Top Stories 2008: TomaseGate, Herald Declares War on Patriots

Our top Boston sports media story of 2008 is John Tomase’s accusation that the Patriots taped the Rams walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI. The story was picked up by the national outlets immediately and caused a maelstrom of media coverage around the team that lasted nearly halfway into the year.

The report was ultimately proven to be false, and the Herald issued an apology to the Patriots for the incident.

The damage was done, however. For nearly 5 months the Patriots and their fans had to deal with the nationwide assumption that the tape existed and that the Patriots had cheated to win their first Super Bowl championship. It’s hard to emphasize just how huge this story was nationally. All the major outlets took this report as fact, and ran with it…for months. You couldn’t turn around without hearing a reference somewhere to how the Patriots taped the Rams walkthrough prior to their first Super Bowl title.

The Herald retracted the story and issued the above apology only after former Patriots employee Matt Walsh debunked Tomase’s story. The paper then tried to capitalize on the publicity around the apology, proudly touting their “unprecedented” front page mea culpa.

One would think that the Herald would tread lightly regarding the Patriots for a while after this incident. Instead, after talking about the bond between a newspaper and its readers, and their dedication to maintaining that bond, on May 15th, Tony Massarotti, then still with the Herald, wrote a column belittling and blasting sports fans, and Patriots fans in particular – the very people responsible for the fact that he is gainfully employed.

By the way, did we mention that the Herald later hired notorious Patriots hater Ron Borges? (Though I have to say, he’s been on good behaviour thus far.)

Tomase remains on the Patriots beat to this day.

Shots Wraps up 2008

We’ll let David Scott carry the load this morning, as he takes some time from his book to present to us The 2008 Shotties – NESN and Globe Rift Widening; Ordway Losing Bargaining Power Daily.

Some new stuff in there, the latest on Glenn Ordway’s future at WEEI and Bob Ryan commenting on the cancellation of his Globe 10.0 at NESN, combined with a look back at many of the top stories of 2008 in Boston sports media.

He goes into two of what were my remaining three top stories this year – the launch of WEEI.com, the Herald’s questionable moves and judgement regarding personnel and their handling of Spygate, and has a number of other observations, notes and shots.

Regrettably, I’m going to have to punt this morning and hand the coverage to Bruinslinks.com and CelticsLinks.com for last night’s Bruins win (9 in a row) and Celtics loss (3 out of 4).

Top Stories 2008: Baseball Beat Musical Chairs

As we continue our series on the biggest Boston sports media stories of 2008, we come to a crazy few weeks this summer on the baseball beat in the local papers and websites. In that span, we saw the following movement:

Gordon Edes: Boston Globe to Yahoo! Sports

Rob Bradford: Boston Herald to WEEI.com

Alex Speier: NH Union Leader to WEEI.com

Jeff Horrigan: Boston Herald to Private Sector

Tony Massarotti: Boston Herald to Boston.com

Sean McAdam: Providence Journal to Boston Herald

Adam Kilgore: Washington Post to Boston Globe

Daniel Barbarisi: Providence Journal city hall beat to Red Sox beat.

Looking through that list, it seems easier to point out that the only people who stayed put in their baseball gigs were Amalie Benjamin and Nick Cafardo of the Globe and Michael Silverman of the Herald.

All of that movement certainly gave this site plenty to report on during those few weeks.

Top Stories 2008: Buyouts and Cuts

We’re going to have a mini-series this week looking back at some of the top sports media stories in the Boston area from this past year.

#5 on our list of sports media stories is the buyouts and cutbacks seen in sports departments in 2008.

The Boston Globe went through another round of buyouts this year, and columnist Jackie MacMullan, NBA writer Peter May and assistant sports editor Ken Fratus were among those who took buyouts from the paper.

The Providence Journal offered buyouts to its staff, though it doesn’t appear that the sports department was severely impacted.

The Hartford Courant essentially cut all of their day-to-day Boston sports coverage. Patriots beat writer David Heuschkel and Red Sox beat writer Jeff Goldberg were among the casualties of this decision.

The Gatehouse News – which publishes the MetroWest Daily News, Quincy Patriot-Ledger and Brockton Enterprise among their local holdings also had staff cutbacks this year. Daily News Patriots beat writer Douglas Flynn was probably the most high-profile writer who lost his job from the staff reductions.

On the TV side, longtime sports director Bob Lobel took a buyout from WBZ – a story that is bigger than this entry.

Entercom Boston – the parent company of WEEI and WRKO also had staff reductions this year.