July 18, 2023

Wilson: Leading during the pandemic

Lanie De La Milera

As APSE celebrates its 50th anniversary, we asked former presidents to discuss the past and the future of the organization. In today’s spotlight is Lisa Wilson, who was president from 2020-2021.

What did you do as president of APSE?

“I focused on guiding the organization through the pandemic. I was the first – and God willing the last – APSE president to deliver an incoming speech via Zoom. We met virtually, from a winter meeting to committee meetings to region check-ins, until we were finally able to meet again in person at the summer conference in Las Vegas in 2021.

“I believe we were the only journalism organization to hold an in-person conference that summer, and I’m proud we were able to accomplish that while prioritizing everyone’s safety. I’m also proud that we were able to start an APSE newsletter (another way to reach our members during the pandemic), create the Garry D. Howard scholarship to benefit HBCU students, add North Carolina A&T as our first HBCU student chapter, and get back on schedule with the TIDES report card on diversity in sports media while increasing the number of members who filled out the survey.”

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

“Our industry is constantly changing and we must change with it. Talk to your members and find the best ways to serve them. Always work to bring in new members, especially journalists from underrepresented groups and student journalists. 

“Let them know what APSE has to offer and make them feel welcome. Continue to find new ways to raise money. Incoming presidents, start working on the things you want to accomplish before your term begins. Trust me, that year goes fast. Past presidents, continue to stay involved. There is much work to be done and your leadership and passion for APSE is always needed.”

Should APSE  meet once or twice a year?

“As much as I am in favor of in-person judging, I don’t think it is sustainable to ask our members to attend two conferences every year. Budgets are shrinking more than they are growing. We judged the entire contest remotely during my presidency because of COVID, and while the all-remote format presented its own challenges and took longer to complete, we got it done.

“My recommendation would be to switch to all-remote judging, hold the winter conference over Zoom, and work to get most of our members to a robust summer conference every year.”

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

“I think as long as the majority of our members produce a print product, we should always find ways to celebrate that work along with writing and digital. Condensing the print categories into a print portfolio was an excellent first step.’’

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