By Joe Baird
Salt Lake Tribune
June 27, 2009
PITTSBURGH – Between the apples he habitually devoured whole and his legendary escapades behind the wheel on
east coast turnpikes and backstreets, Vince Doria found the time to pull off an unprecedented triple-play:
He not only helped redefine sports journalism in print, but in broadcast and online as well.
Doria took a very good sports staff at the Boston Globe in the mid-1970s and over the next 10 years turned it into the journalistic version of the ’27 Yankees. At the short-lived National Sports Daily, he transplanted the Globe’s column- and analysis-rich approach to a much bigger, if short-lived stage. And at ESPN, Doria imprinted his adherence to the bedrock principles of hard work and deep reporting – and a bottomless well of great ideas – on the network’s airwaves, then its Web site and now all across its spectrum of multi-media platforms.
For all of those contributions, Vince Doria was given the Associated Press Sports Editors’ 2009 Red Smith Award here Friday, the organization’s highest accolade.
“It’s great company to be in, Doria told sports editors gathered for APSE’s annual summer convention here. “But to paraphrase Dan Quayle and Lloyd Bentsen, I knew Red Smith and I’m no Red Smith.”
No he’s not. But Doria, who began his journalism career in Ashtabula, Ohio, wanting to be Red Smith and got to know the legendary New York Times sports columnist while at the Globe, may well end up having as lasting an impact – influencing countless sports writers, columnists, editors and sections over the last three decades.
“He’s the best boss I ever worked for,” said Peter Gammons, the nation’s premier baseball columnist while working for Doria at the Globe, and now ESPN’s marquee baseball analyst.
Don Skwar, who worked for Doria both at the Globe, and now ESPN as the network’s senior news editor, called his mentor “the guiding light” of a Globe sports team that included not only Gammons, but Lesley Visser, Bob Ryan, the late Will McDonough and Dan Shaunessy – the greatest collection of sports writing talent ever assembled on one staff, in the eyes of many observers.
Doria agreed, marveling that, “Most days, all I really had to do was turn on the lights. It was an extraordinary group of people.”
But they all had one thing in common: an extraordinary editor who had limitless energy, an endless supply of story ideas and a temperment that could soothe savage egos and inspire the inexperienced.
“He always made the idea better,” Skwar said.
Doria also came in for some good natured-ribbing from his former and current charges, who regaled the APSE gathering in an introductory video. There was Doria’s propensity to regularly consume apples whole – “like a horse,” recalled Shaunessy – and find himself in scrape after scrape, owing to his, ah, unique driving skills.
Doria, who moved to ESPN in 1992 after 18 months with the short-lived National Sports Daily, is today the network’s vice president and director of news for all of ESPN’s platforms in video, audio, print and online content. He describes his job as pretty much the same one he had at the Globe – just with hundreds, if not thousands more people under him.
If so, it is a job that has morphed at warp speed as technology has spawned ever more ways of delivering content to readers, viewers and listeners. Doria has not only adapted; he has embraced the revolution, which now extends to mobile platforms and who-knows-what next.
But Doria says his principles have not changed. And that has been key as he has guided ESPN’s news operation into the 21st century.
“No matter the platform and the skill it requires, the standard shouldn’t change.”
And that, he added, should be the mantra of APSE members as their own publication roll and roil with the changes brought on by the changing ways in which consumers get their news.
“Whether or not newspapers continue to exist,” Doria said, “journalism will be here.”