Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

Industry pioneer gets highest honor

By Angel Franco
SJI Class of 2018

Known for her brutal honesty, hard work ethic and commitment to journalism, Terry Taylor, 2018 Red Smith Award recipient, says that the award is one of the biggest honors of her life.

“Red Smith to me means the best in the business,” Taylor, former sports editor of the Associated Press, said. “I am honored to have that award with this name on it.”

Growing up, Taylor was always around sports, whether it was listening to baseball games on the radio or playing in her neighborhood outside of Philadelphia. Taylor said she didn’t initially aspire to be a sports journalist, but is thankful for the way her career turned out.

“Somehow sports always had a place in my life and was a great comfort to me,” Taylor said. “Did I set out to be a sports journalist? Heavens no. I like it and I followed it, and it just turned out hugely to my benefit.”

After a brief stint at the Charlotte News at the start of her career, Taylor returned to Philadelphia in 1977 to work for AP. Taylor said working there required being able to adapt and be knowledgeable on topics beyond sports.

“[At the] AP, you wear many hats, so everybody had to do everything,” Taylor said. “It was all hands-on deck on Saturdays for college football … you had to know some sports. I didn’t know everything, but I had a pretty good background in it. What I didn’t know, my colleagues were always helpful in explaining.”

Taylor moved to the AP’s New York offices in 1981 and her career climbed steadily upward. She left AP briefly to work as deputy sports editor at The New York Times, but returned in 1991 and not long afterward was named sports editor when Darrell Christian was promoted to managing editor.

As the AP sports editor, Taylor was in charge of serving every market in the world, and former APSE president Steve Doyle says she did the job flawlessly.

“The way she ran AP when she was the sports editor was just brilliant,” Doyle said. “I can tell you that everyone I know of appreciated her. She had a tough job — that’s one of the tougher jobs in journalism because you are not only have to serve one market’ you’ve got to serve them all.”

Although Taylor is quick to credit her staff for her success, Doyle said it was her own work ethic and dedication to her craft that made things go smoothly.

“She knew what to do and how to do it,” Doyle said. “Everybody liked working with her and everybody appreciated what she was trying to accomplish.”

More recently, what Taylor says she initially thought was a phone call inquiring about an AP employee turned into a moment she’ll always remember—as APSE President Jeff Rosen told her she was the Red Smith winner.

“I thought Jeff was angling to hire Dave Skretta in Kansas City,” Taylor recalls, “and I was about to say, ‘If you want to hire Dave, you’ve got to talk to the AP sports editor in New York.’ and before I could say that, he said, ‘I’m calling you with some great news.’ He said Red Smith and you could’ve knocked me over.”