“The Fellowship of the Miserable” – A Boston Magazine Feature on Sports Media

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You’ll recall that last year, Alan Siegal wrote a feature for Boston Magazine on 98.5 The SportsHub morning team Toucher and Rich.

Siegal, who has also written for Deadspin among other publications, is back in the pages of Boston Magazine this month with a feature entitled The Fellowship of the Miserable.  The introduction for it goes like this:

Whiny, petulant, entitled, self-important—no, it’s not Boston fans we’re talking about, it’s Boston sportswriters. How did the sports media in this town, once the envy of the nation, become so awful?

The piece focuses on how far the local media has fallen in terms of being beaten regularly by the national media on local stories, (The Jeff Passan piece on the Red Sox last summer, and Adrian Wojnarowski on the much of the Ray Allen stuff with the Celtics) and by non-beat reporters on other pieces (he reports that then-Globe publisher Marty Baron was the one who initiated what became the Bob Hohler “beer and fried chicken” column following the 2011 season, not sports editor Joe Sullivan) and why they seem to be getting worse and worse on the rest of the stuff. Dan Shaughnessy is among those dinosaurs who are targeted in the feature.

 To put it bluntly, “The Lodge”—as Fred Toucher, cohost of the 98.5 The Sports Hub morning radio show, mockingly refers to the city’s clubby, self-important media establishment—is clogged with stale reporters, crotchety columnists, and shameless blowhards. Their canned “hot sports takes” have found a home on local television and talk radio, but do little but suck the fun out of a topic that’s supposed to be just that. And we haven’t even gotten to Dan Shaughnessy yet.

If you’re a sports media junkie, it’s a must-read. And yes, I am quoted in it.

  • 02062

    “The Lodge” comment from the bearded zookeeper is funny. His show is basically the Junior Achievement equivalent. Shalise, Breer, Pete Abe. They all turn into what they claim to loathe eventually.

  • Chris Warner

    Man, I miss the Globe sports page. Or, rather, I miss missing it. Great piece, Bruce. Thanks for posting.

  • Kamandi

    The only problem with the piece is it doesn’t dig deep enough. From Hector to Tangy, there’s also a lot of bench-strength self-important terribleness. I do get a kick out of the fact that of the illustration’s four pieces of pestilence, three are employed by and promoted to the public by the Boston Globe. How the mighty has fallen! Nice job, Joe Sullivan.

    • http://www.bostonsportsmediawatch.com/ bsmfan

      Similar thoughts here. He could have gone into an 8-page expose on this one here.

      I thought the piece might focus on Boston but couldn’t we apply the same to other major markets?

      On that note, doesn’t it reflect a broader “cultural” shift where innovators in any “market” get plucked for national jobs, like what happens with regular news?

      Also, I wondered how the piece reflected how/what ESPN does things. Many sports fans would love for ESPN to have some legit competition, which it seems like FOX is positioned to do, this summer.

  • bosox3054

    I don’t know, its easy to loathe and complain. Everybody loathed EEI and celebrated 98.5 when it came on, now 98.5 is negative and loathesome too according to most of the anti-Felger&Mazz posts/comments here. Especially when it comes to TV, its a numbers business. Comcast wouldn’t put these guys on if their shows weren’t making money and if sponsors didn’t line-up to pay, and if they didn’t generate ratings. Seems like Minihane is the new darling…and he’s OK I don’t mean this to be anti-Minihane its just an example….but how long before people are “sick of his negativity and misery” if he gets a regular gig? I think on some level we as media consumers just like to complain. The hosts are a reflection of their audience.

    • http://bostonsportsmedia.com/ Bruce Allen

      So what you’re saying is that the fans are to blame.

      • bosox3054

        Not blame per se just they’re still tuning in so the quality can’t be as bad as espoused in pieces like this.

        • http://www.bostonsportsmediawatch.com/ bsmfan

          The authors point was that Boston used to be a bastion of innovation/state-of-the-art (in so many terms) when it came to sports media. If anything, it was like Detroit in the 20s-60s when it came to autos. Now? It’s like a wasteland. What was once a “Silicon Valley” is now a country club.

          The “good” or “smart” leave, instead of building a career here like they once did.

          I get what you’re saying but, beyond “Twitter hate”, where else are people supposed to discuss the media in–hopefully–a more intelligent manner than “X show blows/Y media member SUCKS”.

        • bosox3054

          I think the way we remember the halcyon days of the mighty Globe is skewed. The Globe had competitors back then….that folded. The Record American which became the Herald, and whatever other yellow journalism sheets were around in those days.

          Maybe those outlets had “the miserable” the author describes, and maybe the “miserable” reside at the Globe now. They’re not remembered as those miserables won’t be remembered in 20 years.

          But that doesn’t mean there are no innovators at other outlets today….Mike Reiss for example, who is not mentioned in the story and was one of the first must-read sports blogs certainly in New England if not nationally. If we look at Reiss in 25 years they way people look back at McDonough now, that’s OK with me. The rest are noise, and there were certainly others that blended in as noise in that “golden” era.

          I think this is a case of selective memory and selective reporting by the mag writer.

        • http://twitter.com/NWEmbed NS Webster

          No – in the 1980s, the Globe sports section was every bit as good as the article poses. I read every word, and those writers were legit WRITERS.
          I agree that there were probably ‘miserables’ who’ve been forgotten (or were ignored in the pre-internet days), but the best really were the best.

        • http://www.bostonsportsmediawatch.com/ bsmfan

          Agree on Reiss.

          However, he wasn’t the first doing snap-counts. I had seen an ESPNBoston.com chat with him once where he gave credit to (I really don’t remember who) the person.

          Still, it’s used by every media member here and it seems like many of them depend on it.

          On the “selective memory” — hold up on that. We don’t know how edited the piece was, if there was a word/space limit, etc.

  • patrick

    If you’re a fan who listens to 10+ hours of sports radio every day just to complain about how awful sports radio is, then yes i would say you share some blame. I reached a point where I could no longer listen to D&C, so you know what I do now? I don’t listen! And I’m much better off. Obviously most of the media sucks…pick and choose what you personally like and ignore the garbage.

  • whitey b

    Shaughnessy sure blows, but my guess is he doesn’t do it hard.

    That wus doesn’t doing anything hard. It’s a wonder he has kids. His wife probably screwed around.

  • Vinnie

    Kirk Minihane poked so many holes in Alan’s article that it’s pretty much irrelevant. Alan had absolutely no defense for his article on the podcast.

  • mike

    bruce,

    how’s pete abe holding up? alan siegal totally ripped him … ouch

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