By Michael A. Anastasi
Managing Editor, Salt Lake Tribune
I was lost, then I was late.
It was 1992 and I was attending my first APSE conference. I was the 25-year-old sports editor of a 10,000-circulation daily in the middle of nowhere in Northern California, and what I knew was I didn’t know a lot.
So I drove to San Francisco and, not surprisingly for someone who grew up a farming town, didn’t anticipate the traffic. Then I promptly got lost amid the maze of downtown.
That was my inglorious start with APSE. I missed the morning sessions. What a chump. But it also marked the beginning of my special relationship with this organization. When I finally got into the hotel, I found a guy who looked like he was in charge. He was: it was then-President Jeff Wohler, who invited me to sit with him and other accomplished pros of the time.
They made me feel welcome. I learned a lot just listening to them.
From that day forward, APSE became a cornerstone of my professional development.
The business has changed radically in the 20 years since. Some things haven’t: good writing, great reporting, ethics and integrity. And the importance of APSE to sports journalism.
Welcome to our 39th annual conference. It’s the third time the organization has met in the world-class city of Chicago, and I am so excited you are here.
For the first time, APSE is holding a joint conference with our friends from the Association for Women in Sports Media. There’s going to be a different buzz this week, and I can’t wait. Fittingly, AWSM is presenting its Pioneer of the Year Award to Sandy Rosenbush, a past president of APSE who not only remains a giant in our industry but continues to influence dozens of young journalists year after year with her ongoing leadership role with the Sports Journalism Institute.
Many of you have heard me say this before, but I think it’s worth repeating. With so much change, so much challenge, so much new, this is exactly the wrong time for editors to stop talking to each other.
We are providing an array of strong professional development opportunities for you this week. But often the best teaching will take place outside the classrooms. Take advantage of the shop talk in the hallways and, yes, in the hospitality room.
No one is a stranger here. If you’re a newcomer, be sure to introduce yourself. The officers will make sure you meet so many people, your head will be spinning — but in a good way, I promise! To you veterans, go out of your way to be inclusive, and share the wisdom you’ve gained along the way. Young sports editors aspire to be you.
What a privilege it will be to present the APSE Red Smith Award to Frank Deford, who I think was a little suspicious when I told him I still have the first and last editions of The National at home. One thing I did know back then was what terrific work that publication represented. Many journalists who worked under Deford are in Chicago this week.
I am looking forward to Saturday when we honor those who produced the best work in the nation this past year as well as the first graduating class of the Diversity Fellowship Program. I have been inspired by all of them.
I am hopeful this conference will signify the beginning of a great level of cooperation between APSE and AWSM, who have much to offer each other. The capable leadership of Jenni Carlson, Amy Mortiz, Karen Wall Bush and, soon, Stefanie Loh is a plus for all of sports journalism.
As has been the leadership of the many presidents who preceded me.
Thank you to all of them, especially special friends Jerry Micco, Glen Crevier and Phil Kaplan and special mentor Garry D. Howard. APSE will grow and become even better under incoming President Gerry Ahern, an old friend whose consul and support I treasured this past year.
Tim Stephens continued to evolve APSE’s digital presence and success and undoubtedly will be a strong partner to Gerry. Ben Brigandi steadily and ably represented APSE’s smaller members and will be missed as his term expires with mine at the conclusion of this conference. And what can I say about Jack Berninger, except that any sports editor who retires to a job of wine-tasting obviously knows more than most.
APSE had another strong year of accomplishment at the region level. Our region chairs and vice chairs delivered professional development opportunities throughout the nation in an APSE leadership role that is often under-appreciated. Thanks to all of you.
Our committees also achieved a great deal. My term would not have been a success without John Cherwa of Legal Affairs, a past president who does a stunning amount of work behind the scenes; Jorge Rojas, my partner with our diversity efforts; Josh Barnett, who took the regions to a new level; Bob Yates, who led an overhaul of the Red Smith election process; Jeff Rosen, who ensured we had another excellent experience in New York with our annual commissioners meetings; and Joe Sullivan, whose great wisdom and experience is evident in nearly every single thing APSE does as he runs both the Futures and Scholarship committees.
Lastly, it’s been an honor to serve as your President. The road from San Francisco to Chicago is one I’ve been privileged to travel. What a ride.
Michael A. Anastasi, APSE President