Sep 25 2008
By David Scott
Boston Sports Media Watch
Long-time Providence Journal writer Sean McAdam is headed north on 95 to become a baseball columnist and writer for the Boston Herald.
Early Thursday afternoon, McAdam confirmed to Scott’s Shots that “[he and the Herald] are talking, but nothing is in place.” That changed later in the day and a memo confirming the departure was sent to ProJo staffers late Thursday afternoon. A separate source close to the negotiations also confirmed to Shots that McAdam will be on the Herald staff, possibly as soon as the start of the playoffs.
McAdam could not be reached for comment on Thursday night, as of post time.
Sources have confirmed to Shots that McAdam has been looking for new employment after the ProJo squashed McAdam’s outside work at WEEI 850 AM and ESPN.com over the summer. At least one upper management ProJoer, Shots is told by industry sources, found fault in McAdam being on-air at WEEI during the afternoon drive on baseball’s trade deadline day. That person – not directly associated with the sports department – evidently had a problem with where McAdam’s allegiance rested and subsequently put the kibosh on McAdam’s outside gigs (the very same gigs that provided exposure for the buzzless, sagging Belo Corp. property).
(McAdam’s last ESPN.com column appeared in early August and that coincided with his last WEEI appearance. There has also been a dearth of McAdam at other outside media outlets in the area, although he did remain a guest at Comcast SportsNet.)
In fact, the day after the trade deadline, an ESPN ticker item was giving credit to the ProJo (thanks to McAdam) for information about veteran players meeting with Sox management over the Manny situation. The amount of traffic that kind of mention (and others) can generate for a website is substantial. It’s the ProJo’s fault for not maximizing McAdam – not McAdam’s fault for earning some extra income the same way most of his competitors do.
McAdam, a father of two, who turns 49 in November, has been with the ProJo company since the early 1980s (first, in a radio role) after he graduated from Providence College (Class of 1981). (Scroll down here for a good bio on McAdam from his off-off-Broadway gig of a couple of summers back.) He’s been on the Sox beat since 1989 and is one of the most-respected (and connected) baseball men on the East Coast.
If the reason for his pending departure from the ProJo is because some tyrannical, Stuffed Suit doesn’t understand the inherent benefits of multi-media-platform guys like McAdam, then it’s probably time to start digging the grave for that paper’s sports section – if not the entire operation.
. . . The Herald, Shots has been informed, has no problem with McAdam’s WEEI work or his contributions to ESPN.com. “They’re fine with it as long as he keeps his first allegiance to the Herald,” said one source with direct knowledge, “the way he did all those years for the ProJo.”
. . . The move to the Herald for McAdam makes sports editor Hank Hryniewicz 2-for-2 on his replacements for the Goodbye Four (Mike Felger, Rob Bradford, Tony Massarotti and Jeff Horrigan).
Earlier in the week Hank Herald tapped lightning rod Ron Borges, who was born to write for a tabloid, and now he nabs McAdam, whose breadth and depth on the Sox certainly offsets the Tony Mazz loss (who, by the way, may be most valuable for the Globies on the TV side). McAdam will take over the baseball notes column and also have some type of web presence for the Herald.
Hryniewicz still has one more slot to fill and Shots is told by several informed insiders that a New York tabloid baseball writer is in the lead for that slot. However, there is still a movement afoot on Hank Herald’s desk to go with a football specialist and move John Tomase off the Patriots and back to the Sox. That hire should be made in the coming week.
The key now for Hryniewicz will be maximizing the content delivered by both McAdam and Borges to prop up the sagging Sports section of BostonHerald.com. Neither Borges (at least at his own personal blog) nor McAdam (at the ProJo) have been what you would call “prolific” bloggers. But both are surely capable of breaking stories through the Internet and reacting with voice and authority when stories are broken. Problem is, the Herald’s website has shown little in terms of audio and video content on the Sports side, leading many to surmise they don’t have the manpower to fully implement such rudimentary Web accessories.
But make no mistake, the success of these hires will be determined on the Web page, NOT the printed page.
. . . The “McBrothers”, Joe McDonald of the ProJo and Kevin McNamara will probably be leaned on a bit more to make up for the missing McAdam coverage by ProJo sports editor, Art Martone. Martone has now lost Tom Curran and McAdam – two of his stalwarts – in the course of 24 months. It’s quite possible there won’t be a McAdam replacement made until late Winter, Shots is told.
• Heck of a Thursday night football game for ESPN. Jacked, pumped and totally blindsided. If only college football mattered around here.
• The Herald trumpeted its hiring of Borges as a general sports columnist with an eight paragraph announcement on Page 68 of Wednesday’s paper with quotes welcoming Borges from both Hank Hryniewicz and the paper’s editor, Kevin R. Convey.
Instead, the un-bylined announcement/celebration touted Borges for his “in-your-face coverage” that has both “entertained and aggravated” - they seem to have omitted “ethically violated a peer” - “local fans for almost 25 years. . . ”
An email to Hryniewicz on Wednesday afternoon seeking comment on Borges’ past plagiaristic ways was not returned. The email requested comment from either Hryniewicz or Convey.
Convey, who recently whistled in the wind about a sacred bond between the Herald and its readers in the wake of the embarrassing John Tomase affair, crowed in the Wednesday announcement that, “Borges’ arrival is one more reason why the Herald’s sports coverage is a must-read in this town. I’m looking forward to having him on the staff and watching him shake things up.”
Hryniewicz gushed, “I’m thrilled to have him on our team. . .what intrigues me most about adding him to our staff is the idea of turning Ron loose on this town and giving readers a dose of his unique take on the local sports scene.”
According to the announcement, Borges will start writing for the Wingo Waywards from San Francisco for Pats/Niners next weekend.
. . . The Herald was never overly hard on Borges during his tribulations at the Globe. But it was fairly diligent in following up. And, of course, Borges’s new bully teammate, Howie Carr, took a nice swipe at the time of the suspension. This is from Carr’s March 16, 2007 column, titled “Pols’ St. Pat’s time nothing to laugh at”:
. . . It’s sad, though, that none of these hacks who’ll trek to the Convention Center on Sunday can write their own lame stuff anymore. And by the way, if any of my material sounds familiar, take it up with my joke writer, the Globe’s Ron Borges. He has assured me everything came off a joke Web site that everybody has a right to steal from. . .
. . . We’re still waiting to hear if Herald part-timer and Cold, Hard man Kerry J. Byrne will be at the “Welcome to the Building” party for Borges.
. . . Borges will likely be asked to give the Herald some boxing coverage – and every tabloid worth its weight needs outlandish coverage of the outlandish sport – but it better keep a close eye on who and whom, Borges is still in cahoots with.
EVERYTHING that Borges does needs to pass the smell test in order for Hank Herald’s (and Kevin R. Convey’s) risk to pay off.
• As with all start-ups, we are willing to give the Boston Globe’s new weekly sports offering, OT some time to crawl before it walks.
Still, for the sake of maintaining my cranky ways, there have already been three noticeable missteps:
1. How about NO BUZZ whatsoever? Shouldn’t NESN have been promo-ing the bejeezus out of this launch? I mean, the inventory is there during the games, wouldn’t you think? What’s one more product for Jerry Remy to read? Were there any Globe in-house ads?
That wouldn’t have even taken an investment. [This leads to the bigger question of branding. It would have been a lot more sensible to name the magazine "Globe 10.0" and tie it in directly with the Bob Ryan show and maximize the year-plus already invested into "10.0" - which, by the way has OT's Charlie Pierce as a regular foil for Ryan. Now, OT could be part of a larger plan with expansion in other cities, but still, the "10.0" brand has already developed some cache here and it would have made sense to leverage that.]
2. (Bruce Allen pointed this out already, but it bears repeating:) The line about Sports Illustrated from the Globe’s Jay Fogarty in the Thursday story about the launch. What did he even mean? There shouldn’t be a single new media venture that tries to emulate SI because SI doesn’t even know what it is right now. Fogarty needed to emphasis the additional avenue that OT gives advertisers to get into people’s homes – and stay there for a week. The Globe’s ability to package its print and digital offerings is what will ultimately decide whether “OT” has a sudden death or a long life.
The only thing SI is these days is very thin and very disheveled – with a readership that is dying off or jumping ship to the Internet. Is that what Fogarty wants? Doesn’t sound like the best business model to me.
. . . (I knew the name sounded familiar and there’s good reason. I used to contribute to a magazine named OT. Failed miserably as I recall. But that happens with just about every place I’m at. Trend? I think not.)
3. Competing with thyself. How many different sections of the Boston.com site can Chad Finn appear on? When someone asks me if I read Finn today, I am going to have say “Which one?” There’s a point of diminishing returns with over-content and the Globe is now perilously close to that point.
. . . ON THE OTHER HAND - the early staff roster for editor (and ex-Herald writer
and current Emerson lecturer) (NOTE: Cofman is actually lecturing at Endicott College – although he did graduate from Emerson in 1979) Mark Cofman is very strong. I’ll probably plunk down two quarters just to read Charlie Pierce (he of the 120 somewhat-related comments in his first offering), Tony Mazz and Finn. But the supporting cast includes ever-steady and under-appreciated Maureen Mullen, Celts’ stalwart Scott Souza, Tom Wilcox on the Patriots and a newbie Umie with whole lot of Kevin Cullen’s pluck in him, Danny Picard on the Bruins.
That right there is a solid justification for $26 bucks a year (assuming they go every week through holidays). Everything else is gravy.
So it’s priced right and the bylines are respectable.
Now let’s see what it can deliver as far as content, originality and – this is where it all shakes down – ad revenue.
. . . We were able to catch up with Souza on Thursday and he indicated by email that he will maintain his full-time role at Gatehouse Media’s MetroWest Daily News and the Daily News Tribune of Waltham (the latter of which he has been the sports editor for since 1999) as well as with the rest of those papers.
“One of the editors of (“OT”) was apparently a fan of the way I have covered the team the past three years and emailed me about the chance to write a weekly notebook and occasional feature for (the magazine),” Souza said. “With the volume of sports copy floating around out there these days, it was nice to be noticed. The folks here thankfully understood that it wouldn’t affect the amount of effort I dedicate to both the Celtics and local sports coverage I provide at Gatehouse.
“I was most impressed at the concept of trying a new print publication in this media climate. With all the bad news that comes out of the industry these days, it is intriguing to be a part of something aiming to buck the trend,” he said. “Hopefully, any success it enjoys will be a positive sign for print publications in general, which I have always felt still have a rightful place in the media environment even with all the advances and benefits of Web reporting and blogs. . .The editors seemed very upbeat about the potential to tap into a different demographic and it would be satisfying to play a small part in helping them do that.
“In a way, the idea of it reminded me of the very impressive publication Jerry Spar used to produce at Boston Sports Review, which I know you were involved with . . . Hopefully, with the corporate backing this will have the legs to keep going.”
RIP, BSR. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
• Been following the YouCastr evolution and the Paul Shirley show may be the first development that keeps us coming back for the foreseeable future. Dude’s funny and irreverent and we did enjoy the book version.
• An experiment in sports blogging with the PawSox.
• The movie, “American Pastime” will air on ESPN Classic this Friday night at 9 p.m. ET. Kerry Yo Nakagawa is a big Sox fan and was the associate producer for the film (in addition to having a cameo role). Compelling story indeed.
• Sounds like the return game for this one could be headed to the Boston Garden. That would be very sweet, indeed. And we’re guessing the Tigers will sneak in a meal at Coach Calipari’s new-found North End favorite, Pizzeria Regina.
David Scott writes from a seaside shanty on the shores of Hull, Mass. and can be reached at shotsATbostonsportsmediaDOTcom.
Scott’s first book, with Memphis Coach John Calipari, is scheduled for release in the Fall of 2009.