. Because we didn’t have enough judges, nobody is going to have to read 252 columns. I’d say you are going to have a fairly easy ride, but I’m still afraid there might be some cranky remote groups out there. But as long as we don’t get inundated by a lot of leftover re-rankings we should be OK.

Action/Feature Photos won’t be announced until after the AP judges return from Beijing.

I know I ruined the surprise, but if you want, I can still introduce the judging groups and then give you some general observations …. 

Judging groups


Chair: Bill Eichenberger, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Maria McIlwain, Houston Chronicle

George Diaz, Orlando-based columnist/author


Long Feature

Chair: Todd Adams, USA Today Network Ventures

Barry Bedlan, Associated Press,

Mike Szvetitz, Richmond Times-Dispatch


Chair: Michael Phillps, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Nick Pugliese, Palm Beach Post

Christopher Boan,


Chair: JT Keith, Life N Sports

Tommy Deas, USA Today Network

Justin Pelletier, McClatchy


Chair: Glen Crevier, APSE conference coordinator

Jim Pignatiello, The Republican / MassLive

Em Poertner, USA Today Network


Long Feature

Chair: Iliana Limon Romero, Los Angeles Times

Scott Thurston, The Boston Globe

Sarah Kelly, Sports Illustrated


Chair: Shemar Woods, Sports Illustrated

Paul Barrett, The Seattle Times

Dani Medina, iHeartRadio


Chair: Katie McInerney, The Boston Globe

John Bednarowski, Marietta Daily Journal

Jeffrey Perkins,


Chair:  Jason Murray, The Washington Post

Chris Stone, Los Angeles Times

Shelly Darby, Gainesville Sun


Long Feature

Chair: Lydia Craver, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jim Jenks, Perfect Game USA

Mike Huguenin,

Projects (Divisions C and D)

Chair: Peter Barzilai, USA Today Sports

Kevin Manahan, NJ Advance Media

Joe Battaglia, FloSports

Daily (Divisions C and D)

Chair: Erik Hall, USA Today Network

Mauro Diaz,

Mark Cooper, The Athletic

Sunday (Divisions C and D)

Chair: Perryn Keys, The Advocate/New Orleans Times-Picayune

J Michael, Orlando Sentinel

Andre Fernandez, Miami Herald


Long Feature

Chair: Kelley Evans, The Undefeated

Oscar Dixon, The Associated Press

Mike Huguenin,

Projects (Divisions C and D)

Chair: Peter Barzilai, USA Today Sports

Kevin Manahan, NJ Advance Media

Joe Battaglia, FloSports

Daily (Categories C and D)

Chair: Erik Hall, USA Today Network

Mauro Diaz,

Mark Cooper, The Athletic

Sunday (Divisions C and D)

Chair: Perryn Keys, The Advocate/New Orleans Times-Picayune

J Michael, Orlando Sentinel

Andre Fernandez, Miami Herald

Entry totals:

Division A — Breaking News: 74; Long Feature: 68; Short Feature: 65; Explanatory: 66; Beat writing: 62; Columns: 63; Event coverage: 28; Projects: 26; Digital: 28; Daily: 21; Sunday: 19; Sports Action Photo: 45; Sports Feature Photo: 43; Investigative: 24

Division B — Breaking News: 69; Long Feature: 64; Short Feature: 70; Explanatory: 61; Beat writing: 62; Columns: 54; Event coverage: 29; Projects: 21; Digital: 24; Daily: 24; Sunday: 25; Sports Action Photo: 53; Sports Feature Photo: 54.

Division C — Breaking News: 40; Long Feature: 57; Short Feature: 53; Explanatory: 38; Beat writing: 41; Columns: 28; Game stories: 48; Event coverage: 17; Projects: 13; Digital: 19; Daily: 19; Sunday: 16; Special sections: 10; Sports Action Photo: 34; Sports Feature Photo: 30.

Division D — Breaking News: 31; Long Feature: 39′ Short Feature: 45; Explanatory: 29; Beat writing: 26; Columns: 21; Game stories: 44; Event coverage: 17; Projects: 7; Digital: 12; Daily: 6; Sunday: 5; Special: 9; Sports Action Photo: 22; Sports Feature Photo: 19

Judging: It wasn’t easy getting judges and it’s been hard keeping them. We hope and expect to see a lot more attend next year in person once the pandemic hopefully subsides. We think the best model is a hybrid of remote and in-person judging, but more of a 50-50 ratio than the 80 remote, 40 onsite arrangement we have this year. We’ve also learned that remote judging, while convenient travel-wise, can be a royal pain when juggling family, work and life responsibilities. That said, I’m happy where we ended up. Overall, we are an experienced — and diverse – group, and I combed over the categories and judging assignments pretty tightly to try to avoid any appearance of bias. Those things, however, are tough to avoid in some cases, so I urge you to do you professional best and call them like you see them. That’s really all anybody wants.

Writing divisions: As strong as ever. Some great entries. Despite the pandemic, it’s been a pretty big year in sports and around them, and the stories entered reflect that.

Sections: (transition or glitches?) In the higher divisions, the numbers are holding steady, although you can detect that some entities that traditionally entered are blowing it off. That could be because of archive/e-edition issues, which is increasingly becoming an issue. We had a lot fewer sections entered in the C/D, which is disappointing because it’s a key reason we made Daily a Triple Crown category. Is it time to get rid of mandatories?

Format: Some changes we could, and in some cases should consider ….

An open division? … Determining whether it’s worth opening up the contest to individual entries, and doing a financial analysis to find the right price point, so that small publications wouldn’t pull out and enter individually. The contest remains very popular. Like in many industries (which charge a lot more – advertising, marketing, PR etc.), people want to see the best work recognized. There are a lot of reporters and sports photographers, for that matter, who would pay to enter their work, perhaps in an open division.

A Power 5 Division? Gannett vs. McClatchy vs. Lee vs. Alden Global Capitalists? Is there a regional way to allow chains to enter group projects? It’s tricky.

We need to continue to move the contest forward by fine-tuning print, digital and writing categories. I like the idea of revolving the writing categories, but that will be up to the contest chair each year.

Event Coverage – It has potential. It needs refining, perhaps only three or four entries. We can look more closely at the time period. But I saw some good entries, and we averaged around 23 overall in the four divisions. 

Digital – We need more entries. All it takes is five links that show impact, creativity engagement. Not sure why more publications aren’t entering it: 45 last year, 78 entries this year after being rebuilt. 

Passwords/Paywalls: It was eye-opening at first, but everyone has been patient. We talked about it today, and though we probably all need to do better at troubleshooting passwords, we are hopeful that time might help solve some of the paywall glitches we’ve encountered. Thanks to all the judges for helping us work through it. I think Ed is working on a cheat sheet we can circulate to judges.

Contest Central is Room 111. We have several rooms available to use for judging: Windermere Room, Royal Palm Room, Radcliffe Board Room, Bay Lake Room, Cypress (hospitality room)

Paul Barrett: 

  • Are we done with special sections in A/B. Jorge: It’s a yearly thing. What we’ve seen is C/D, not as many special sections as we would like. Those that were entered were pretty special. One open division for special sections. Or A/B and C/D. I don’t think they’re dead just yet. Daily/Sunday are so low, we should be looking at what’s special. Didn’t get many complaints about removing them from A/B.  
  • Are we always going to have a writing category determining triple crown/grand slam? Jorge: We want to gradually move to more digital content. We could have blown up print division, but didn’t. Argument to have print, digital, and 1 writing for triple crown. Projects, in view of the entries, may not have been the right grand slam category. Anastasi called us out saying the contest was too print centric. 

Motion to adjourn: John Bednarowksi

Second: Chris Boan 

Meeting ends at 5:34 p.m.


Gary Potosky, APSE president

Jorge Rojas, APSE first Vice President

Naila-Jean Meyers, APSE second Vice President

Ed Reed, APSE third Vice President

Bill Eichenberger, APSE executive director

Glen Crevier, APSE conference coordinator

Jim Pignatiello, MassLive

Christopher Boan,

John Bednarowski, Marietta Daily Journal

Lisa Wilson, The Athletic

Scott Thurston, Boston Globe

Justin Pelletier, Raleigh News and Observer

Mike Szvetitz, Front Page Bets/Lee/Richmond

Maria McIlwain, Houston Chroncile

Jeffrey Perkins,

Em Poertner, USA Today Network

Jim Jenks, Perfect Game

Malcolm Moran, IUPUI

Erik Hall, USA Today Network

Todd Adams, USA Today Network Ventures

Barry Bedlan, The Associated Press

Oscar Dixon, The Associated Press

Paul Barrett, The Seattle Times

Tommy Deas, USA Today Network – South Region

Nick PUgliese, Gannett Florida

Dani Medina, iHeart Radio

Mark Cooper, The Athletic

J. Michael, Orlando Sentinel

Katie McInerney, Boston Globe