DALLAS — Jon Wilner, a veteran sportswriter for the San Jose Mercury News, has been awarded the 2013 FWAA Beat Writer of the Year Award for his coverage of the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast college sports.
The FWAA’s Beat Reporter of the Year Award is based on a comprehensive look at the way a person covers the beat and encompasses all categories of coverage over a period of time.
Wilner, 46, has worked at the Mercury News since 2000 and has held various reporting roles in the college scene for the newspaper and its website, covering Stanford, Bay Area colleges and Pac-12 beats. Wilner’s highly popular blog, “College Hotline,” receives millions of page views annually.
He has claimed numerous Associated Press Sports Editors awards. Wilner has had a vote in the Associated Press Top 25 football and basketball polls for more than a decade.
“Jon has embraced digital possibilities to cross platforms without sacrificing the standard he has met for nearly a quarter century,” said Malcolm Moran, director of the National Sports Journalism Center and chairman of the FWAA committee that selected Wilner as the 2013 winner. “His work has been based upon authoritative reporting, a model for anyone in the industry.”
Wilner grew up in Bethesda, Md., and attended the University of Pennsylvania. He worked at the Arizona Daily Star from 1989 to 1995 as the Arizona basketball beat writer. From 1995 to 2000, he was the UCLA football and basketball beat writer at the Los Angeles Daily News.
“My initial reaction was one of great surprise and deep gratitude,” Wilner said upon learning he had won the award. “That quickly gave way to a panic attack: Please, please, please let me be up to date on my FWAA dues!”
The previous winners of this award are the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Doug Lesmerises in 2011 and co-winners Mark Blaudschun, formerly of The Boston Globe, and Steve Wieberg, formerly of USA Today, in 2012. Wilner becomes the fourth winner for his excellent reporting.
“Wilner’s ‘Hotline’ blog is the best thing going on the West Coast,” said FWAA President Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times. “It is a must read for Pac-12 fans. He covers the Bay Area teams, San Jose, Cal, Stanford, with authority. He has been on the forefront of the Pac 12 Network and the league’s cable distribution problems with DirecTV. … He is so good at digging out the details of a situation with the use of his sources and resources.”
Wilner lives in San Jose with his wife, Rachel, and two children, Anna, 6, and Jacob, 1. He will be recognized at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, at the Newport Beach Marriott before the Bowl Championship Series 1-2 Game that evening at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.