July 13, 2023

Skwar: Stick to core values

Lanie De La Milera

As APSE celebrates its 50th anniversary, we asked former presidents to discuss the past and the future. In today’s spotlight is Don Skwar, who was president from 2001-02.

What did you do as a president of APSE?

“I guess the biggest function for me was overseeing the 2002 convention, which was in Seattle (if I remember correctly, we had as a panelist some guy named Stephen A. Smith as an up-and-coming voice in the business). It was also the year we started having more and more serious issues with sports leagues regarding credentials and usage, so I did what any president would do. I delegated it to somebody who had a much sharper legal brain than I did. That was John Cherwa, who was the first VP and whom we gave the additional title of legal affairs chief. There were many days that year that I talked more with John than I did my wife.”

What advice would you give to APSE and its presidents for the next 10 years? 50 years?

“I think it's always prudent to remember what the core values of any organization are and try to adhere to them. Overall, as it pertains to APSE, I think that'd be to strive for professional excellence and to keep ethical values at the forefront of your membership's principles.

“Most of the other issues that have and will come up through the years will change as the time's change, but that core is important. I also think it's important to not be overly concerned about being first with a story or result but to be accurate.”

“Over time, the amount of trust that a reader can place in your efforts will bear the results you want: a dedicated and, hopefully, a growing number of people who can trust and enjoy what you're delivering to them. I'm sure that's more and more difficult as staffs shrink in size, but it's still crucial, and, I would hope, always will be. And, if nothing else, please remember how vital storytelling is,” Skwar said. 

Should  APSE meet twice or once a year?

“I don't think I can answer this very intelligently, because I don't know what the budgets for papers and sites are these days. We had the winter meetings to judge and discuss issues that came up over the previous six months in the various regions of the organization, and I know personally that it was rewarding to see faces and talk in person. But I would imagine a lot of that can get done via video conferencing.”

Should the contest judge writing only or continue as is — writing and sections?

“I would imagine that sections have become less vital with the importance of online sites, and I would think that some members such as ESPN and other site-only sports entities don't have sections per se, so it might appeal to fewer entities now than in the past. Writing -- storytelling, especially -- has always been the benchmark of any sports department -- whether online or pulp product -- or, at least, it should have been the most valuable. So if there's a clamor for writing to dominate, I'd understand the reason for the outcry.”

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