By Josh Barnett
Chair, APSE Regions Committee
Executive Sports Editor, Philadelphia Daily News
Dave Ammenheuser describes the Press-Enterprise in Riverside Calif., as the “epicenter of what's happened economically to our industry.”
The assistant managing editor / sports and administration, Ammenheuser has seen staff reductions and a complete change in focus for his department over the last few years, from pro and major college sports to high schools and local colleges.
A chance to get back to directing a staff covering pro and major colleges was among the reasons that Ammenheuser is leaving the Press-Enterprise to become sports editor of the Tennessean in Nashville. He begins May 14.
"I will miss my staff dearly,” he said. “It pains me to leave them. They are not only talented journalists, but great people. “
A few years ago, the paper had a sports staff of 43 with four assistant sports editors.
“ We covered everything in Southern California — the Lakers, the Clippers, USC, UCLA, the Galaxy, Chivas USA, the Ducks, the Kings … we were the only paper in the country covering three Major League Baseball teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Padres),” he said. “Plus, we covered nine Inland colleges and more than 100 high schools.
“Today, we have eight reporters. Many talented staff members, including my four assistants, have been laid off. Our circulation footprint changed, our coverage focus is now entirely on Inland Southern California high schools and local colleges."
Ammenheuser also cited family concerns for the change and the desire for he and his wife to be closer to their parents.
He has been the Press-Enterprise since 2003. Under his leadership, the PE won several national, regional and statewide awards including being named one of The Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 web sites for two consecutive years; and the Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 daily sections. The PE was also named one of “10 who do it right” by Editor & Publisher for high school sports coverage.
He initiated the high school sports website at The PE, created award winning multimedia sports packages including “Unbreakables,” a series of all-time Inland Southern California high school recordholders, and oversaw the ethics and social networking committees at the newspaper.
Prior to joining the P-E, he was the sports editor at the New Haven (Conn.) Register, the Rock Hill (S.C.) Herald and the Carroll County (Md.) Times. He began his career a sports writer at The Frederick (Md.) News-Post.
Now, his attention shifts to Tennessee.
“I'm joining a great staff. Outgoing sports editor Larry Taft has set up a strong foundation."
Taft, 62, came to the Tennessean in January 1977 and spent most of 20 years covering preps, which remained a passion until his retirement. He left for 16 months to work at the state high school athletic association, came back when the paper launched its preps web site and worked on the site for several years before returning to sports as an assistant sports editor. He was named sports editor in the summer of 2007.
“I covered a lot of things – they never found anything I could do well,” he joked. That list included University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt football and basketball, a few World Series, bowl games. “I wound up as a fill-in doing Richard Petty’s last NASCAR race, which also happened to be Jeff Gordon’s first Cup race,” he added.
Change in Louisville
Creig Ewing has been named interim sports editor of the Courier-Journal.
He replaces Harry Bryan, who had held the position in 24 of his 36 years at the newspaper before taking the early retirement offer from Gannett in mid-April. Copy editor Roy Walker also took the buyout from the C-J sports staff.
Ewing has been at the C-J since 1998 as an assistant sports editor. He previously had been an assistant at the Orlando Sentinel, where he had been on the sports staff since 1983, as a reporter and editor. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.
Detroit Free Press: Columnist Michael Rosenberg is leaving to become a senior writer at Sports Illustrated. He has worked at the Free Press since 1999. He also has been a featured columnist at FoxSports.com and a contributor to Sports Illustrated. Before working at the Free Press, he worked at the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer and Sacramento Bee. He also is the author of “War As They Knew It,” about the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry in the late 1960s and 1970s.
Arizona Republic: Longtime Arizona sports journalist Jim Gintonio retired from the Arizona Republic in late April. Gintonio joined the staff of the Phoenix Gazette in 1980 where he worked as a news editor, horse racing reporter and media columnist. He moved to the Republic when the two newspapers merged in the late 1990s. His most recent assignment was covering the Phoenix Coyotes. Before coming to Arizona, Gintonio also worked in Lorain, Ohio; Abilene and Lubbock, Texas; and Charleston, W.Va. Also leaving the Republic was online sports producer Brian Manzullo, who has joined the staff of the Detroit Free Press.
Bakersfield Californian: Recently hired copy editor/page designer Nick Lozito, formerly of the Modesto and Sacramento Bees, and most recently employed by the Sacramento River Cats baseball team. He replaces Todd Camps, who left the newspaper industry.
Tallahassee Democrat: Jim Henry has been named assistant sports editor. Henry had been doing freelance work at the paper since March 2011 after spending two years as a senior writer at AOL Fanhouse and three years as a senior writer at 180 Communications. He also has co-authored the book, “Tarnished Heisman.”
The Seattle Times: Two sports news assistants, Donald Dirks and Janelle Wetzstein, left in April to pursue other interests. Dirks, who was hired eight years ago and put together The Seattle Times' agate page for most of that time, plans to return to school and change careers. Wetzstein, a part-timer who recently graduated from the University of Washington, was hired as a reporter by the Petaluma (Calif.) Argus-Courier. Reporter intern Master Tesfatsion, a senior-to-be at Arizona State University, will arrive May 14. The Dallas native covered the San Diego Padres for the San Diego Union-Tribune's spring-training program with ASU, and also interned at ESPN/Dallas. Desk intern Joel Petterson, who graduated in May from the University of Kansas, starts June 11. He also interned at the Kansas City Star and New York Times.
Peninsula Daily News (Port Angeles, Wash): Sports reporter/outdoors columnist Matt Schubert left to become online sports editor for the Lincoln, Neb., daily. The Daily News hired Lee Horton as its new sports reporter/outdoors columnist.
Sandusky (Ohio) Register: Mike Truax is leaving to return to school and spend more time with his family.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Hired J. Brady McCollough from the Kansas City Star for a sports enterprise writing position. McCollough covered the University of Kansas for the Star for the past four years. McCollough is a graduate of the University of Michigan. He replaces Dejan Kovacevic, who left the Post-Gazette for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, where he is the newspaper's lead columnist.