The News & Observer sports department welcomed back a familiar face when Jessaca Giglio shifted from assistant metro editor to assistant sports editor.
She replaces Chris Wright, who left Oct. 3 to join the Saturday Down South website — which is based in Longwood, Fla., just outside of Orlando — as film room editor. The site covers SEC football and describes itself as the “top destination for SEC fans both inside and outside the Southeast.”
Before coming to The N&O in June 2012, Wright was editor of BoomerTennis.net. Before that, he was assistant sports editor at two newspapers, first at The Miami Herald, and then at The Indianapolis Star.
With his wife, Jennifer Wright, the A1 designer at the Tampa Bay Times, she and their two sons and their daughter lived in Clearwater, Fla. He spent about four days a week (including every weekend) with them while telecommuting and three or four days a week in Raleigh. Via email, he called the situation hectic and expensive.
It was an arrangement he set up with N&O sports editor Steve Ruinsky when he took the job.
“Never missed one of my sons’ football games,” said Wright, whose sons are 14 and 11. “Plenty of times when I had my laptop with me in the stands — and once on the sidelines while I was handling chains. But Steve was great about allowing me to maintain both. Plenty of people have much tougher situations.”
Wright said that the arrangement might not have worked if he had not grown up in Cary. He said that it was exciting to come home and lead The N&O’s ACC coverage, and also difficult to leave.
“It was crazy, but mostly doable because a) I knew the teams, the history, etc., b) I had really good reporters and sports editor and c) we kicked a ton of butt. Nobody in the market touches us, and that will continue with Jess,” Wright said. “Proud of the work we did, particularly the special sections.”
Giglio was first listed in the print edition as assistant sports editor Oct. 13.
“I do agree with Chris in that no one in the market touches us when it comes to sports coverage,” Giglio said via email.
Her last name should be familiar to N&O sports readers. Her husband is Joe Giglio, the N&O’s N.C. State beat writer. He won’t report to her, but rather to Ruinsky.
“Jessaca will edit ACC sports (her husband, NC State writer Joe Giglio, will report to me),” Ruinsky wrote in an announcement emailed to the N&O staff Sept. 29. She officially started in the position at the end of September.
“As long as I’ve worked in newsrooms, there have been people who have been married to each other,” said John Drescher, the executive editor of The N&O. “We want the best, most talented, most knowledgeable people we can get, and sometimes they’re married to each other. And obviously you need a reporting situation where one doesn’t report to the other.
“But I think Jessaca was the best candidate for that job and she’s well-qualified for it, so it’s incumbent on us to work out the reporting structure, and we’ve done that,” Drescher said.
Jessaca Giglio says there will be no conflict. “Joe and I have worked together for about 20 years, including 16 years in sports. It’s never been an issue for us,” she said.
She isn’t the first woman to have a top-level position in The N&O sports department. Sherry Johnson was the sports editor in the mid-2000s.
Giglio, who was a scholarship tennis player at Campbell, first worked at The N&O as a sports agate clerk in 1994 and has previously worked on sports pages as a lead sports designer, assistant design editor and night sport editor.
She won an N.C. Press Association design award, Society of News Design awards and contributed to several Associated Press Sports Editors awards during her earlier time in the sports department. There also were numerous awards for the department during Wright’s time as assistant sports editor.
In 2012, shortly after The N&O’s copy editing and design duties shifted to the McClatchy Publishing Center in Charlotte, she began working in the business section as Shop Talk editor and retail columnist, and became assistant metro editor in 2013.
Her vacated assistant metro editor job hasn’t been filled.
Tim Stephens’ retirement last summer as high schools sports editor after nearly 50 years at The N&O and the Raleigh Times vacated another important position. At least in the short term, that position won’t be filled, Drescher said.
For now, J. Mike Blake, who has won 12 NCPA awards, is coordinating high school football coverage. This is in addition to his duties as sports editor of The Cary News and the Southwest Wake News, two of The N&O’s twice-weekly community newspapers.
Wright’s move to Saturday Down South as film room editor will certainly provide a contrast to his what his N&O duties were.
“I do a lot of editing and writing, but my specific role is to work with former players to break down film, bring their insight to life through words and videos. It’s a cool gig with a huge, huge following,” Wright said. “And SaturdayDownSouth.com is cooler than anything I’ve been a part of. As big as we think UNC-Duke at Cameron is — and I grew up with it, was a kid at Carmichael when K was nothing more than the 11th letter in the alphabet — it doesn’t come close to Auburn-Alabama football. It’s not even in the same league (or conference).”
Unlike many newspapers, where Wright says 5,000 page views for a story are good, more than 300,000 people viewed his first story on the site.
“I enjoy the pace and freedom to experiment that websites provide/demand,” Wright said. “It’s an ideal fit for my creative side.”
And, of course, it means no more traveling between two states on a weekly basis.