2019: Sandy Rosenbush

March 8, 2019

Sandy Rosenbush, the first woman to hold office as APSE president, and co-founder of the Sports Journalism Institute, has been named the Red Smith Award winner for 2019.

The award, given annually by the Associated Press Sports Editors to a person who has made “major contributions to sports journalism,” will be presented at the Red Smith Award luncheon during the 46th annual APSE Summer Convention on June 18 at the Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center.

“Holy cow, that’s amazing,” Rosenbush said when she was told she was this year’s winner. “I’m totally stunned.”

Rosenbush had 13 first-place votes and 94 points based on 5-3-1 scoring for first, second and third place votes.

The next five in the voting totals – Sally Jenkins (76), Christine Brennan (69), Tom Boswell (67), Bill Lyon (50) and Mark Whicker (39) – are automatically nominated for the 2020 award. All others will have to be re-nominated next year.

As always, the Red Smith nomination process and voting was open to past Red Smith winners, past APSE presidents, APSE national officers, 10-year APSE members and alumni members who belonged to APSE for at least 15 years.

Rosenbush (along with ESPN’s Leon Carter) was a founder of the Sports Journalism Institute, which has added 350 women and minorities to the staffs of the nation’s sports media since its inception in 1992. The class of 2019 is the 27th and APSE has been a partner from the beginning.

“This is awesome! Sandy has been a terrific partner from Day One with SJI,” said Carter, a vice president at ESPN.  With the help of the Freedom Forum, we took a singular seed in 1992 and grew SJI into what it is today. She is one of the main reasons why the program is still going strong. So many SJI students have benefited from her invaluable advice and instruction. She brings an honest reality to what this business is about. She does not sugarcoat it for the students. You won’t find anyone else in the world like Sandy. She is so unique.”

Rosenbush became the first woman to hold the office of APSE president in 1992. Among her many honors is the Association for Women in Sports Media’s 2012 Mary Garber Pioneer Award, presented to those who have paved the way for women in sports media.

Rosenbush was also presented the NABJ’s Legacy Award in 2009 and the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism on behalf of SJI in 2015. Both honors were presented jointly to Rosenbush and Carter as SJI co-founders, and the latter award had been presented to the likes of Winston Churchill, Gordon Parks and Gloria Steinem. 

“This is not about me, this is about the Sports Journalism Institute,” Rosenbush said. “This program began as a partnership with APSE (of which I was the president at the time) and NABJ (where Leon was the Sports Task Force chair at the time). We wanted to do something that would help further diversity and would open doors for the next generation. Now, with well over 300 graduates and the majority still in this business, it is an award for all of them.”

Rosenbush began her career at the Tallahassee Democrat, before moving to the Clearwater Sun, Chicago Sun-Times and then a nine-year turn at the Washington Post, working for George Solomon and feeling honored to be part of a staff that included Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon, Sally Jenkins, Christine Brennan, Len Shapiro and others from whom she learned so much.

With Solomon’s blessing, she moved to Paris to do editing and writing for the International Herald Tribune for 18 months before accepting a job as deputy sports editor at the New York Times. Her next stop was a long one — 13 years as first a senior editor, then an assistant managing editor at Sports Illustrated, where she also served as the launch editor for the late SI for Women.

Inspired by her work with the Sports Journalism Institute (supported by the Freedom Forum and NABJ in addition to APSE), Rosenbush left SI to be part of the New York City Teaching Fellows, where she worked in public schools in Brooklyn for two years. She also earned a masters from Brooklyn College.

Teaching remains dear to her heart, but she left the Teaching Fellows to join ESPN in 2008, working mainly as a news editor and news producer with crews broadcasting games. Rosenbush moved from full time to part time in 2018 and continues to work with the Saturday Night Football franchise and colleagues Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor and producer Bill Bonnell.

After 25 years in Brooklyn, Rosenbush moved to San Diego in 2018 with her husband (and former Daily Racing Form editor) Rich Rosenbush. 

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