In an attempt to increase the membership base and revenues, APSE has decided to reach out to college students through a program called the University Outreach Initiative.
APSE members have been asked to select a student sports journalist to sponsor and mentor from their alma mater (though they have the option to choose students from nearby colleges if it is more convenient). Members are expected to pay the students’ APSE membership fee ($25) and develop a relationship in which seasoned professionals can help college students network.
The program was developed during the APSE Winter Meetings in Orlando with the help of Baltimore Sun Sports Editor Ron Fritz.
“We were planning some conventions and workshops for academic interns at the Sun when the idea came up. The Outreach program is just a little something extra for them,” Fritz said. “The program is designed to start young reporters and future employees off on the right foot.”
The program was announced by APSE President Michael Anastasi on the organization’s website in March. Later, Anastasi has jumped into the program by sponsoring Salt Lake City native Sam Strong, a rising senior at UCLA majoring in sociology.
“He’s involved in a lot and is doing all the right things,” Anastasi said of Strong.
Said Strong: “Mike is a contact I’ve had for a while. I have no expectations as a new member. I’m just excited for whatever opportunities are made available. I’m honored.”
Strong already considers his sponsor to be a mentor. Their relationship has developed through Twitter and Facebook, as well as through the freelance work Strong has done for Anastasi.
“He’s a great guy to have in your corner.” Strong said.
Students should be able to expect more than just a free membership. In return for their participation, the young journalists will receive a special connection with a professional in their field. Students will be asked to submit their resumes, cover letters, and any clips to their APSE sponsor for personalized editing.
Student members’ portfolios will be available to editors as they are posted on the APSE website.
The student members will also be asked to write a single story about an aspect or person involved with the journalism business, which will be posted on the APSE website. This experience offers an excellent source of practice through the process of writing and interviewing sources.
Though the initiative is in its early stages, it is a promising development for both aspiring journalists and the APSE members who are willing to participate.
“Everyone wants to help young journalists,” Fritz said. “It reminds us why we’re in the business and helps reporters and young journalists grow. It excites everyone.”