My trip to Associated Press Sports Editors Conference

Published 4:24 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2019

took the trip back home up Interstate 85 North earlier last week to attend this summer’s Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) Conference in Atlanta.

The four-day event brought registrants from newspapers and media outlets of all sizes out from 38 different states. The APSE Conference gives sports editors an opportunity to exchange ideas with one another and learn new ways to provide better coverage for the communities being served.

“I thought it was a really great conference,” APSE first vice president Lisa Wilson said. “We had a lot of great programming this week. The diversity panel that I moderated started it off, and I thought that set a tone.”

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In 2018, APSE received an overall grade of D+ on its racial and gender report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. In 2017, the percentage of sports editor positions being held by white men was 78.8%, which was the lowest percentages for white men in the category since the studies began in 2006.

After next summer’s APSE Conference in Indianapolis, Wilson will officially be named the first black female president in the organization’s 46-year history.

The first woman to serve as the president of APSE was Sandy Rosenbush, who was also named this year’s Red Smith Award-recipient, the highest journalistic honor for members within the organization.

“I’m surprised when I hear that it’s taken 44 years to elect a black woman in a leadership position in APSE,” Wilson said. “It’s stunning that it took so long. Once you get over that, there’s a tremendous sense of pride. I firmly believe that you have to see it to achieve it. To be a role model and let women, particularly women of color, know that you can rise in the highest ranks of this organization is something that I’m extremely proud of, and it’s a duty that I don’t take lightly.”

Being a pioneer in the industry is nothing new for Wilson in her career path.

From 2011 until 2017, Wilson was the only black female sports editor at a major metropolitan daily in America at the Buffalo News before working as the senior editor for sports at ESPN’s The Undefeated, according to The Business Journals. She is currently the editor for The Athletic NFL.

Every year growing up, her mother Ocie Bell would take her to the Black Achievers in Industry Awards in Buffalo, New York to show Wilson the possibilities of what people of color can accomplish, and now, setting the example for her own daughter is what keeps her going.

Having the opportunity to pick the minds of editors like Wilson, Oscar Dixon of The Associated Press, Larry Graham of The Blade in Ohio, David Kraft from ESPN, Thomas Scott of The Beaumont Enterprise, Mark Faller from Arizona Republic, Tyler Batiste of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Christa Mann from the Major League Soccer communications department and many others were decades combined of experiences and information poured into me for four days.

The face-to-face, genuine interactions is something that cannot be substituted with any new technological invention.

Now, I’m blessed with the opportunity to bring back my knowledge to the Greater Valley Area, and I’m excited to bring an improved sports section in the upcoming school year.