On the Move: Wilson named Buffalo News sports editor May 31, 2011
What's the best preparation for being a sports editor? Could it be spending time as a reporter on the NFL beat?
Lisa Wilson, a former beat writer covering the Buffalo Bills in the 1990s, was named the sports editor of The Buffalo News in April.
Wilson, who did that Bills beat work in 1993 and 1994 for the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y., joined The Buffalo News in 1998 and became assistant sports editor in 2007. She replaces Steve Jones, who left the paper this spring.
Wilson becomes the first woman to be sports editor at The News and the only black woman to lead a sports department at a metropolitan daily newspaper in the United States.
"Obviously, I'm extremely proud of being the only female sports editor at a U.S. metropolitan newspaper," Wilson said. "But it also saddens me that more women and people of color are not in these positions.
"I think any sports editor feels pressure, no matter their race or gender," she added. "But I do feel a great sense of responsibility. I have to be mindful of the editors — both women and people of color — who will follow me. If I do a great job, it could create so many opportunities down the line. My success also could serve as a confidence boost for that applicant who may think that he or she doesn't have a chance at a top position."
Wilson called Buffalo a passionate sports town, which requires a tough-minded sports editor.
"You have to be able to take the criticism and get on with your job," she said. "What better place to learn that than an NFL locker room? It's not an ideal place to do business. But you have to put that aside and get on with your job.
"My time covering the Bills gave me a great sense of what it takes to be a sports writer. It's hard work, and I know exactly what our writers put into their beats on a daily basis. When they tell me it took an hour to transcribe quotes, I believe them, because I've been there. I know that athletes sometimes blow you off for an interview, no matter how hard you try to get it. I never assume a writer isn't giving me his or her best effort because I know things happen. I get all the facts first because that's what I want from my editors."
Wilson said The News faces issues that many papers face — asking people do more and more as resources dwindle — but she said the talented, hard-working staff has continued to produce quality stories, headlines and sections.
"Even though we've lost quantity in a shrinking newsroom, we've never lost quality," Wilson said. "We could easily have sports writers working full-time for our website, but unfortunately we don't have the bodies to do that, so I'm constantly asking writers to do more and more. But we make it work, and again, that's a credit to this staff."
Wilson moved the role of Sunday editor for sports in 2001, succeeding Jones.
"It was a smooth transition because of his guidance," Wilson said. "Steve taught me the importance of being a great communicator. If I can be half of the communicator that he was, I will have nothing but success."
Jones was sports editor of the Southbridge Evening News in Massachusetts before moving to Buffalo in 1978 to cover high schools and professional indoor soccer. He became Sunday sports editor and ASE at The News in 1983 under Howard Smith. He was deputy SE in the early 1990s and moved up to sports editor in 2007 when Smith became managing editor.
Jones said now he "just relaxing and exploring options."
"Over the years, it's been my pleasure to work with and learn from all the great sports editors in the APSE Northeast region," Jones said. "I'll miss them all."
Wilson is a Buffalo native and a 1991 Canisius graduate. She joined The Buffalo News as sports copy editor, then became Sunday sports editor in 2001 and assistant sports editor in 2007. Her husband, Allen Wilson, covers pro football currently for The News.
Lisa Wilson would like to increase the number of enterprise stories in the section and add more diversity to the coverage.
"We do extremely well with our daily beat coverage," Wilson said, "but we should always strive to give our readers something they're not expecting when they pick up the paper that morning.
"We will continue to emphasize the Bills, Sabres and high schools, what we like to call 'the third franchise.' But I also plan to devote more space to such sports as running and cycling that have received limited coverage over the years. The sports section should offer a little something for everyone.
"We are always looking for ways to enhance our presence on the Web and interact more with our readers. The Web will play a role in the increased coverage of running, cycling. There's unlimited potential there with stories, photos, standings, calendars, runner of the year rankings. …"
Philadelphia Inquirer: Hired Rob Tornoe to produce a weekly cartoon that is published every Sunday.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch: Danny Finnegan, former senior editor/sports, was named the editor of the paper, effective June 2. Finnegan succeeds Glenn Proctor, who retires June 1. Finnegan joined The Times-Dispatch in 1987 and held a variety of roles, most recently senior editor in charge of digital operations.
Charlottesville (Va.) Daily Progress: Named John Shiflett sports editor in April. Shifflett, a native Virginian, returned for his second stint at the paper. He also has worked at the Idaho Statesman in Boise, Idaho, and the Fort Collins Coloradoan in Fort Collins, Colo.
Orlando Sentinel: Matt Humphrey left his position as sports content editor for the Orlando Sentinel to work as director of digital communications for NASCAR.com. Humphrey had been an editor at the Sentinel since October 2005. Prior to that, he was assistant sports editor at the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star and the St. Joseph (Mo.) News Press. … Andrew Carter left the Sentinel to become Dolphins beat writer for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The Sentinel hired Coley Harvey, formerly of the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph, to replace Carter on the Florida State beat. … Craig Davis, who formerly covered participatory sports for the Sun-Sentinel, will cover sports business and enterprise for both Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. He replaces Sarah Talalay, who left to take a job with the U.S. State Department.
Jackson (Tenn.) Sun: Former high school reporter Matthew Bornstein left for a position at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in the web department. Named Michael Odom the new high school writer after serving in a part-time clerk/writer position for about five years.
Florence (Ala.) Times Daily: Hired Jeff Edwards, former sports editor of the Natchez (Miss.) Democrat, as a part-timer. Edwards, a Mississippi State graduate and Florence native, replaces Calvin Cooley.