Dylan Sinn at the APSE Conference

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Dylan Sinn at the APSE Conference
Jul 12, 2017

Police blocking off traffic and attendees tossing beads to residents overlooking the streets of New Orleans sounds more like a scene from a Mardi Gras parade than a gathering of sports journalists, but that was what happened on the first night of my trip to the AP Sports Editors conference.

On our way to the opening night reception, I and about 100 other conference-goers marched through Canal Street with a marching band, kicking off the four-day conference.

I arrived at that reception, which was essentially a mixer for the conference’s editors, armed with nothing but a few dozen business cards I’d printed prior to my trip. Striking up casual conversations with people I don’t know has never been my strong suit.

Despite my nerves, I was able to make plenty of strong connections at that opening reception and the rest of the conference’s mixers. That was mostly thanks to assistance from George Solomon–“George told me I should speak with you” turned out to be a magic greeting–as well as the general magnanimity from many of the editors, who were for some reason more than willing to speak with a 23-year-old Master’s student.

While I spent my four nights at the conference making contacts (and friends), I spent the days listening to panel discussions on such topics as how to effectively localize coverage of national stories, and best practices for making an effective short video. One of the liveliest discussions was on politics and bias in sports media. During that session, members of the audience frequently interjected comments and panelist Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports opined, “Twitter is a loaded gun to your career,” while making a point about the dangers of misusing social media.

One of my personal favorite moments from the panels was listening to Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle discuss tips for writing good columns as part of a panel in the afternoon after she’d spent part of the morning writing a column on Chris Paul’s trade to the Rockets. Her column suggestions–such as always speaking with experts on the topic–were of course evident in that particular column.

Another highlight of the week was the Red Smith Award banquet, where former APSE President Henry Freeman was honored with the award, which is given annually for “major contributions to sports journalism.”

Freeman gave a lively acceptance speech in which he discussed his time as USA Today’s first sports editor and his department’s efforts to create a section that would appeal to a mass audience despite not having a local team to cover consistently. These efforts led to the creation of the expanded box scores and standings that are now commonplace in newspapers.

The week concluded with a banquet for the presentation of the APSE contest winners. Here I can brag a little as my former colleagues at The Herald-Times in Bloomington, Indiana–I was an intern there in the summer of 2015–were recognized multiple times for their stellar sports page. Almost as thrilling was seeing The Chicago Tribune, my favorite paper since I was six years old, honored, including for its coverage of the 2016 Cubs.

The final evening also featured an announcement that the 2018 conference will be held in Nashville, so whoever follows me as the Povich Center representative will be treated to a dose of Music City next summer. Maybe they’ll even have a parade.

Dylan Sinn is a Master’s student at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

 

 

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