Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

Turbulent journey – finally – leads Todd Adams to APSE presidency

Alanis Thames
SJI Class of 2019

Todd Adams might have been devastated by losing his job at the San Diego Union-Tribune at a different point in his life.

He liked San Diego.

“Southern California is like a little slice of the world,” he said.

Coming from the Midwest, the California weather felt like heaven to him. And he enjoyed working with the sports staff as the sports editor.

In February 2016, company-wide layoffs left him without a job. Unemployment may have felt like a much bigger deal to him if he hadn’t had heart surgery less than three months prior.

In 2015, Adams was diagnosed with an aortic dissection, a tear in the inner layer of the large blood vessel branching off the heart. Left untreated, the condition could be fatal.

Adams had surgery that December and, after it, even though everything around him seemed to be spiraling, he had to put life into perspective.

“Overall, it was just kind of another bad thing that happened to me at that time,” Adams said of being laid off. “After having heart surgery, everything else seemed a little less important.”

Because he was unemployed, he had to relinquish his position as second vice president of the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE).

But his fortune started shifting a couple of months later.

Adams was hired as deputy sports editor at the Detroit Free Press in April, where he stayed for about six months. He eventually landed a job as the sports editor at the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill., less than 100 miles from his hometown in Lexington, Ill.

Adams repeated his term as second vice president of APSE after being re-elected in April 2017, and he’s served as the first vice president since June 2018.

His tumultuous journey will culminate this June when he takes over as APSE’s 46th president. He’ll ascend to the position most recently held by John Bednarowski.

“When it comes time to do work, [Adams] gets it done, does it well and that’s all we ask for in an APSE president is to be a good steward, work hard and make sure that the organization stays at the forefront of journalism,” Bednarowski said. “And I think he’s going to do that very well.”

Adams previously served as the Atlantic Coast chair for APSE and, as first vice president, he ran the 2018 APSE contest. Adams’ proudest accomplishment as a member of the organization was bringing the annual convention to San Diego in 2015.

Once his role as president officially begins at the closing meeting of the annual convention in Atlanta, Adams will cherish finally being there.

“The organization [APSE] has been very important in my career and has been very important to me personally, just the way that people that I’ve meet through the organization kind of helped me out when I needed it,” Adams said. “So I feel like I kind of owe something back.”

Phil Kaplan, who was APSE president in 2011, considers Adams one of his good friends in and out of the industry. He’s confident in where the organization stands with Adams taking over.

“He wants the best out of APSE,” Kaplan said, “which is great because, as our numbers shrink, we need people that are really strong in our organization.”

One of Adams’ goals as president will be to improve APSE’s website.

He said he’s working on a separate website for the Red Smith Award, which is awarded by the organization for outstanding contributions in sports journalism. He wants to highlight the honor as well as update the organization’s overall online presence, so its website will be more of a resource.

Adams also wants to focus on membership.

As newspapers continue to shrink and resources grow scarce, he said, APSE will find ways to work with people to provide value to smaller newspapers affiliated with the organization.

“Coming from small papers, it was really the small newspaper people that really supported me when I was running for office,” Adams said. “They were really the ones that elected me.”

And he’ll not only have the support of those from small newspapers but also from the many people he’s met in the sports industry and through APSE who have guided him through his journey.

“When you’re president, you’re never alone,” Bednarowski said. “You have all the other past presidents that have come before you … we’re always there to help. This isn’t something that you have to try to tackle alone.”