Terry Taylor wins 2018 Red Smith Award

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Terry Taylor wins 2018 Red Smith Award
Apr 3, 2018

Former Associated Press sports editor Terry Taylor knew she was in the running for the 2018 Red Smith Award, but she still found herself flabbergasted when she received the news she had won.

“I was not following it, and when I got the call I was not thinking Red Smith,” Taylor said. “I was more than surprised. I was floored by it.”

The award is given annually by the Associated Press Sports Editors to a person who has made “major contributions to sports journalism,” according to The Associated Press. While the honor came as a surprise to Taylor, she more than meets the criteria.

Former Washington Post sports editor George Solomon believes the award long overdue for Taylor.

“The late Red Smith would be pleased she won the award in his name but he would have wondered why she didn’t get it sooner,” Solomon said.

Her influential and groundbreaking career included more than two decades as the AP sports editor, but her journey began at The Charlotte (N.C.) News after she graduated from Temple University in 1974. While working at the afternoon newspaper, she got her first taste of sports journalism by editing sports wire copy.

After working in Charlotte for three years, Taylor received a tip from a friend in Philadelphia about a job opening in the AP’s Philadelphia bureau. From there, the rest was history.

She was hired by the Philadelphia bureau in 1977 and showed her versatility by working the broadcast desk, editing news stories and handling sports stories as well.

“The human resources sent out annual questionnaires to employees asking us what we wanted to do down the road,” Taylor said. “I said sports on a lark, thinking no one would read it or take it seriously. They did.”

So after four years in Philadelphia, Taylor transferred to the AP’s New York sports department in 1981 and covered figure skating at the Winter Olympics in 1984. She eventually became deputy sports editor before she left to work for The New York Times as an assistant sports editor.

However, Taylor always knew where home was. After less than a year, she returned to the AP in 1991 as assistant chief of New York City bureau.

Taylor became the first female sports editor for AP in 1992. Even as she made history, she said she felt no pressure and was comfortable in her role.

“I worked my way up,” she said. “I was a reporter, then I was a desk supervisor, then I was an assistant sports editor, then a deputy sports editor, then a sports editor. I knew the department fairly well.”

Still, Taylor remembers overhearing a snide comment at a baseball game.

“I was on the field during a batting practice and a coach went over to one of the AP guys and said, ‘She knows enough not to go running out in the middle of the field during batting practice, right?’” Taylor recalled.

Taylor, though, did not lose sleep over the comment. Instead, she always aimed to “rise up and move on,” she said.

As the sports editor, Taylor managed about 125 sports journalists worldwide and directed coverage of many different sporting events.

“I loved it all, honestly,” Taylor said. “The Indy 500 is much different than the Super Bowl, which is much different than the World Series, which is much different than a Triple Crown race. I loved the variety.”

Taylor retired from AP in 2014 after 36 years in sports media. She currently works for the International Olympic Committee as an adviser to the Olympic Service, and she watches the continued progress of women in sports media.

“We tell stories in so many different ways now on all of the various platforms,” Taylor said. “I would not know what to do if I watched Monday night football and did not see women on the sidelines.”

She offered advice and encouragement to women working their way up the ladder.

“Don’t give up. Shoot high. It may take a little while for you to get where you want to go but it’s worth it,” Taylor said. “If this is what you want to do, pursue it and know your stuff, work as hard as you can and have a great time.”

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