John Affleck, a journalist and leader at The Associated Press who has served most recently as sports enterprise editor/interim deputy sports editor for the news organization that produces content seen by half the world’s population on a given day, was named the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State on Aug. 6, 2013.
Affleck served as a reporter, editor and national manager at the AP, working regularly with all of the organization’s major editorial departments during his 22-year career. In his most recent role before joining the University faculty, he helped manage day-to-day operations for the roughly 70-member domestic sports team. He directed coverage of the Lance Armstrong saga, coordinated efforts with the news department as the Jerry Sandusky case unfolded and guided the U.S. sports report last summer when the AP’s sports team was split between Olympic and non-Olympic coverage.
Affleck has directed coverage of college football and the last five Bowl Championship Series national title games. He also oversaw the wire service’s 2013 Final Four coverage and was a key editor at the World Cup in South Africa. He also represented the AP at the 2012 Associated Press Sports Editors convention and at APSE’s sessions this year with commissioners from major pro sports leagues. He has also covered the Super Bowl and the World Series.
Reporters and projects under Affleck’s direct supervision have been honored in dozens of regional and national contests, and have earned awards from a wide array of groups, including the nation’s education writers, religion reporters and the lesbian and gay journalists association. Work under his guidance has captured the AP’s top internal prizes for news enterprise, sports enterprise and sports features.
As the Knight Chair, Affleck will serve as director of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, housed in the College of Communications. The Curley Center, a first-of-its-kind academic endeavor in U.S. higher education when founded in 2003, explores issues and trends in sports journalism through instruction, programming and research.
As Affleck transitions to higher education, he brings a lifelong passion for education and sports journalism to the position. He worked for the AP in Albany, N.Y., Buffalo, N.Y., and Cleveland before moving to the organization’s main office in New York. Along with his leadership and mentoring young reporters, Affleck also has earned writing awards himself. He brings an appreciation of journalism fundamentals and an understanding of the need for innovation in the changing multimedia journalism environment to the position.
As director of the Center, Affleck will: teach several courses, including sports writing; serve as a voice about sports journalism issues and trends; and coordinate the Center’s programming, which includes a variety of partnerships at Penn State and off campus for guest lectures and special events. Guests for Center programming have included Christine Brennan, Bob Costas, John Feinstein, Brent Musburger, Bob Ryan and more.
Affleck grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., and has been a competitive runner for most of his life, once finishing in the Top 500 at the Boston Marathon. He was ranked nationally as a master’s competitor by USATF in four events (800 meters, 1,500 meters, 3,000 meters and the mile) as recently as 2005. He is married to Jessica Ancker, an assistant professor at the Center for Healthcare Informatics and Policy at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.