Boston Globe

Sports Media Weekly No. 172- Chad Finn, The Boston Globe & Ian Eagle, CBS Sports

The weather is beginning to turn cooler nationwide but we try to turn up the heat here on Sports Media Weekly (SMW)

Joining Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites and me for the news segment this week is Boston Globe sports media columnist Chad Finn.

We begin the show with what has been the most-talked about story over the last week, the developing saga of Dolphins’ offensive lineman Richie Incognito and his alleged bullying of teammate Jonathan Martin.  We look back at how the NFL’s network partners covered the story and the exclusive interview with Incognito by Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer.

We bring it back to Boston and get Chad’s take on how the Boston sports media handled covering the Red Sox this season under John Farrell compared to 2012 with Bobby Valentine.

We wrap the segment looking at the continued success for ESPN during its college basketball marathon, which aired over the last two days.  It’s an opportunity for ESPN to capitalize on promoting college basketball during a slow period between the end of baseball season and the end of the college and pro football seasons.

Our second guest this week is SMW fave Ian Eagle of CBS Sports, among other media entities.  Ken talks with Ian about his frenetic announcing schedule, his relationship with NBA broadcast partner Mike Fratello, his broadcasting idols, and his knowledge of 1980’s sitcoms.

Sports Media Weekly No. 158- Chad Finn, The Boston Globe & Peter King, Sports Illustrated

Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites and I are back for another edition of Sports Media Weekly.

We are joined for our news segment this week by Chad Finn, sports media columnist for The Boston Globe.

We begin the program by looking at the announcement this week that NBC Sports and Yahoo! Sports will be collaborating on two new TV and online sports video projects, one of which debuts tomorrow.  The inclusion of rich media content is becoming more and more prevalent online and we agree that we’ll likely see more being produced by broadcast and web partners.

On a related note we look at the move by media outlets to create exclusive online content featuring their sports writing superstars.  Bill Simmons and ESPN began the trend with Grantland and now Peter King at Sports Illustrated and Peter Gammons are creating fresh content marketed around their personal brands.

We move to Boston sports media next, looking at how the Boston media handled the Aaron Hernandez arrest and the response by the Patriots.  We then delve into news of the launch next Monday of an online radio venture produced by the Boston Herald.

We finish the segment reflecting on the trail blazing career of Steve Bornstein, who pioneered television coverage of the NFL and will be retiring as head of the NFL Network next year.

We head back to the NFL and Ken’s interview with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King.  Ken talks to King about what it took to pull together his new NFL website on SI, MMQB.

Sports Media Weekly No. 141- Chad Finn, The Boston Globe

I am riding solo on this week’s edition of Sports Media Weekly as Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites had a previous engagement and could not join us.

I am joined on this abbreviated version of the show by Chad Finn, sports media columnist for the Boston Globe.  Chad and I kick-off the show talking championship week in college basketball and how this will be the last Big East Tournament under the current structure of the league. We tie that in to how the Big East became an important property for a new all-sports network called ESPN.

We then talk about CBS and Turner’s unveiling of its announcer pairings for the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and the minor changes made to its line-up.

We move to the official hiring today of Ray Lewis as a NFL analyst for ESPN.  We both agree that Lewis has the charisma to do well in his new role, but wonder how, or if, ESPN will use his exuberance on the air.

I get Chad’s opinion on the announcement of the launch of Fox Sports 1 last week…and we wrap the show talking Boston Sports Media, specifically the changes being made to the on-air roster over at sports talker WEEI.

Sports Media Weekly Podcast No. 95- Chad Finn, The Boston Globe

It’s a three man show on this week’s edition of the Sports Media Weekly Podcast.

Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites and I are joined for this show by Chad Finn, Sports Media Columnist for the Boston Globe. Over the course of the show we discuss the release of Peyton Manning by the Colts and the anticipated media frenzy in speculating where he will be playing football next season.  We all agree it is likely ESPN will be following the story in a way similar to when it covered Brett Favre’s multiple returns to the league.

We then spend some time talking college basketball on the eve of the NCAA Tournament.  We look at ESPN’s handling of Championship Week and the plans by CBS and Turner Sports to cover March Madness.

We then talk of the Boston sports media scene with Chad, specifically news made today by local sports talker WEEI.  We also touch upon the upcoming retirement of the Globe’s Bob Ryan and why Boston sports media beat is a fascinating one to cover.

Sports Media Weekly Podcast No. 75- Ian Eagle, CBS Sports

After a week off, Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites rejoins me for this week’s podcast.

We begin the show by looking at the World Series and the potential of it being one of the lowest rated Fall Classics ever.  We keep with the baseball talk to discuss the coverage in New England of the aftermath of the collapse by the Boston Red Sox.

Ken and I also talk about the relatively flat NFL ratings as well as the contract extension for Jon Gruden to stay with ESPN and Monday Night Football.

We also handicap who, among ESPN, NBC, and Fox, will likely be awarded the rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup when FIFA announces the winner later this week.

Our guest this week is Ian Eagle of CBS Sports, Tennis Channel, Yes Network, and Westwood One.  Ian talks about how his schedule has changed since he’s had to take time off from being the voice of the New Jersey Nets due to the NBA lockout.  Ian also talks about the current NFL season to date, his ability to remain a flexible personality, and his summer sportscasters camp.

Media Critics Need to Learn That There is a Gray Area

In the examination of a sports media entity, we need everything to be black and white.  There can be no areas of gray.  Every newspaper, TV network, radio station, or website is either toeing a company line, protecting the players, or writing with a perceived agenda.  I call B.S.

Media critics, fans, and other media outlets in New England are responding in black and white terms to an article written this week by Bob Hohler of the Boston Globe seeking to explain the unprecedented collapse of the 2011 Boston Red Sox.  I’m here to say the work of the Globe cannot be so easily defined.

When there is controversy surrounding a team, especially in a electric media market like Boston, the conspiracy theorists come out in full force.  And even though the Red Sox have won two world championships in the last seven years, they remain the patsy de jour among the big four professional sports teams in town

Fans in Boston have the right to question what led to the Red Sox blowing a nine game lead in the American League Wild Card race in September.  And the Boston Globe and other media outlets should be responsible for using their resources to answering those questions.  Hohler’s article attempted to do that.

Hohler did a good job in making sure everyone in the Red Sox organization was tagged with the blame for what took place on and off the field.  But because they’re the Boston Globe, there has to be more to the story.  There must be something they’re hiding or someone they’re protecting.  No gray area allowed.

Lets look at the accusations made against Hohler and the Globe and make a realistic attempt to see the likelihood they are true.

The biggest complaint about the article is that Hohler and the Globe wrote the piece on behalf of Red Sox ownership.  The Globe’s parent company, the New York Times, owns a minority stake in the team.

This accusation that the Globe does the bidding on behalf of the team is not new, but really, does anyone really think the corporate big wigs at the Times or the Red Sox ownership, pick-up the phone to Globe Sports Editor Joe Sullivan and have the following conversation?

“Joe, John Henry.”
“Yes Mr. Henry, how are you?
“Not so great Joe.  I need your help.  We’re looking to control the message concerning our late season swoon and we’re wondering if you’d put your best investigative reporter on the case, to, you know, make us look good?  It would mean a lot to us.”
“Sure Mr. Henry, not a problem.  I assume we can use the same ‘unnamed sources’ we’ve used in the past?
“Absolutely.  We’ll be in touch.”
“Have a great day Mr. Henry.”
“I will now, Joe.  Thanks.”

How silly does that sound?  No editor of a newspaper should let that happen, no matter what the connections or bottom line dictate.  Are there perceived agendas with some media outlets?  Absolutely.  And the Globe has been tagged with them for years.  But I doubt it would jeopardize its integrity to partake in this type of practice.

Another bone of contention made by the critics of the Globe and other media outlets is why the clubhouse behavior of some of the players, specifically pitchers Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Jon Lester, was not published earlier?  To me that’s an easy one to answer.  The actions of the pitchers allegedly took place DURING the game.  Even though the media have liberal access to the clubhouse, they do not have that access DURING he game.  Even if there were rumblings about the indescretions of the pitching corps, no reporter would have had first hand knowledge of that activity.  The news on this began to leak from sources after the season ended.

Speaking of sources, critics also looked with a curious eye towards the Globe’s use of anonymous sources.  Here’s an example of people not understanding how journalism works.  It’s always preferable to get named sources for a story.  But there are times when sources for a story fear for their job, or even their lives, if their identity were to be made public.  It is better to keep those names quiet in exchange for the information.  That’s why the Globe and others use anonymous sources.  It bothers me why people still don’t understand this.

Some will say, “Why should reporters care about revealing sources or burning bridges in the locker room if the truth comes out?”   Bloggers and sports radio callers (and even some hosts) make this claim often and still don’t get it.  Beat reporters for a club rely on one thing, above all else, in getting information on the team.  That is access.  If they are not allowed access, or are shunned by members of the club, then they cannot do their job.  Not being able to do their job leads to their termination.

Are some reporters too close to players, coaches, and owners?  Yes.  But it should not hinder their ability to ask difficult questions when needed.  Some reporters are too close to be able to walk that fine line.  Those reporters should be replaced.  Most can work that balance and do a good job of it.

I will criticize Hohler for his unnecessary implication that Terry Francona’s martial problems, along with his concern for his son’s safety as a soldier in Afghanistan, and his alleged reliance on pain killers played a role in the demise of the club.  I’ve always been a proponent of keeping one’s personal life out of the news, unless brought into play by the player or coach.  Everyone has issues in their life that need not be made public in the paper.

The media today have too much pressure to report on every nuance of the team they cover.  That’s not fair. People take too much stock into how a story is reported when instead they should focus on the story itself. Not everything needs to be turned into the next big controversy.  It is not always black and white.

Gray is not such a bad color.  We should all wear it once in a while.

Is ESPN’s Local Surge Unfair to Newspapers?

I read a pretty interesting piece the other day on the Associated Press Sports Editors website from Boston Globe sports editor Joe Sullivan.

The article was titled “Fending off the ESPN.com Invasion.”

It’s a small window into the world of the Globe circa August when things seemed darkest for the paper.

The Globe was up for sale, its biggest union forced to make concessions by the millions with layoffs looming large.

Worse still, ESPN had decided it was about time to take a far more active role in the Boston sports media landscape with the launch of ESPNBoston.com

Sullivan was obviously most troubled by the incursion of ESPN into his market because the media giant could offer better pay and benefits than the Globe to go with infinitely more job security than any newspaper can currently promise.

ESPN also spirited away many of the Globe’s best people, though Sullivan does not name them by name.

For my part, the departure of Mike Reiss and Chris Forsberg hasn’t dented my readership of Boston.com.

Though Reiss’ Pieces was among my first reads each morning, I still return to the Boston.com NFL blog—now titled Extra Points—in addition to the excellent reporting that Mike now offers at his ESPNBoston home.

I do sympathize with the tone of the article. In the darkest times newspapers have ever seen, a new national competitor setting up shop in every big city isn’t exactly a dream scenario for sports editors.

Still, the competition hasn’t diluted the market to my eyes. Boston is voracious in its consumption of sports media and can always support another content outlet.

In the last 18 months WEEI.com, Comcast Sportsnet, 98.5 The Sports Hub, and ESPNBoston have all launched or gone through a complete overhaul, replete with new content and new faces.

The issue I have with Sullivan here is that he treats the whole process as though ESPN might be doing something wrong.

As he wrote:

“As I considered the possibility that my staff would eviscerated. I began to think out loud: “How much is too much? Is it ethical for one new organization to offer jobs to so many people from a single news organization?”

ESPN was a member of APSE, so I thought, “Is it right for one member of a professional organization to try to attract so many staffers from another member organization.”

In short, yes, it is right. That’s perfectly legitimate when your organization can’t offer what your employees are worth. It’s the case in every business.

I’m not saying the Globe is unfair to its employees, by any stretch. Their retirement benefits packages were among the best in the business and the Globe made a point of honoring their best people with fitting lifetime contracts. The layoffs and cutbacks are a sign of the times, not the Globe’s commitment to its people.

But I am saying that, right now, the newspaper business is an unfair one, and there’s nothing happening to newspapers that they haven’t done to themselves. I love newspapers and journalism, but to begrudge ESPN for wanting the best people working for them because your organization, quite simply, can’t afford to keep them, is placing blame on the wrong shoulders.

I’m a firm believer in loyalty, especially in a business where any of us are incredibly grateful to anybody who can give us an opportunity. There’s a special kind of contempt for people who constantly jump between jobs in any business. But at the end of the day, it’s a business for employees as well as employers and you simply can’t fault any employee for taking a better, more secure offer.

As writers we have families, we have bills, we have loans. We, like any employee, want to know that our work is appreciated, but we also need to see that appreciation in the form of fair compensation.

Trust me, the job market is anything but fair right now. Most sports reporter gigs start out at  less than $25k per year, more with experience. How many businesses require a college degree and pay less?

Obviously, the best candidates and the best jobs are not always publicly advertised, but there haven’t been many high-profile writers changing shops in the past year.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that sports reporters—and reporters and editors of all beats—aren’t compensated as fairly as they would like. If a bigger, national outlet wants to enter the fray and is offering better compensation, I simply can’t see a reason why this should be rejected or called an “invasion.” They’re not Visigoths, they’re just a more profitable employer.

The Globe isn’t wanting for talented editors or prestige. The people who work there work there for a reason; they are some of the best in the business. But in a business that is balancing on an ever-thinning rope, that’s not enough.

Is it fair? Unfair? I don’t know. A fair world wouldn’t let newspapers fade away the way they are. But blaming ESPN for the lot of the newspaper business?

That doesn’t sound fair, either.

Sports Media Weekly Podcast #3- Chad Finn, Boston Globe

Time for our weekly look at what’s making news in sports media through our Sports Media Weekly podcast.  I am once again joined by Ken Fang from Fang’s Bites

We also have a guest on this week’s show as we are joined by Chad Finn, sports media columnist and editor at the Boston Globe and Boston.com.  Chad and I spend our time talking about the sports media climate in Beantown.

Also on the plate this week…Comcast’s potential bid to purchase NBC, the rights fees for the upcoming 2016 Olympics, the Versus/DirectTV dispute, and the announcing teams for TBS for the baseball Division Series…

Boston Globe Moves in Opposite Direction

Thanks to our friends at Boston Sports Media Watch for first posting this story.  Last week the Boston Globe launched a new print publication, called the OT.  It’s a sports weekly with more in-depth coverage of Boston’s four major sports teams.  Here is last week’s announcement of the publication’s launch.

The magazine has some top notch local columnists and beat writers.  Charles Pierce and Tony Massarotti are Beantown stalwarts.  Chad Finn once wrote in New Hampshire and has been successful in the sports blogsphere.  The beat writers all have followings.

Content isn’t the problem for me.  The medium is.  With newspapers and other print publications bleeding in red ink, and with more an more people getting this content online (most of the OT‘s content can also be found there), why in the world would the Globe spend more money to print this every week?  I understand that there is little to no extra money being spent on the writing talent, but will the ad revenue and newstand sales even cover the cost to print this each week?

The concept of the content is a good one.  But it should stay as another online product for the paper.  Printing online is really cheap and the Globe could easily make a profit with the web-only advertising that you could sell with it. 

When are papers going to learn that what we see selling on the street will be extinct by the time my generation passes?  Yet the Globe feels that a new print product will improve their bottom line.  Good for them if they’re right.  I have my doubts.