There’s a yearly tradition I’ve had the good fortune of undertaking for some time now that is equal parts therapeutic and enlightening. That excursion is the annual conference of sports editors, known as the Associated Press Sports Editors summer conference.
This year’s edition, which took place in downtown Atlanta across the street from Centennial Olympic Park, lived up to that standard.
I had the good fortune of sitting in on a number of informative breakout sessions, including one on how to use Google analytics to target audiences and another on how to come up with story ideas on slow news days.
The slow news day discussion, which was led by longtime Knoxville News Sentinel Sports Editor Phil Kaplan, included a variety of suggestions that can keep a publication churning, 365 days a year. Kaplan covered several easy solutions to filling a news hole, including posting short online posts about game times and TV outlets for college games, or dates and locations of high school contents in our coverage areas.
“We have to feed the beast,” Kaplan said. “We have demands all the time. You always have to have content out there. In this digital world, it’s important to always have something.”
I also had the fortune of hearing legends of this industry, such as longtime USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, break down the ethical quandaries that pop up when you’re assigned to cover sporting events.
We had a chance to hear the story of how former ESPN college football reporter Brett McMurphy broke the biggest sports story of 2018 on Facebook, showing you don’t need to stick to traditional forms of media to tell an amazing story.
We also had the opportunity to discuss and vent about the issues plaguing our industry as a whole, such as lack of access to newsmakers and the rapid evolution of the journalism industry as a whole.
Perhaps the greatest asset of the APSE’s summer shindig has nothing to do with journalism per se, but rather the chance to chat with colleagues and try to connect over our shared livelihoods.
The conference allows sports reporters at outlets big and small to share their story ideas and their successes and failures, so they can learn and improve in their daily routines.
It was incredible to sit and discuss a few ideas with reporters from papers and websites that I’ve idolized for most of my life, feeling a greater sense of connectivity in an increasingly disconnected world.
My job at Tucson Local Media requires that I find new and creative ways to tell the stories of those in our midst, so I take that duty to heart each and every day. That’s why it’s rewarding to attend the APSE’s summer event, as it gives me tips and pointers that allow me to tell new stories or cover continued ones in new ways.
The ability to find new story angles and to tell stories that will resonate with our audience is crucial in this industry, which is why organizations like APSE are vital.
I look forward to implementing some of the suggestions and angles that others pitched during the week, so these newspapers can continue its goal of reaching the community as a whole.
I was awestruck to hear the association’s new president, Todd Adams, discuss the importance of local journalism in his introductory statements last Wednesday night.
Adams, who has worked as an editor in places like San Diego and Orlando, covered the issues he’s faced during his career.
He mentioned being laid off twice in the last calendar year in passing, so as to introduce his relentless passion for working in sports journalism.
Adams talked about how honored he is to represent an association that strives to promote the best practices in our industry, touching on how vital journalism is to our world right now.
He discussed how his departure from the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2016 came on the heels of being diagnosed with a heart ailment that caused a tear in a layer of tissue in the organ, and how it gave him perspective when he was laid off.
“Overall, it was just kind of another bad thing that happened to me at that time,” he said. “After having heart surgery, everything else seemed a little less important.”
It’s that dedication to the craft that brings all of us to the association’s summer conference and that keeps us churning out copy every day, regardless of the obstacles in our way.
I hope to do just that for the foreseeable future, never losing sight of the fact that my job is to serve you, the reader.
There are so many stories to tell in northwest Tucson and so many people that warrant the attention.
I’m excited to bring those stories to light as the summer progresses, continuing our longstanding commitment to our community.
Here’s hoping that you’ll enjoy the work we put out over the next few months, building on the lessons learned during last week’s festivities in Atlanta.