Globe Shuffles Things Up, Adds Massarotti

The Boston Globe this afternoon announced in a memo a number of changes to the sports department. Adam Reilly has the memo outlining the moves.

The biggest is the addition of Tony Massarotti to the Globe in “a newly created position as he will become the face and voice of boston.com sports.” He will also contribute to the print edition of the paper. Massarotti starts his new job the first week of September.

Amalie Benjamin was officially named the Red Sox beat writer, replacing Gordon Edes, who recently departed for Yahoo! sports.

BSMW favorite Chad Finn also gets a promotion to a newly created position, that of “sports news reporter for boston.com.” Finn will be keeping the page updated throughout the day with “fresh and interesting items.” He will also begin this job in the first week of September.

The paper also announced that Corey Allen will be replacing Finn’s role as part-time copy editor.

Some interesting moves here by sports editor Joe Sullivan. The Globe takes Massarotti away from the Herald, and with Rob Bradford having already left for WEEI.com, this move further weakens the baseball staff at the tabloid. Massarotti loses his WEEI gigs, though he had already scaled them back considerably over the last year. The Globe needed a new columnist/voice under the age of 50, and they get that in Massarotti. I just hope that this sort of stuff doesn’t come over with him. Now that he’s not going to be writing for a tabloid that often uses sensationalism to sell papers, hopefully Massarotti’s style will stick to the analytical, smooth style that comes through in most of his columns. Besides, the Globe already has one Dan Shaughnessy.

Benjamin has her fans on the Red Sox beat, and this move was expected all along. She’s not spectacular, but is competent and enthusiastic for the job. Nick Cafardo likely didn’t want the full-time travel that goes with the job.

It will be most interesting to see what Finn does with Boston.com, and what, if any, design changes are in store for the site. It will be good to have more writing and content from Finn, who has certainly paid his dues, and now is being rewarded with what could be his dream gig. Finn’s obvious love and passion for sports, coupled with his humor make this a very good promotion for the Globe and boston.com.

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In New York sports media news, Neil Best reports that Mike and the Mad Dog is no longer, as Chris Russo has left WFAN.

Approval Ratings – Tony Massarotti

Tony Massarotti, come on down…

Massarotti has been with the Herald since 1989, as he joined the paper fresh from Tufts University. He was the Massachusetts Winner of the 2001 National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Sportswriter of the Year award.

He’s been covering the Red Sox since 1994, but in recent years has moved into more of a general columnist role. With a few exceptions, his columns on sports outside of baseball usually tend to be on the negative side, and his recent column attacking Patriots fans alienated many readers.

He is highly visible on the Boston sports media scene, appearing on WEEI, Comcast SportsNet, NESN and WHDH TV.

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Tony Massarotti Approval Ratings
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Herald, Massarotti Continue Alienation of Readers

There will be no approval ratings today. Instead, we’re going with this analysis of the Boston Herald’s ongoing apology.

Has the Boston Herald been carefully orchestrating this whole walkthrough apology in order to generate the most attention (and revenue)?

It would appear so.

Yes, I certainly wanted more from the paper than simply the statement that was issued retracting the story and apologizing to the Patriots, but in addition to the apology, I would also expect some humility, contriteness, and sincerity to be a part of that package.

Dan Kennedy wonders how anyone could doubt the Herald’s sincerity, but he also admits that he believes Curt Schilling’s shoulder is a bigger story than the Super Bowl…

Herald editor Kevin R. Convey issued the following statement in regards to the episode.

A newspaper’s bond with its readers rests on credibility and accountability. When a mistake is made in reporting a story, that bond can remain intact, but only if the mistake is acknowledged, and acknowledged boldly, clearly and unequivocally.

The Herald did just that yesterday with its unprecedented front-page apology to the New England Patriots. We thought our story was solid. It wasn’t. And we owned up to it.

Nevertheless, I continue to stand behind the work of the Herald sports department and John Tomase, a talented journalist who has dealt with this difficult matter professionally while continuing to do his job under intense pressure.

In the end, as editor in chief of the Herald, I take full responsibility for the publication of this story, and I offer my own apology to our readers and our staff.

In tomorrow’s Herald, you’ll hear from John Tomase directly. And I hope that you’ll see, as our coverage of this story and others goes forward, that our dedication to accuracy remains unchanged, and that our first priority will always be maintaining that bond of trust with our readers.

I might be a bit too sensitive here, but his line about the “unprecedented front-page apology” strikes me as just a tad self-congratulatory. Look at us! We shouted it from the rooftops! Why couldn’t he have called it their “sincere” front page apology? Or just said “our apology?” Now is not the time to bask in your deeds.

He praises John Tomase for dealing with this “difficult matter professionally.” I’m just glad he didn’t laud John for his courage under “intense pressure.” Tomase brought this “difficult matter” and “intense pressure” upon himself by his lack of professionalism. We can’t forget that.

How about that last line: “our first priority will always be maintaining that bond of trust with our readers.” A little late for that, I’m afraid. Rather than maintaining, you’re going to have to build it first.

One sure way not to build a bond and trust with your readers is to publish pure garbage and hate like that spewed by Tony Massarotti this morning.

Not in New England, now the official home of yahoos, hero worshipers and gutless suck-ups. To this entire group, it was all about whether there was a tape; anything else doesn’t matter so much.

I don’t know about you, but reading that in the Herald gives me the warm fuzzies. I’m feeling a warm bond of trust building between the Boston Herald and all Patriots fans. Not that Tony is very specific. He says “this entire group” can’t see that the Patriots broke the rules. That means YOU.

Now let’s get to the stories behind the story, the stuff nobody wants to talk about for fear of being exposed. The media is a sordid business. Professional and personal relationships frequently collide. Patriots coach Bill Belichick gives Christmas gifts and holiday cards to some members of the media, cyanide-tipped glares to others. You’re either a Belichicklet or you are not, and there is no base-level membership.

If you’re going to buy in, you have to sell out.

Thanks but no thanks.

Right. Tony’s not going to sell out. I said Tony’s not going to sell out. Really. He’s above all of that material bullsh*t. He would never allow his personal and professional relationships to collide or get involved with a subject he covers. Never.

Whoops. I guess it really is a material world and Tony is a material girl.

As you are a member of the public, we strongly urge you to review all media stories (particularly this continuously developing one) with a cynical and skeptical eye. Try to discern which members of the media show up to work wearing Patriots Super Bowl jackets, and which of your pathetic, repressed middle-aged neighbors wear their Tedy Bruschi jerseys on Sundays.

I think he’s writing about my friend Matt here, but I can’t be sure. Oh wait, Matt has a Vrabel jersey. Can’t be him. Again though, the Herald is just cuddling me in a warm blanket of trust. A pathetic, repressed blanket of truth.

Oh, I see, he’s talking about Glenn Ordway, Pete Sheppard and Fred Smerlas. Do they also qualify as “pathetic, repressed” and “middle-aged?” Check. (according to Tony.)

Meanwhile, take time to wonder if those same neighbors are blogging and posting on message boards while spending hours on hold so they might hear their voices on the radio.

Listen, mom!

Just like karaoke!

Ah…now we’re into it. It’s the bloggers fault!

By the way, Tony would sell his firstborn child for a permanent co-host position on WEEI. When Eddie Andelman left the station, Tony badly wanted the job which eventually went to Bob Neumeier. He was so disgruntled, that he abandoned WEEI and jumped over to 1510 because they would give him more hours. Eventually when 1510 started to go South, he came back to the WEEI fold. I guess Tony likes to hear his voice on the radio too.

If WEEI calls and wants him on the Big Show this afternoon to capitalize on this story, he’ll gladly take the $75/hour (or whatever they’re paying Big Show co-hosts these days) and sit right next to those media members “wearing Patriots Super Bowl jackets.”

Also, isn’t it just amazing how much these bloggers and message board posters get under skin of these media types?

These are the people who preserve the sports fantasy world that justifies their own sorry existence.

Tony goes to the games, watches the athletes play sports, eats well, gets quotes from the athletes, writes snide columns, and gets paid. Who’s living in the sports fantasy world here? For most people sports is a fun subset of their life. They work in the real world. Sports are an escape. For Tony, it is his life. Does Tony feel he leads a sorry existence? Is that what this is about?

Somewhere along the line during this Golden Era of Boston sports, maybe we all went soft. In the past year or so, the Pats have been fined and stripped of a first-round draft pick, had two players arrested for drug possession and another suspended for the use of human growth hormone. Then the Pats went out and lost one of the biggest games in the history of professional sports against a team they were favored to beat by two touchdowns.

How dare anyone criticize them?

Let’s move the goalposts on what the subject is this week. Who said the Patriots couldn’t be criticized? That’s not remotely what this is all about. This outcry is about the fact that Tony’s paper ran a story that wasn’t true…and one they didn’t check their facts on. This isn’t about criticizing the Patriots, it’s about shoddy journalism.

Speaking of which, Convey emphasized the “dedication to accuracy” at the Herald. So much for that. The Patriots didn’t have two players arrested for drug possession this offseason. Kevin Faulk was not arrested. Small point, yes, as Faulk did get in trouble, but this “dedication to accuracy” should dictate that Massarotti and the Herald get their facts straight.

What was the point of this column?

My instinct tells me it’s the Herald capitalizing on the publicity that this whole incident has generated. Tony writes angry column. Fans can’t help but read it. They respond by commenting and talking about it with others. More papers are purchased. More ads are shown online as more pageviews are generated. The comments fly in on the page. People return again and again to read them, creating even more page views and thus ad views. The column gets analyzed on blogs and on sports radio.

Get ready for groundhog day, as the same thing is going to happen tomorrow. Tomase’s explanation of what happened and where the story went wrong is on tap. The paper is teasing it, getting people talking about it, building anticipation.

I’m looking forward to seeing what he has to say. It should be interesting, seeing as how he’s still been playing the antagonist with his reporting this week, even having a post removed from the Point After blog -(the one with the lede about Walsh admitting to spying on the Rams) either by himself or by the higher-ups at the paper. We’re supposed to believe he’s suddenly contrite and humble about the whole thing? I’d like to see Tomase address the issues laid out by Scott Benson. We also should see the source named. We will be waiting to see what he has to say.

Which is exactly what the Herald wants.

Yes, the Herald is orchestrating this whole event so as to capitalize on the publicity. I guess you can’t blame them. If they’re going to get all this attention they might as well make some money off it, right?