BSMW Awards Recap – Best/Worst Print Columnist

Starting today, I’m going to be away from the site for pretty much the rest of the month. I leave this morning for California to get ready for my wedding which is this Saturday. Then my wife and I will be headed to Australia for three weeks, and will not back back until the end of the month.

I’ve arranged for something to be posted on the site every weekday that I am gone. Most days will feature a recap from one of the categories in the BSMW poll voting which was conducted in the last two weeks of March. On Tuesdays I’ve prepared a series of columns to run regarding the past, present and future of BSMW.

If big news breaks I’ve given a couple of people access to the front page here so that they can post any relevant links. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve revamped the Red Sox and Patriots Daily Links page so that they include more news sites and blogs so that you’re going to find pretty complete coverage of those teams while I’m away.

Be sure to also check in at the New York Sports News page, especially when the Red Sox and Yankees are going head-to-head as they will several times this month. They were rained out last night, but there should still be article pertaining to the Red Sox in the New York papers.

I don’t anticipate checking my email while I’m gone, so just remember if you send me something, you’re probably not going to hear back from me until next month…

Thanks to everyone for your support, and I look forward to talking to you in the near future…

On most days this month, we’re going to be going over the results of the BSMW media poll, which was conducted during the last two weeks in March.

What’s interesting about this poll is that we had a sample size of over 1500 voters in some categories, and many of those voters were actually media members themselves. In addition, I’ve heard stories of media people I’ve never had contact with lobbying followers to go to the poll and vote for them in a specific category. It’s been an interesting process with equally interesting results.

Today we look at the results for the voting on the best and worst local columnist. First, the best:

2005_best_columnist.png

I’m not surprised that Bob Ryan won this category, though I am a bit surprised at his margin of victory and by how few votes many of the other candidates (especially Gerry Callahan – who I like as a columnist) received. Out of the 1454 votes cast in this category, Ryan came home with over half the total amount with 758.

While Ryan isn’t perfect (as shown in that column published the day of the NCAA Final Four) he consistently puts out columns that are thoughtful, passionate and smooth, regardless of the sport. He covers it all for the Globe, though curiously management at the paper promotes Dan Shaughnessy above him, and gives the latter the prime columns for big events which are put in the front section of the paper. That tells you all you need to know about the state of the Globe these days.

Another of Ryan’s Globe colleagues, Jackie MacMullan came in a distant second, with 191 votes for 13% of the vote. Her work is also almost always solid and readable. Tony Massarotti of the Herald…who just moved to the columnist role recently, came in third with 152 votes for 10% of the total – a solid showing for a guy who will be on the scene for decades to come.

Three people voted for Buddy Thomas as Best Columnist? Those have to be people either clicking in the wrong button, or blood relatives.

Reader Comments: I went with Jackie here; Bryant would have been considered but he’s gone. I'm not a big Bob Ryan fan…...You usually can't go wrong by reading a Bob Ryan column.

Now, onto the worst local columnist. We kept the candidates the same in all “Best” and “Worst” categories, to ensure that there was no appearance of bias in this poll.

Here are the results:

2005_worst_columnist.png

687 out of 1439 people surveyed voted Dan Shaughnessy of the Globe as the worst local columnist. As noted above however, the Globe still considers Shaughnessy to be their “star” and the voice of the sports department. Shaughnessy’s columns have become so repetitive, agenda filled and factually inaccurate that there is a blog devoted to critiquing each of his columns, and as their tagline says “we read him so you don’t have to”. It’s to the point that Shaughnessy rarely surprises you any more. You know exactly what he’s going to say before you read the column. If it is a column to start a Red Sox/Yankees series, you know what he’s going to write, if it’s opening day, If the Patriots are about to open the playoffs, if it is Labor Day weekend, you know what he’s going to write about each and every time.

Yet they love him at the Globe, as quoted earlier this year in Boston Sports Review, Sports editor Joe Sullivan praised Shaughnessy by saying that “He is the bravest columnist I’ve ever seen and is not afraid to take a stand.”

Gerry Callahan finished second in this category, and I believe that is clearly the case because of his radio show and his politics instead of his writing. His columns are usually very good, and usually not at all like his radio personna.

Reader Comments: Shank runs away with it. Whatever you think of Callahan's politics and on-air persona, he's a good columnist…Whatever you think of the Shankmeister you have to admit he can turn a phrase every once in a while. If by "worst" you mean worst writing, may I direct your attention to one Steven Buckley….Shank has hackneyed phrases, a columnist has original thoughts; Shank has seasonal 'mail it in' columns, a columnist doesn't rehash the same topics; Shank is beholden to the Red Sox ownership, a columnist is independent; Shank has the curse, a columnist curses tools like Shank…. The USPS only makes money off Shank's mail-ins; in fact the most recent postage increase was due to the loss of the almost daily mail-in column of “The Curse”—hence, they needed to make more money off the rest of his mail-in columns….Has Buckley ever written anything memorable, besides shivving Nomar a few years back? Reading Buck's column is more of a time waster than playing Minesweeper….My 10-year-old still laughs when she recalls the deathless "If Tom Brady was a tree..." column, where Shank channeled his inner Barbara Walters. The sad part is that Shank would probably think that's a compliment ("She's famous... has a lot of money...")

Tomorrow: Best/Worst local baseball beat writer.

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