Mainstream Media Review: Boston.com/sports

As Bruce is on vacation this week. BSMW will be featuring reviews of some of the websites and content from several Mainstream Media outlets this week.

Today, we’re taking a look at the sports section of Boston.com and the ties it shares with the Boston Globe sports section.

Boston.com was once the go-to site for pretty much all things Boston sports. For many people, it still is. Several new competitors have muscled into the scene, but Boston.com is still a monster in terms of traffic, and often leads the way in integrating new technologies and methods into its content. It’s constantly changing, being updated and evolving. That’s a good thing. If you’re looking for the very latest breaking news, they generally make it pretty easy to find there.

The sports section is a very busy place, in fact, it can be pretty overwhelming if you land there looking for something specific. (Go ahead, go there right now and find Chad Finn’s Touching All The Bases blog.  Go ahead. I’m timing you.)

The page is broken down into sections by sport, which is nice, but each sub-page is just as busy as the home page. Each team page has their blog in the upper right corner, making those at least easy to find.

Advertising is a necessary evil on websites. I have plenty of it here. We all need to find a way to pay the bills and make some money off the content that is being put out. A problem I have with Boston.com and the Globe site is some of the obnoxious-acting ads that they use. The worst one, to me, is when I’m going through the Boston Globe sports stories in the morning. I like to link to the full-length version, mostly as a convenience to the reader - if I do it, you don’t have to – that sort if thing. Anyway, something is rigged with some of those “Single Page” links so that when you click on them, it doesn’t open the single page version, instead it serves you a pop-up ad. Do it again, and the same thing happens. Finally on the third attempt, your single page article will load. There does seem to be some sort of cap on these, so once you’ve had to do it a few times, it stops and actually loads what you want. Minor thing, but incredibly annoying.

Now, as for the content, I go every day without fail and check out the Globe sports stories. Using that link doesn’t even bring me to the Boston.com/sports side, it’s just the stories from the Globe that morning. For the actual Boston.com/sports site, I can honestly say that the only time I’ve been going there on my own recently – just going to the homepage, not following a link to a specific article/post – is to find Finn’s latest blog entry. (By the way, if you haven’t found it yet, you need to scroll down the right side of the page, find the “Blogs” widget, and scroll down inside that until you come to the link for the blog.)

The Globehas had a lot of staff turnover in the last few years, but columnists Dan Shaughnessy and Bob Ryan are constants. On the baseball beat, Amalie Benjamin and newcomer (via The Journal NewsPeter Abrahamdo a very nice job with the Red Sox, while another holdover, Nick Cafardo takes care of the national beat and Sunday notes. The Patriots are covered by Shalise Manza Young, recently brought over from the Providence Journal, and Monique Walker, with Albert Breer, hired last season, serving as national football writer. The Celtics are covered by beat writer Julian Benbow, with Frank Dell’Apa also a reporter, and Gary Washburn, hired last August as the national guy. The Bruins are covered by Fluto Shinzawa, with Hall of Famer Kevin Paul Dupont taking the NHL beat.

Boston.com has two of it’s own columnists, who generally don’t appear in the print version of the paper. WBZ-FM afternoon co-host and former Boston Herald writer Tony Massarotti is one, and former Globe Patriots writer Chris Gasper is the other. Charles P. Pierce also has been doing quite a bit for them aside from his work for the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, but his contributions on Boston.com are mostly as a blogger. Massarotti’s role has been reduced since he took on the radio gig, but he’s still a regular contributor.

An issue I have with much of the content on the sports pages of Boston.com is tone. I’m making a distinction here between the content published in the Boston Globe and that which appears on Boston.com. The former is generally even-handed and fair. Most of the editorial content on the latter seems to be aimed at “tweaking” the readers. This is especially true for Massarotti, Gasper and the blog entries of Albert Breer. (Is it just me, or is every single blog post that Breer puts up worded in such a way so as to tweak Patriots fans?)  That’s good for stirring up attention and getting lots of comments and page views, but it doesn’t do it for me.

The good part of Boston.com is the sheer amount of content that is put up every day. Beyond the four majors, there are blogs for college sports, high school sports, Eric Wilbur’s Boston Sports blog, a marathon blog, golf blog, and a good soccer blog that not only has Revolution items, but soccer from all over the world.

As previously mentioned, when news is breaking, Boston.com is a great place to head first. The aforementioned Finn, who is an editor for the site, is generally the one posting updates in the various blogs on these breaking news items. For this reason alone, it is a site that is worth checking out regularly. If you can dig and sort through all the noise, there is plenty of other worthwhile content here as well.

Tomorrow: BostonHerald.com/sports.

  • Paul

    The Globe’s comment section is periodically broken and they usually suffer from massive spam attacks.

  • mark

    great content, but site is a mess. way too much going on and blogs are impossible to find. must learn that simpler is better

  • Lance

    Right on regarding the “tweaking.” While I understand and support the need for advertising the Globe’s was so bad I found (and use) Adblock-Plus on my browser for Firefox (it’s disabled here). No problems now with annoying ads there but without it I couldn’t visit that site because the content is overwhelmed by ads.

  • Heavy-Duty

    Your observations are right on with how I feel about Boston.com. It's my go-to site (I can't stand anything WEEI) but the 'tweaking' as you call it is annoying and juvenile, petty journalism at best. It's goal is to get the readers all in a frenzy. Albert Breer is a non-entity on the national football scene and brings nothing to the table as far as I'm concerned. I do like Shalise Manza Young's Patriot columns – I feel like she's got good connections. For sure, Chad Finn is the best and most relevant sports reporter on Boston.com. The pop-ups are driving me nuts though and I find myself clicking onto Boston.com less and less because of them. What's up with that nonsense?

  • Forbin

    Someone needs to tell the newcomer Pete Abraham to chill out on his responses to anyone criticizing his stuff in the comments on the Sox blog. He’s way too defensive. Also seems like he’s trying a bit too hard at times as well. Too much extracurricular stuff showing up in his stuff on the blog. My 2 cents.

  • http://www.sportsjuke.com Sportsjuke

    I think Boston.com is pretty easy to navigate. Sometimes you do need to dig for information, but that is because the site is updated on a very frequent basis throughout the day. It makes for great reading, when you return to the site every couple hours and the content has changed. Big fan of boston.com

  • Classless

    Boston.com sucks now for a few reasons.

    1. Mike Reiss is gone

    2. Chris Gasper replaced Mike Reiss.

    3. The comment sections are broken.

    4. Tony Mazz writes about sports he doesn't know anything about.

    5. There are too many ads.