The Freedom Forum Institute and the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland are pleased to host a special program, “Sports Writers: Are We Also the Enemy?”
This program is the latest in a series begun in 2014, focused on sports topics. In past years, the focus has ranged from sports column writing through the years and the future of sports cartooning to women in sports writing. This year, we’re exploring what seems to be an increasingly tension-filled relationship between coaches and sports writers — and whether coaches view those writers as enemies.
The sessions will be co-moderated by George Solomon, director of the Povich Center and former assistant managing editor for sports at The Washington Post and Gene Policinski, president and chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute and former managing editor for Sports at USA TODAY.
David Aldridge, Editor-in-Chief, The Athletic
David Aldridge is editor-in-chief of The Athletic D.C. He has worked for nearly 30 years covering the NBA and other sports for Turner, ESPN and The Washington Post. In 2016, he received the Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Legacy Award from the National Association of Black Journalists. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Greg Aiello served for 39 years as communications executive in the National Football League (NFL). After beginning his career as a sports writer for Newsday and United Press International, he joined the Dallas Cowboys’ public relations staff in 1979. He left as the Cowboys’ director of public relations in 1990 to become director of communications in the NFL commissioner’s office in New York under Paul Tagliabue. Aiello was promoted to vice president of public relations in 1997 and to senior vice president of communications in 2007 by Tagliabue’s successor, Commissioner Roger Goodell. Aiello supervised the league office’s public relations staff. He worked closely with the commissioner, his senior staff and NFL clubs on media strategies and policies and served as a primary league spokesman to the news media. He retired from the NFL last February. A native of Syosset, N.Y., Aiello graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1974 and from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1976.
Liz Clarke, Columnist, The Washington Post
During her 20 years as a sportswriter for The Washington Post, Liz Clarke has covered the Washington Redskins, multiple Olympic Games and World Cups and written extensively about college sports, tennis, auto racing and a range of sports features. Twice honored as National Motorsports Writer of the Year, among other journalistic awards, she is author of the 2008 book, “One Helluva Ride: How NASCAR Swept the Nation.” She is also a regular contributor to “The Tony Kornheiser Show” podcast. Before joining the Post in 1998, she worked as a sportswriter at USA TODAY, The Dallas Morning News and The Charlotte Observer. She started her career as a news reporter for The News & Observer inRaleigh, N.C., covering higher education. A graduate of Columbia University’s Barnard College, she did her graduate studies in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Leonard Downie Jr., Former Executive Editor & Vice President, The Washington Post
Leonard Downie Jr., the Weil Family Professor of Journalism at the Cronkite School, is the former executive editor and vice president of The Washington Post. During his 44 years in the Post newsroom, he was also an investigative reporter, editor on the local and national news staffs, London correspondent and, from 1984 to 1991, managing editor under then-executive editor Ben Bradlee. As deputy metro editor from 1972 to 1974, Downie helped supervise the Post’s Watergate coverage. He also oversaw the newspaper’s coverage of every national election from 1984 through 2008. During his 17 years as executive editor, The Washington Post won 25 Pulitzer prizes.
Franklin Cullen “Pepper” Rodgers is a former American football player and coach. He was head coach at the University of Kansas (1967-1970), University of California, Los Angeles (1971-1973), and the Georgia Institute of Technology (1974-1979), compiling a career college football record of 73–65–3 (.528). Rodgers was also the head coach of the United States Football League’s Memphis Showboats from 1984-1985 and of the Canadian Football League’s Memphis Mad Dogs in 1995. He also served as the Washington Redskins’s director of football from 2001-2004.
Christy Winters Scott, Sports Broadcaster
Christy Winters Scott is sports analyst for college basketball games broadcast on ESPN, FSN, the Big Ten Network, NBC Sports Washington and Raycom Sports and a former collegiate basketball player at the University of Maryland.