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Score More Readers: Improving Local Sports Coverage – PART II


Nov 17, 2022




Teresa Shaak

4 sessions. 2 days. 1 outstanding training opportunity.

Through this series of four virtual sessions over two days, we’ll take a deeper dive into how newsrooms – of any size – can enhance coverage of local sports and win more readers.  From reporting on high school games to podcasts to alternative story forms and enterprise projects, learn how you can grow this valuable and popular journalism while engaging your community.


PART I – Tuesday, Nov. 15

10 – 10:50 a.m. – High School coverage beyond the box score

Presented by: Lyzz Stallings, regional sports editor, USA Today Network and York Daily Record and Shelly Stallsmith, high school sportswriter, York Daily Record

Lyzz Stallings has worked in or around the York Daily Record sports department since 1998, a streak only broken up by a three-year stint as the news director for The (Hanover) Evening Sun. Stallings leads other departments in central Pa. (Lebanon, Chambersburg) and Hagerstown, Maryland, while working closely with Gannett-owned papers throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Her bread-and-butter is high school sports, helping to launch GameTimePA.com in 2008, a standalone site (and now a brand/social presence) dedicated to high school sports that helped to change our approach to coverage.

Shelly Stallsmith is a central Pa. native who has worked in sports media for more than 30 years in Carlisle, Harrisburg and York. She has covered everything from 7-year-old skiers to national and international events. She has been there through changes from cold type and manual color separations to computer pagination to the internet and social media.

11 – 11:50 a.m. – Supplementing coverage with podcasts and tips/ideas on ways to monetize

Presented by: Dustin Hockensmith, sports reporter for PennLive.com

Dustin Hockensmith has been a sports reporter for PennLive and The Patriot-News for the past 15 years. He has been recognized statewide for his enterprise reporting and nationally for his video work, and he was recently named Pennsylvania’s wrestling writer of the year. In addition to those responsibilities, he has served as a host or analyst on numerous sports podcasts, including Penn State football, fantasy football and high school wrestling.

PART II – Thursday, Nov. 17

10 – 10:50 a.m. – Alternative story forms and ways to keep you (and your readers) interested

Presented by: Eric Epler, sports reporter for PennLive.com and Paul Vigna, former sports editor, PennLive.com

Eric Epler, a PennLive sportswriter, has covered a dozen major golf championships, the Ryder Cup, and other professional and college sports, but his speciality over the last 20-plus years has been high school football. Took over AP rankings for Pa. in 2012 and coordinate All-State football teams for Pa. Football Writers. Longtime coordinator of The Travers Award, given annually to the top male and female scholar-athletes in central Pa. He has done freelance work for various magazines and most Pa. newspapers as well as The Detroit Free Press, Cleveland Plain Dealer and The Associated Press.

Paul Vigna organizes these Sharon Johnson workshops on any number of topics. He was a sports editor of PennLive.com and The Patriot-News for five years before switching over to news. Before that, he was sports enterprise editor at the Philly Daily News for 8 years, sports editor at the York Daily Record for 5 years, and two-time APSE regional chair. He teaches journalism at Yoirk College of PA.

11 – 11:50 a.m. – Adding enterprise/small projects to your sports coverage, with best ideas

Presented by: John Walk, sports reporter LNP|LancasterOnline

John Walk is a sports reporter with LNP|LancasterOnline in Lancaster, PA. LNP is among the largest daily circulation newspapers in the state. In his 12th year as journalist, John has worked in news (covering city hall for the York Dispatch) and sports (covering various high school sports, semi-pro baseball, and low-level college sports, amongst other endeavors). Comfortable in front of a camera and behind, John is most passionate about writing human interest stories, for which he has won numerous Keystone Awards.


Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association Foundation Logo


November 17, 2022
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
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Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association Foundation

This training is provided at no charge, but pre-registration is required.  Log in information will be provided upon registration through the Foundation’s GoToWebinar account.  You must register for both Tuesday and Thursday to attend all four sessions.  Each day’s registration gives you access to both sessions offered that day.  We encourage you to register for both Tuesday and Thursday, even if you might not be able to attend every session.  Sessions will be recorded and available following the workshop to all registered.


This 2022 version of the longtime Sharon Johnson Workshop comes to you virtually over two days through four succinct sessions, in consideration of busy newsrooms and fall sports schedules.  Prior to 2020, reporters and editors met in Harrisburg each November for a full day of sessions, panelists and presenters.  (A tasty lunch was included, too!)  Over the years, hundreds of participants learned how best to cover climate change, the opioid crisis and medical marijuana.  They also attended workshops dedicated to social media strategies, sports coverage in the digital age, engaging with readers, video, storytelling, watchdog journalism, enterprise reporting….and even blogging.  This popular workshop has always provided timely ideas, solutions and inspiration for newsrooms without a large budget or staff.


For 30 years, Sharon Johnson connected with the readers of The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, through her arts and entertainment writing. Her witty and informed style made her a must-read. In honor of Sharon’s memory, PennLive/The Patriot-News has sponsored this annual workshop through the PNA Foundation since 2002 with a focus on using the latest tools to provide the best stories and coverage. Through its Pulitzer-Prize-winning efforts for local reporting, PennLive/The Patriot-News works with the PNA Foundation to coordinate this workshop. Together, we recognize that while the tools, resources, formats and products may have changed since Sharon Johnson was writing, a good story and valuable information – whether printed, tweeted or videotaped – are still what readers want.