A pair of veteran journalists have been named regional sports editors for APG Media of Southern Minnesota.
Award-winning sports writers Nick Gerhardt and Michael Hughes will lead the APG sports team for the Faribault, Owatonna, Northfield, Waseca County and Kenyon papers. The collegial relationship that already exists between the two will be key in delivering the in-depth sports coverage that readers throughout the region have come to expect.
“I am always impressed by how committed Nick and Michael are to delivering so much local sports coverage to our readers,” said Steve Fisher, regional president and Publisher for APG Media of Southern Minnesota. “Both editors are steadfast in their attention to the local sports beats, and providing readers with quality local reporting in print and digital.”
Gerhardt will be based in Owatonna, and concentrate on Steele and Waseca County sports. He will report to APG Media of Southern Minnesota Regional Associate Editor Lisa Kaczke. Gerhardt replaces Jon Wiesbrod, who left to pursue other opportunities.
Hughes will be responsible for sports coverage for the Faribault, Northfield and Kenyon papers. He will report to Regional Managing Editor Suzanne Rook.
Gerhardt rejoined APG in early February after two years off to work for a magazine publisher, taking the sports reporter post in Waseca County. Prior to that he spent more than a dozen years in southern Minnesota newsrooms and fields of play. And while Steele County may appear to be unfamiliar territory to the Prior Lake native and University of Minnesota grad, Gerhardt’s stops in Albert Lea, Long Prairie, Red Wing and Northfield, and his work with the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Association has given him an in-depth knowledge of Owatonna, Medford and Blooming Prairie sports and storylines.
“The Owatonna area has a rich tapestry of success in sports and I look forward to tapping into that and the opportunity to add to that tapestry by documenting local teams’ continued success,” said Gerhardt. “There is much to write about in the area and I’m excited to tell those stories of exceptional athletes, teams, coaches, volunteers and those who contribute to athletics.”
Hughes, an Indiana University graduate, grew up in San Jose, California, which maybe surprisingly prepared him well for sports reporting in the state of hockey. An admitted Sharks fan, hockey was the only professional game in town, and it drew in the Cali kid. In high school, he played soccer and baseball, before that he swam competitively. And like Gerhardt, he’s got a wealth of experience with the Big 9, Gopher and Big South.
“When I started at the Northfield News in December 2017, Nick showed me the ropes and was a constant source of help and information,” said Hughes. “Three years later, I can think of no better partner to help provide the best possible sports coverage for our communities in Northfield, Faribault, Owatonna, Waseca and beyond.”
Gerhardt and Hughes won’t just lead APG’s efforts in print. They’ll direct social media online coverage for sports, and help devise ways to grow the audience online, which gets larger by the month.
In discussing APG’s new structure, Gerhardt, too, looks forward to collaborating Hughes, who he hired in 2017, to direct the brunt of APG’s sports coverage.
“Michael’s a professional who’s dedicated to the craft of community journalism,” he said. “He’s a talented writer who deeply cares about covering high school sports and producing high-quality stories. He and I are committed to a team-first approach, which is exactly what we’ll need to make this partnership a success.”
Industry-wide changes and reader expectations will continue to play a major role in APG’s sports coverage. One thing that won’t change is coverage of local teams and athletes.
“The realities of sports coverage in 2020 have shifted, whether that’s because of deadlines or an ability for everyone to find results online as they happen,” said Hughes. “Moving forward, readers can expect a sports section that’s dominated by personality profiles, features and analytical previews rather than a simple recounting of what’s already happened. We want to reward subscribers with a level of coverage about our local teams that isn’t available anywhere else.”