Doubletree Hotel at Disney Springs, Orlando, Florida

Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023

President Jorge Rojas calls the meeting to order at 11:02 a.m. and introduces First Vice President Naila-Jean Meyers, Second Vice President Dan Spears, Third Vice President Ed Reed and Executive Director Bill Eichenberger. Conference coordinator Glen Crevier left earlier in the week. 

Past presidents in attendance

  • Gary Potosky, Philadelphia Inquirer (2021-22)
  • John Bednarowski, Marietta Daily Journal (2018-19)
  • Tommy Deas, then Tuscaloosa News (2016-17)
  • Phil Kaplan, then Knoxville News Sentinel (2010-11)
  • Bill Eichenberger, then Newsday (2003-04)

Past presidents, please make time to do a video with Erik Hall if you haven’t already.

Region representatives

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

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

Southeast: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virgin Islands (Perryn Keys)

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

Great Plains: Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma (Erik Hall) 

Southwest: New Mexico, Texas. (Jamie Hancock)

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

West: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah. (Bill Eichenberger) 

Representing the Associated Press: Barry Bedlan, Oscar Dixon 

Jorge: Thank you to all of our in-person judges, hope you have an enjoyable time. I came here with my doubts about this place, but I have to say that while it’s not getting any younger, the setup is nice and the weather always delivers.

Committee Reports

Finances and budget update (Bill Eichenberger)

Nothing new to report. 

APSE conference update (Glen Crevier)

Las Vegas conference at the Flamingo is scheduled for July 9-12. We have been told that the rooms have been renovated since we were there in 2021. Awards dinner will be on the final night.

We are still seeking ideas for conference workshops and sessions. See us with your suggestions.

Thai Night and mini-golf

Thanks to Tommy Deas for another great Thai Night at Coco Thai. There were 22 in attendance. Tommy had curry.

Justin: We held our annual APSE Mini Golf Tournament at Lost Caverns Mini Golf following Thai Night. 

A record 15 golfers braved the difficult 18-hole layout, including all five Diversity Fellows.  

The results: 

  • In the team competition, the group of Naila Meyers, Jim Pignatiello, Perryn Keys, Erik Hall and Justin Pelletier earned a win with a total combined score of 269, five shots better than the grouping of Gary “Ace” Potosky, Ed Reed, Tommy Dees, Maria McIlwain and “Jeffy Pockets” Perkins (274).
  • In the individual competition, in a blatant conspiracy, event organizer Justin Pelletier edged Alex Vejar, who had consecutive holes-in-one, by 1 stroke.
  • Most holes-in-one: Alex Vejar (2). Best nine-hole score: Alex (22, front nine); Justin (22, back nine).
  • Top five finishers: 1. Justin Pelletier (49); 2. Alex Vejar (50); T3. Ed Reed, Perryn “Canada” Keys (51); T5. Gary “Ace” Potosky and Jeff “Pockets” Perkins (52).

We look forward to our next event in Las Vegas!

Revenue (Deas) 

No update. We’re off to a good start on sponsorships for the 2023 Summer Conference in Las Vegas. 

Elections (Jorge Rojas)

Second Vice President Election

We have four chairs, three are officially outgoing and the other, Erik Hall, will be handing over Southeast Region duties to John Devine after the Southeast Region meeting on April 17. Marcus Vanderberg, Monica Holland and Carlos Silva are automatically eligible to run. Those three aren’t here and I’ll be contacting them.

Because Erik is leaving his post early and there is a bylaw issue, we’re putting up Erik for nomination. Would anyone like to nominate Erik? Does anyone else have someone they would like to nominate?

  • Erik Hall, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, nominated by Tommy Deas. Erik accepts.
  • Justin Pelletier, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), nominated by John Bednarowski. Justin has said he will accept.
  • Emily Horos, The Arizona Republic, nominated by Phil Kaplan. Emily has said she will accept.
  • Paul Barrett, The Seattle Times, nominated by Barry Bedlan. Paul accepts.

APSE Foundation (Jorge Rojas)

Nothing new to report. Looks like the Fellows fit in perfectly and had a good time, as well as successful runs as group chairs. Thanks for all your help in welcoming them. 

Diversity (A. Sherrod Blakely)

Nothing new to report.

Membership Committee (Jason Murray)

Nothing new to report.

Regions (Michael Kates/Gary Potosky): 

Jorge – We’ve talked a good amount about regions and we still have a little time to hear ideas. There have been some great ones, including some radical changes, we’ll consider. My view hasn’t really changed in that if/when we do pursue a new structure, a logical move would be to scale back to Southeast, Northeast, Midwest and West, that maybe we appoint a region conference coordinator role for APSE – who could help set up Zoom meetings, or any gatherings etc – and that region chairs/vice chairs remain in place to represent APSE on news matters, to recruit new APSE members, and to align with colleges and student chapters in their regions. 

Gary – If you know anyone in your part of the country that would be willing to take on a region leadership position, please send to me, Michael or Jason. No matter how many regions or positions we have, everyone can help.

Jorge – You can attend any meeting, if you can. If there’s an in-person meeting, I’m of the belief that they’re great. I’ve seen good meetings in person. The potential is still there. I don’t want to give up on them.

—- Newsletter/President videos (Jorge Rojas/Erik Hall): 

Need two volunteers to work with Jake Adams and Lindsey Smith in the writing/reporting/planning of lead stories for the newsletter. 

Jorge to the Diversity Fellows: Would you be willing to be Jake’s contributors/assistants for the rest of your time? Damon Sayles and Kelly Ward have said they will be in for sure.

Need at least one volunteer to help Erik Hall on APSE president interviews – TBA

—- Grassroots (Ed Reed): Nothing new to report.

Commissioners (Hank Winnicki)

Waiting to hear back from a couple of leagues. But it looks like we might have it April 24-25 (on Monday and Tuesday). 

Jorge: I encourage everyone with a pro market team to try to attend. It will be informative and fun.

Legal affairs and ethics (Malcolm Moran)

Nothing new to report.

Olympics (Roxanna Scott)

Nothing new to report.

A group from APSE met with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee on Feb. 14 in Chicago to help decide the credential allocation for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. This was the first time APSE met with USOPC since before the pandemic.

More than 300 media credentials to more than 120 news outlets. The next step in the process is that editors should receive confirmation from the USOPC if you have been awarded credentials. This fall the USOPC will start collecting names, passport numbers and personal information for the credentials.

Red Smith Award (Rachel Crader)

Voting is expected to open this week. Eligible to vote are Red Smith Award winners, APSE past presidents, APSE national officers, 10-year APSE members and alumni members who belonged to APSE for at least 15 years. 

The five people who finished behind Leon Carter in last year’s voting automatically are nominated for this year’s award. They are Bill Plaschke, Tom Boswell, Mark Whicker, Dan Shaughnessy and Bill Lyon. 

TIDES report (Jorge Rojas)

We didn’t see the UCF folks from TIDES (The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports) conducting another racial and gender report card for APSE. But that’s OK, we were all quite busy. This is an important initiative for APSE, especially coming off the pandemic, and participation from all of our members is key. Please take the time to respond accurately to the surveys. The report is expected to be released in September and will keep APSE current on its two-year schedule. We appreciate your making an effort to respond.

Career advancement (Lisa Wilson)

Nothing new to report.

The APSE mentorship pairings for 2023:

Mentor: Roxanna Scott (USA TODAY). Mentee: Alexis Cubit (Louisville Courier-Journal)

Mentor: Tyler Batiste (The Athletic). Mentee: Myer Turner (St. Augustine Record)

Mentor: Naila-Jean Meyers (Star Tribune). Mentee: Michael Niziolek (

Mentor: Jim Pignatiello (MassLive/The Republican). Mentee: Nick Kelly (Tuscaloosa News)

Mentor: John Murphy (Century Newspapers). Mentee: Jeff Perkins (San Antonio Express-News)

If anybody is interested in being paired with a mentor, or if you want to be a mentor, please see Lisa Wilson (

Student contest (Iliana Limon Romero)

Iliana Limón Romero is taking over supervising the student contest. She is looking for help encouraging students to enter the contest ahead of the Saturday, April 8, deadline. Iliana also needs judges, it would help a ton to have a few more volunteers. You will have about four weeks to evaluate candidates. Email her at

Writer liaisons manager (Jorge Rojas w/input from Gerry Ahern)

We’re looking for a volunteer to find liaisons and assign them to the different writers groups. It’s basically a liaison to each of the writers groups – pro football, pro basketball, BBWA, pro hockey, college football, college basketball and soccer. We have had this before but it fell by the wayside. Do I have a volunteer? Fine, I’ll find someone in the coming days.

Naila: If you have a representative to any of those organizations on your staff, talk to them if they could be a good person in this role.

Malcolm: In the past APSE has had a person at each site of the NCAA tournament in case there are problems. 

Naila: For women, too? (Don’t believe so)

Jorge: I think that’s been 4 years or so now. Even without that, we need to have someone in position to take action. We’re having issues at conference tournaments; with these liaisons in place we could have gotten in front of this more quickly.

We can find people through our sites for the men’s tournaments and women’s super regionals, but probably not all on-campus sites.

Conventions (Iliana Limon Romero, Tommy Deas/Sherrod Blakely, Naila Meyers, Erik Hall)

Nothing new to report.

Surveys (Jorge Rojas)

There will be one coming for dues, dues structure. Look for that in early April. 

Website/social (Dan Spears)

Nothing new to report.

Old business

No old business.

New business

Student chapters (Jorge Rojas)

It’s important that we push to increase our efforts over the next four months. I’m counting on region chairs, officers and members to identify close to two-dozen college chapters for membership before the start of the fall. Our goal is 20. (We currently have 10 active, with one dormant). There’s interest, we just haven’t picked up the phone. Cheap $100 for advisor or $25 for student. Something we should do and haven’t done.

Naila: What does “active” mean in that context? Are they as active as we want them to be? We need growth, we also need to support those we already have.

Contest (Naila-Jean Meyers)

Thanks so much to everyone for your work. We have 3 categories still out with remote groups and hope to have them wrapped up by today or tomorrow so all top 10s will be out by the end of the week. Second-reads are out there and we could use some volunteers to bring this home, if you want to read some more.

Thanks to Ed, Dan and Jorge for all their work in the contest room. And second-judging groups, thanks for finding a couple of errors. That isn’t easy and we had to do disqualify entries, but you’re good judges and that showed.

Tommy: I’d like to thank the contest runners, and Naila. So much of the work takes place before we get here and it’s as smooth as I’ve ever seen it. 

Sherrod: Does there need to be a parameter set on podcasts that are part of a package. You read 4 stories and a 35-minute podcast. Do we need to create guidelines for this. …. Newsletters/Substacks? What is their future with us?

Naila: Podcasts are a part of it. We can’t ignore them. We are not at the place as judges to be good at judging audio. Did loosen ability to submit podcast but limited to 1 or 2 one or two. One judge had 3-hour video podcast, but suggested don’t watch it all, get a sense of it and whether it should rank. (Jorge: I got rid of them, now we’re at ‘Please just enter two.’).  Podcast has to be the person, not a team of people for beat writing.

Sherrod: The podcasts I had to listen to were repetitive to the writing, it’s not additional information. Do we need a part of the rules that says it’s not a spoken word repetition of your story, essentially.

Barry: If you’re breaking news, wouldn’t you write that story anyway?

Naila: Enter the audio or enter the story. We see this coming up in beat writing, project, explanatory and as supplemental material. We specified that video series were in projects and that was it. Charlotte asked about their entry. We are going to have to refine where audio goes, if it’s supplemental vs. one of the main pieces. It’s not across the board, but it’s got to be there. 

Naila: Substacks. I wasn’t sure where they’d go, were they in the right division? If you look at the results, they did OK, but they didn’t dominate in the D Division. Does it mean they stay there? I don’t know. But they didn’t take all the awards. 

Alex Vejar: Is it too soon to make podcasts their own category? 

Naila: We talked about that, we may have to think about making them own category, but we’ll have to recruit judges for that. Maybe it’s hard, maybe not. We haven’t done it yet. Digital judges recruited for expertise. We already have a lot of categories in contest, maybe too many, and if we add any, something has to go away. This is a writing contest and at some point, all the multimedia, someone else has to judge that. I don’t want to do that because it could cut off a lot of what we do. Maybe we need to refocus ourselves on writing but a lot of writing contests out there, so maybe we can distinguish ourselves with variety.

Erik: The reality show in our submissions. There wasn’t guidance on non-traditional “journalism.” … There’s nothing that even says about the quality of journalism in our instructions. We could use that line in there.

Naila: Documentaries would be allowed. And judges can decide to keep or get rid of any content. It’s part of being a judge.

Oskar Garcia: I think explanatory could be more focused and communicated. So many different things were in there. Felt like editors put things in to see if it would stick, others just kinda put things in there. Even our judging group had different ideas of what “explanatory” meant.

Jorge: It’s been that way for 20 years (haha). Whether it was enterprise, explanatory or whatever you call it, and it might be something else in the future.

Naila: People say that’s the first category (explanatory) to drop when it comes up.

Oskar: I think we keep it. It was good writing. I think sharpening it a bit. It can’t be a story you turned around in a day, that was our disagreement.

Naila: What I added to the description was that it’s a good place for data journalism.

Gary: Sometimes a story is more data vs. explanatory. But where else would you put it. That’s a category that might grow, could bring that language in. Maybe that could take away some of that uncertainty. For me, explanatory must get to a conclusion. If you have that data story, put it here. It’s my favorite.

Naila: One of those “you know when you see it” categories. 

Gary: The best ones always have great journalism.

Oskar: I think you could tighten the number of entries in some categories. In beat writing, you have an idea through 3 pieces. That fifth one was a killer sometimes. We love the work we do, we could choose. … Columns down to 3? Projects is a storyline and a story or two?

Naila: One judge gave an example: Someone entered a project, and the first piece would have won by itself, but more stuff hurt them. Investigative: Several finalists only entered one story and the rest was supplemental. Is your best content the whole set or just the main story. What’s required reading and what is not? That’s for editors to determine.

Oskar: This was in portfolio too. You knew what you were looking at after the first couple of PDFs.

Naila: If we cut the portfolio down, do you lose mandatories?

Scott Thurston: I think you keep the mandatories. Without them, you would just get a bunch of Sundays. For our group, the other wild card was the other mandatory Sunday.

Naila: We started at 5 items for portfolio … we took the special section out because it was thought it could be an advantage. We had 55 special sections entered this year. We had a number of problems recently, but we held that off this year. There were almost as many special sections as portfolios. 

Kelly Ward: I agree that you keep the mandatories. Lets you see the day to day. It shows a baseline, not the ceiling.

Jorge: Any other thoughts? I asked editors if they preferred the old way or the new way with print (Daily/Sunday vs. Portfolio)? And he said the old way because they would do better, but if there were other comments.

Perryn: I would say my organization would do better but I dug this and that special sections are not part of it because they are different.

Phil: I judged A portfolio. You can tell who has in-house control of their section. Graphics, deadlines, etc. I thought it was really good.

Naila: There were places that didn’t enter print portfolio and you would expect them. Maybe it was the change, maybe mandatories weren’t good. What do you do with e-editions? We need to assess how many people have dynamic e-editions that might be different than your print product and how those work in the future. How are you saving that section yourself? I don’t know how many people that affects yet. Before we figure out where that goes, we need to know who that affects.

Ed Reed: We hadn’t had a shot in recent years (at print) and got one this time. Combining them … it helped us. We can’t craft a daily section often, but we can a handful of times in the year. 

Oskar: I think you could get away with Sunday and Daily, but this portfolio follows along better in Triple Crown and Grand Slam. This balances a staff’s efforts vs. being top-heavy to print.

Kelly: It also feels like what the reader/subscriber’s daily experience is like.

Jorge: Did you see excellence in video? I liked that. Draws your eyes to ‘What’s good video?’ (several people nodding, saying ‘yes’ in agreement)

Naila: I will say this, the judges in those categories, I know I was throwing a nebulous thing at you. Judges all came back with 5 videos (except D), and a wide variety of video that demonstrated creativity. Previous video was so restrictive. It seemed to go well, but I will ask actual digital judges for feedback. 

Jorge: Congrats to all the winners in the room. A lot of familiar faces. How was the workload? Was it enjoyable? Are we coming back next year? There’s a lot of two-steps-forward-one-back, but we’re still doing well from my presidential point of view when you look around at everything. If you see issues with traveling to judging, how much work you’re doing at your fulltime job, the quality of experience here, coming to Florida. I know my attitude has changed. … Your opinions on this are important. 

Naila: I think remote judging needs an extra week (3 weeks, if not longer).

Jorge: I learned that last year and Naila gave them more time. You would think 10 days is enough from our POV here. But in “life” you need 17 days. We’ll see how a move to a later week affects conference tournaments, but if that 

Scott: I heard it was really hard for remote judges to even schedule meetings around everything they do. I don’t even know if you can focus on judging when you’re doing all those things. 

Sherrod: Agreed on the finding time with remote judging. It was hell. And everyone doesn’t work at the same pace. Some dive in, some take their time. It’s harder to do that when you’re here. 

Perryn: I’m sympathetic to that. There’s a lot.

Naila: And that’s why I’ve said they can take that time. I’ve been as lenient as I can. We’ve tried to keep remote judging in the same time zone, at least.

Ed: Yeah, if you’re here, you pop out for a meeting and then come back to judging. At home, you pop out of life to do judging. 

Motion to adjourn: Kelly Ward

Second: Alex Vejar

Meeting ends at 12:15 p.m.

Attendance list

Barry Bedlan, Associated Press

Erik Hall, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Bill Eichenberger, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Paul Barrett. The Seattle Times

Malcolm Moran, IUPUI

Oscar Dixon, Associated Press

Tommy Deas, USA TODAY Sports Network South/The Tuscaloosa News

Phil Kaplan, USA TODAY Sports Network South/Knoxville News Sentinel

Jamie Hancock, The Dallas Morning News

Scott Thurston, The Boston Globe

Perryn Keys, The Advocate/The Times-Picayune

Sherrod Blakeley, Boston University/Bleacher Report

Zach Cavanagh, Picket Fence Media

Gary Potosky, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Jim Pignatiello, MassLive/The Republican

Oskar Garcia, The New York Times

Sara Ziegler, The New York Times

John Bednarowski, Marietta Daily Journal

Nick Pugliese, Palm Beach Post

Jason Murray, The Washington Post

Zach Powell, Lock Haven Express

Alex Vejar, The Salt Lake Tribune

Meredith Perri, MassLive/The Republican

Kelly Ward, The Seattle Times

Damon Sayles, The Athletic