Dick Yarbrough

As a point of reference, I am not officially a member of the staff of the Marietta Daily Journal, but I have been around the paper long enough that I consider myself a part of the family, albeit the weird cousin who shows up at the family reunion with gravy stains on his tie.

I am proud to have a small role in the MDJ’s daily life, although I am sure there are days that management could do without the honor when the phone starts ringing about one of my unvarnished opinions. I suffer fools poorly, and it occasionally shows.

But whether you agree with me or my opinions, fret over a headline or a particular story, know that a lot of hard work by a lot of hard-working people goes into putting out the paper each and every day. Journalism has been called “literature in a hurry” and that it is.

The MDJ does its daily literature in a hurry and does it well. Perhaps no better example can be found than in and on the sports pages. The paper is not inclined to toot its own horn, so I will toot it for them.

To wit: John Bednarowski, the MDJ’s sports editor, has just finished his term as president of the Associated Press Sports Editors, a 400-plus member organization comprising the leading lights in the sports world, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, ESPN and the Boston Globe, to name just a few. Bednarowski is only the second Georgian to have headed the prestigious 46-year-old association and represents the smallest newspaper to have had a president of APSE. That, folks, is high cotton.

The organization just wound up its annual summer convention, this year in Atlanta, and the Marietta Daily Journal was one of 10 papers in the nation to win the Triple Crown for Best Daily Sports Section, Best Sunday Section and Best Special Section. Other winners included such heavyweights as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post and the Seattle Times. The high cotton just keeps getting higher.

Awards are nothing new for Bednarowski. He had his own personal Triple Crown this year, winning Best Column from the Associated Press Managing Editors, Best Sports Writing from the Georgia Sports Writers Association and Best Sports Column from the Georgia Press Association.

When not winning awards, Bednarowski has been keenly focused on the future of sports reporting, particularly diversity. APSE has a program called Diversity Fellows. Even though he is now a past-president of the organization, he is busy helping establish the APSE Foundation, which will help provide education and funding opportunities for these young people who aspire to be sports editors one day, allowing them to network with professionals throughout the year at meetings and workshops.

Getting access to coaches and players these days is becoming more of an issue with sports writers. During his term as president of the APSE, Bednarowski was involved in getting a basketball beat writer’s access restored by Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. The school had restricted his access because they felt the reporter didn’t “promote the Bradley brand.” It is Bednarowski’ s opinion — and mine — that it is not the role of a reporter to promote a brand. It is a reporter’s job to report. (Bradley University relented and apologized.)

Bednarowski, a native of northern Ohio, came to the Marietta Daily Journal in 2006, after graduation from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He had at one time thought he would be a history teacher until he found a niche writing sports for the UAB school paper. That led to a job in Pell City, Alabama, as a sports writer, and then the Gadsden Times.

“I heard about an opening in Marietta and decided to check it out,” he recalls. “I told my wife, Mo, she could do some shopping in Atlanta while we were in town. When I got to the MDJ, I suggested she wait in the car while I ran in. Three-and-a-half hours later, I walked out with the job. I am lucky she didn’t kill me.” We are all lucky.

So, what is next? After five years as a national officer and a year as president of the Associated Press Sports Editors, Bednarowski is back at his desk putting together the MDJ’s annual 200-page (give or take) football preview magazine, due out in August. There is not a better one in the country. How good is it? “The Los Angeles Times asked if I would share a copy with them,” he smiles.

The Marietta Daily Journal rightfully refers to itself as “Cobb’s Local News Source Since 1886.” In addition, John Bednarowski has managed to put himself and the MDJ in the company of the nation’s elite media sports organizations as well.

I may only be the weird cousin who shows up at the family reunion with gravy stains on my tie, but I couldn’t be prouder of my newspaper family and the people who make it go.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at dick@dickyarbrough.com; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Ga. 31139 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.

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