Interview: Bill Dwyre

Bill Dwyre has overseen the "awards-driven sports section" of the Los Angeles Times for the past 25 years and has been recognized numerous times with accolades from the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Press Foundation, and others.

Bill Dwyre has overseen the "awards-driven sports section" of the Los Angeles Times for the past 25 years and has been recognized numerous times with accolades from the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Press Foundation, and others.

What makes a compelling sports piece, he says, is the same as what makes any good news article: the people behind the stories, personal challenges, and the money trail.

PRWeek: Other than traditional games coverage, what sparks your interest?

Bill Dwyre: Good stories. I'll give you an example. We had a fighter collapse - still in a coma - at a Saturday night undercard at the Staples Center. It was a very tragic situation. A kid from Mexico who went up to fight an undercard - he makes very little money - takes a few blows to the head. We're doing a reconstruct on that. Where's he from? What is his family like? Why did he do this? What are his friends saying about this? How lonely was it to fly from Ju?rez, Mexico, to LA when you don't speak English? Those kinds of stories.

PRWeek: Have the recent sports controversies - the NBA brawl, the NHL lockout - impacted how fans feel about the games?

Dwyre: I think fans are angry now. The whole tone of a Dodger game, for example, is much different than it used to be. There's less whisper and church kind of respect for these athletes than there once was. So it makes our job more interesting, more difficult, because it's our job to answer the question, "Why is this?" Or try to.

PRWeek: What makes a good sports PR person?

Dwyre: A good PR person is one who has enough respect to demand an answer. The worst thing that you can get from a guy like me is no response or silence. And I try to never do that. I can be a little bit caustic and a little bit crusty in my answers - and I don't intend to be mean - but I have been known to say, "Not only will I not seek that as a story line, but that's a stupid idea."

Sometimes I think PR people think that if they have a nice charity cause, and they can float it out for you - seven Dodgers are visiting crippled children in the hospital - you're supposed to fall all over yourself. [Good PR people] have a better sense for a storyline that transcends that event or that sport. Those are the people who will sell me.

PRWeek: To what extent are sports sections interested in covering the business of sports?

Dwyre: There's so much money that you can't not cover it. I think a lot of sports sections don't cover it and [just] do the games stories as if it doesn't exist. [For example,] Phil Anschutz is one of the major sports players in this town; he owns Staples Center, he owns the Kings, our hockey team; he owns a big piece of the Lakers; and I think he has the first option to buy them when someone wants to sell them. He's a billionaire; he's a player. The business of sports is a story. I can't avoid it, and I do not want to avoid it. Any sports editor who thinks he can avoid it because it's difficult, complicated, and doesn't involve runs, hits, RBI, and touchdowns, is making a mistake.

Name: Bill Dwyre

Publication: LA Times

Title: Sports editor

Preferred contact method: bill.dwyre@latimes.com

Website: latimes.com/sports

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