By David Scott
Boston Sports Media
• In the interest of Fairness in Journalism Criticism, it’s time for Scott’s Shots to once again offer up our thoughts on running the toy department, this time to the city’s newest sports chief.
That means my “Dear Sully” letter of 13 months ago is now becoming a Dear Hank (Hryniewicz) missive. Two things before we start: H-Squared is heretofore to be referred to as Hank Herald (no sense risking the misspelling of his I-before-E conflagration of un nom) and more importantly, this ‘letter’ is based on one premise and one premise alone: The Globe’s use of the web and modern technology is PITIFUL.
And away we go. . .
Hey Hank Herald:
Congrats on the new gig. I’ve heard good things about you and your smiling, bearded mug used on Wednesday to trumpet your arrival gave equal emanations of Grizzly and Teddy Bear. That’s always a good combo to have when you’re dealing with the egos attached to the bylines and copy desk chairs. Be firm, be fair and most of all, be forgiving. There’s roughly 365 days of great stories out there – if you miss one on Monday, make up for it on Tuesday.
Or better yet, make up for it on the Web.
Which brings us to Mike Reiss, a young gun in your extended family who has just about single-handedly revolutionized major team coverage for this region (and beyond, we’d argue). Reiss – who I do consider a close friend – doesn’t talk numbers with the likes of me, but you can surely get them pretty easily. He’s getting eyeballs, I know that. His blog is mandatory if you’re a Pats pontificator of any merit.
Every weekday (and often on the weekends), Reiss gives tomorrow’s Patriots news, today. Everyone else is playing catch-up from there on out. He has set himself up to be the first stop for everything Patriots and he has done it through hard work and use of technology.
If Reiss’s Pieces didn’t break new ground, it most certainly started the smoothing-out process for the long and winding road ahead.
(Personally, I’d grab Reissy from his spot at the MetroWest, team him with Michael Felger-Underwood and let Felgie slide into more of a general columnist role during the “off-season” for the Pats. With that one simple shift of resources, you clearly bury the Globe in Pats coverage by pouncing on the slowly-developing Jerome Solomon and the overly-bitter Ron Borges.
Advantage on Pats coverage, in one move: The Herald – ergo, you, Hank.
(Okay, one more tangential element: The buzz is that the Club of 35 was the least bloody way to trim the books and begin the process of making the Herald sellable. If that’s the case, then a lot of these moves suggested within are going to be made precipitously more difficult if we’re looking at a Major League Cleveland Indians-style sell-off.
All that said, there’s no reason you can’t still start the shift to a web-based entity – flip the entire newspaper model upside down, essentially – as long as the Upstairs Folk are on board. And they should be, because anything that uses the web more efficiently makes the product more attractive to a deep-pocketed buyer.
And now, back to your immediate, immediate concerns.)
Next, you have every beat writer file something by 3 p.m. in a blog-style notebook. If they don’t like the idea, you can show them the pile of pink slips that just flew out the door. Or the pile of resumes that you recently inherited in your new desk’s drawer.
I got five guys I can recommend off the top of my head for every beat in town.
A midday blog (filing) is more work for the writers – agreed and understood. But it’s the only way you progress in this rapidly progressing marketplace.
If you need to get some more money flowing you have to urge the biz side to get sponsors. True, not enough folks would subscribe to “EXCLUSIVE WEB CONTENT” from Mazz, Callahan or Felgie – but they’d read Callahan Tunnel Vision brought to you by Dunkin’ Donuts. With that sponsor revenue you give a percentage to the writers and acknowledge (for a change) that quality AND quantity will be rewarded. You can make the numbers work. You just about have to.
Are you telling me that Buckley and Mazz couldn’t do a five minute podcast every week that is sponsored by Tweeter or even – GASP! – WEEI? Let’s not kid ourselves, we’re all in bed with each other in this new media world (mainstream and against-the-stream alike). Get over your big bad-selves and start to get some multi-platform partnerships going.
(It’s at this point where an old school editor says: What? You want me to work with the business side and create content that brings in revenue?
Yes. That’s exactly what the new age editor is supposed to be doing. You’re not the wall between church and state anymore: You’re the liaison. And Hank, if you’re not comfortable in that role you’re going to find yourself following Mark Torpey out of Yellow Box Headquarters in no time and with no one to blame but your Hankness.)
Okay – take a breath, my friend. I probably came at you a little strong there. Point is, you need to use the Web as if it were you’re only master worthy of serving. No story should be left without an interactive tag – be it a chat that will take place, a “blog”-type scroll for comments from the readers or a means of purchasing tickets to the event being highlighted. If the story doesn’t have life on the web, the story needs to be re-thought. Combine your two entities – print and electronic – and use them like no one ever has before.
Oh, and as far as the line-up you’re left with? The popular, trendy catch-all for that situation is to say: “It is what it is.”
Maybe you need to let Steroid Bryant go a bit more angry. He’s shown signs of being able to rabble rouse. Or maybe Callahan needs to be the Hatchet Man at all times. It could be something as simple as finding a young buck guy in his mid-20s that has the cajones (and the lifestyle) to be a Hunter Ess in the Internet Age. Jim Caple has tried it and failed at ESPN.com and so has the woeful Kieran Darcy who stepped all over himself for what should have been a simple T&A of some NFL CheerWhores, earlier this week. But a new, improved Boston Sports Guy (circa 1997) wouldn’t be the worst thing to build your brand on for the future.
As for the remaining staffers, it would appear (as a respected industry insider observed this week) that Buck is the face of your sports page right now.
We’ve grown to love what Buck does and maybe you can ride him a little more and spread him around a bit, but there also needs to be an anti-Buck. Too bad Howie Carr couldn’t slide over to the back of the paper. The Pols keep giving him such golden material, he’d be a fool to ever leave.
Your best bet would be to steal a guy from the New York Post – George King comes to mind. Someone to come in to town and be the bombastic, yet authoritative and be unnerved by athletes who despise him. You might call it a Muckraker. My business quadrant of the brain calls it a Money Maker.
The rest of the line-up is going to need to step up just on the sheer fact that the bench is thinner now than ever. Let Karen Guregian grind on some feature stories and let’s stop pretending she’s a major daily columnist. And get some oomph into that back page. “One fell swoop” on Thursday should have been something like ‘Wake Sleeps’ or ‘Just Play Olerud.” Have some fun with it – attitude sells. Humorous attitude sells absolutely.
It’s not easy Hank. I feel your pain (try the Rolaids cherry chewies. Better than a Starburst with more benefit to the gastric system). It’d be easy to get all rah-rah and rally the troops to keep on keeping on. But this is not the time to go with the status quo. That’s why 35 people were pushed out while many others were left dangling. The time for inaction has passed. Your paper, The Globe and countless other print relics have ignored or misused the Internet for long enough.
It’s time to integrate and motivate. Time for radical change to ensure a reasonable future. Time for Hank to hit a homer.
As always, if any of this sounds halfway plausible, give me a call. I’m in the Hull book. Your corporate card buys lunch, my confounding ideas get explained. Maybe you even get the urge to bring me in for some “consulting.” We can do big things, I know it.
Good luck, Hank. You’re not walking into the depths of Hell, but I don’t see no white fluffy clouds either.
Challenge the norm, Hank. And hank the challenge Norm.
And yeah, one last time:
• A midweek, 1 p.m. sun-splashed game at Fenway on the radio. A Genoa/turkey sangwich, a can of Canada Dry and the Thursday Herald on a porch with a water view. And a walkoff homer into the black backdrop seats.
Sounds like summer to me.
• If the NHL doesn’t wind up on Spike TV, it doesn’t stand a chance of surviving and the nimrods at Spike don’t even realize it. The NHL would do for Spike, what the NFL did for FOX.
And I’ll fight ya tooth and nail on that one. (Coach Myer is still in my soul after the Gator Gathering for Gator Revivalists we caught last week).
Thanks, by the way, to all those who took a moment to let us know how much you enjoyed the Gainesville gallop. Not for nothing, but it’s the kind of stuff I could be providing full time for one of you suckers.
• Long-time Friend of Shots, Dave Doyle (another in the long line of young Globe guys who desreved a better fate at the paper) has landed in Seattle and reports that things are going just fine. He’s also started up a worthwhile Blog at: http://davedoyle.blogspot.com/ And I ain’t just sayin’ that ‘cuz he’s kind enough to link to Shots. Check it out – it’s better than the crap you’re reading currently.
• A major ruckus is boiling over in San Francisco and as usual, it’s a whole lot of nothing over a little bit of something. You can check out the video at: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/06/01/MNdisclaimer01.DTL.
The one thing I’ll say in defense of the Media Relations guy, Kirk Reynolds, he probably kept his intended audience’s attention (Pro Athletes of the 21st Century) and that’s a huge victory for any PR guy. Reynolds went overboard – and clearly had a lot of time AND access to naked women (neither of which make him a bad dude).
Reynolds told the SF Chronicle (how great is their sports-related coverage this past year?): “I don’t have regrets about the idea of trying to make it connect to the audience I’m trying to connect it to,” he said. “The whole idea of the tape was to inform our players about things important for them to know.
“Did I push it too far? I did,” Reynolds said. “I didn’t make this for public consumption. The ideas of the tape are appropriate for the locker room — though some of the subjects were inappropriate for the values of this organization, and mine frankly.”
He’s got to go down for the production (he’s pursuing other opportunities), but that’s not saying he’s not a creative mind who has a future in media training of some sort. Just not in SanFran.
• Green Boxer Metro page wise-acre, Brian McGrory has been rolling lately and it makes you wonder why he isn’t always so damn good. Between last week’s weather piece and this week’s New Hampshire Tolls column, the guy brought back memories of a mid-80s Barnicle (pre-lapse of judgment and subsequent fall from grace).
• ESPN hired an Ombudsman this week, whose son produces one of the Network’s anchor shows – “Around the Horn.” Nothing like showing blatant conflict of interest right from the get-go. No pretenses, no doubts.
• Which reminds me: I’d make a hell of an Ombudsman. I’ve been pissing off my bosses and holding them accountable for an entire career. Hence, my lack of a career.
• A little birdie gave us word of the impending marriage of CN8 Talent (with a CAPS LOCK ‘T’) John Carchedi, the most unassuming guy in all of TV Land. No truth to the rumor that Ed Berliner is officiating the ceremony and concluding the vows with: “Rock On True Believers.”. . . And now that we’ve mentioned two-thirds of the CN8 talent pool, why not give a shameless plug to the Burton Brother with the Mostest, Phil. . . Can you tell Shots was lost on Amory Street last night and wandered into the CN8 complex? It never ceases to amaze me that whenever we are in-house the baseball brain of Mike Petraglia is also hovering around. P-Trag, as we might call him if we ever called him, was trying to convince us that ‘Roger Clemens back in Boston’ is not yet out-of-the-question. For our sake, let’s hope it is. That would be an insufferable few months of Shaughnasty regurgitating old Clem Columns.
• So, My Lone Known Female Reader That’s Not Related to Me chimes in the other night and berates me for my use of “fat chicks” in last week’s entry from Gainesville. She being a “slender chick” I got confused and immediately pose the question: “When did you become the guardian for good-looking, fat chicks in Gainesville?”
“I’m not,” she persisted, “I don’t care about fat as much as I do, ‘chicks.’”
Broads. I shoulda used “broads.” I just knew it.
At least she reads. And I did miss her birthday, so I should cut her some slack.
Happy B-Day, my longtime love. You’re as beautiful as were in the glimmering reflection of Lake Oldham all those summers ago.
• He’s lost his freakin’ mind now. No doubt.
• The Boston Sports Guy spends so damn much time explaining what he’s going to be doing with his time and space for the next few weeks that we wind up wondering why he doesn’t just do it and not talk about it so damn much. Check out this “excuse” from May 23: “Starting this week, I’m sliding into a new schedule geared around my Page 2 columns, which will run regularly on Wednesdays and Fridays (and maybe even three times a week, depending on what’s happening). I’m going to use the Cowbell space for smaller bits that don’t fit in a column – book reviews, thoughts on movies or TV shows, quick reactions to time-sensitive material, Celtics and Red Sox stuff and so on. But the majority of my time is going to be spent coming up with stuff for those Page 2 columns and my magazine column, which was the whole reason ESPN brought me back last spring in the first place. I’m also going to try to write a mailbag every 2-3 weeks, so much of the normal Cowbell fodder will end up in that mailbag, anyway.”
Sounds to us like a guy who’s getting sick of having to be all things to all people.
Someone needs to reign him in and get him focused, but it’s quite clear his ESPN.com editors don’t control BSG very much.
• Yep, we watched over an hour of the Indy 500 and it was strictly because of Danica Patrick. Can’t explain it much beyond that, but if there’s a cliché that first-year leading man, Todd Harris, missed, it was purely coincidental. It is the classic error of the young talent graced with the prime time opportunity who tries to make the dramatic even more dramatic by injecting hyperbole – let the event take care of itself with pictures and graphics (Danica’s mom and the list of Rookies to have won was a good start). . .Dr. Jerry Punch isn’t a doctor on Indy telecasts, we guess. So it confirms that his doctorate is actually in the Red Zone. . . Let me tell you something, we met Danica Patrick, spent a few hours with her and became thoroughly impressed by her: there was no way she was running out of fuel – ever, in any endeavor. . . Punch’s best line we heard: “Fuel pressure. Two words – fuel pressure.” He’ll always be Doc to us.
• Is it just me, or is NECN’s Anya Huneke the best thing in Boston TV? It’s gotta be the glasses she wears. Gotta be.
I tried to date a woman named Anya at UMass – she used to buy dirty water at the Spirit Haus when Shots was manning the registers back in the day. We got an invite to her apartment and everything – or maybe that was a delivery we were sent on. Whatever. She never showed enough interest, so I went back to trying to shag Collegian staffers (where we had business-side dreams and Arts Desk realities). But I often wonder: What if I had gotten Anya?
David Scott writes from a seaside shanty on the shores of Hull, Mass. and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org