Donna Ditota marks another first for women in sports journalism (Editorial Board Opinion)

Congratulation to Staff Writer Donna Ditota for being named New York City Co-Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association for her coverage of Syracuse University basketball.

Sorry, Donna. We know you’re not thrilled with all the attention. We’re still going to brag about you.

Donna is the first woman from New York State to be so honored since the group began giving out awards in 1959. (How come women are still racking up firsts in 2022?) She’s not only the third upstate New Yorker to win it. Mike Waters, Donna’s colleague on SU basketball pace, was the second in 2019.

When she started covering basketball more than 30 years ago for the afternoon Herald-Journal, the work revolved around daily and weekly print deadlines. The pace became quiet enough in the offseason to allow Donna to cover other sports.

No more. Social media, an explosion of digital competitors, and intense fan interest in every rookie and transfer have turned the pace of college basketball into a year-round grind. You could feel it from the amount of work Donna did – but you would never know from the quality of her writing, or her a dynamic presence on social networks, or his frequent and generous interactions with readers and fans.

They see what Donna’s sportswriter peers have acknowledged: she knows basketball and works her pace tirelessly. It takes many forms: the written word, first and always with Donna, but also via tweets, videos, podcasts and whatever platform comes next. (Or came and went; remember when Donna had fun with vines?)

There might be other college basketball towns where a hometown kid (outside of Bishop Grimes) covers the hometown team for the hometown newspaper – but we don’t know many. . This familiarity is so… Syracuse. Like meeting Jim and Juli Boeheim in Wegmans without batting an eyelid.

Don’t let that familiarity blind you to Donna’s groundbreaking career as a woman in sports and sportswriting, and as a teacher and mentor to other women entering this still male-dominated profession.

Regardless of the awards, our readers are the winners. They benefit from Donna’s expertise, institutional memory, insatiable curiosity, deep empathy and love for telling stories. We couldn’t be prouder.

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