By David Scott
Boston Sports Media
Just one year after a change at the helm for the Boston Globe sports desk, the cross-town, Evil Yellow Empire is about to undergo a similar shift as word has begun filtering out that 10-year Herald sports editor Mark Torpey is leaving the paper.
Scott’s Shots has been told by two separate industry insiders that Torpey is accepting the buyout offer negotiated last month through the Newspaper Guild’s discussions with Herald Publisher Pat Purcell. The deal, according to the Globe’s report at the time, would afford 10 year-plus employees “. . . two weeks’ pay for each year of service (up to 30.5 years), 18 additional weeks of pay, and $12,000.”
Should the shift take place, it is almost a certainty that Torpey’s successor would come from within the current sports department, with the likely favorites being current Deputy Sports Editor, Hank Hryniewicz or fellow sports desk editor, Mark Murphy (not to be confused with the paper’s NBA writer of the same name).
Probably Torpey’s most memorable brush with the public came when Herald writer Ed Gray ‘came out’ back in 2003. At the time, Torpey told the AP: “We support Eddie and we just thought it was the right thing to do to give him the platform to express his views.”
A quick search of “Torpey” on Yahoo! brings up little else besides the Gray matter, which is probably the way it should be for a sports editor. But that too, is changing. Just as the traditional magazine editor long ago abandoned editing duties, the traditional newspaper editor (even in sports) is going to need to be a bit more business-side friendly (see: Joe Sullivan of the Globe on NESN’s Sports Plus/Minus during NCAA tournament time.)
Because of that evolving job description (which should include some large elements of Web story packaging and brain-storming), there is sure to be speculation that Torpey is being gently pushed out out of his position in an effort to infuse new life into the staff, the pages and the product. It happens every time a business decision is made to an editorial manager (see the Today show for a recent example).
Whatever the internal politics may be, there is no doubt that in a perfect world, Torpey would leave the building at One Herald Square alongside the likes of Michael Gee, George Kimball and Kevin Mannix. In doing so, the Herald might be left with a streamlined-enough crew to go ahead and attack the Globe where they are most vulnerable: The Internet.
The radical proposal I would offer to the new Sports Editor (and I’ll even buy lunch to discuss the potential moves): Divide your staff. Take, for example, Mazz, Felger and Callahan and Bulpett and put them up as WEB-ONLY guys. Then, use your Old Media ‘beat guys’ to do both regular game and day-to-day coverage, but add a blog-style, daily offering from the Horrigan, Silverman, Mike Reiss (at sister-paper Metro West), Mark Murphy guys who have all this info that sometime gets, to borrow a phrase, “left on the cutting room floor.”
It’s rough, I know and might take some massaging, but as sure as the water’ll be lapping the Hull shores, there is a need for some major re-configuring and time enough has already been wasted.
Whether that change is initiated by Torpey, a current underling or someone from the outside, it is a process that needs to begin sooner, rather than later.
David Scott writes from a seaside shanty on the shores of Hull, Mass. and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org