Guest Column – Henry-Owned Globe Taints Sox Beat

This story first appeared on BostonSportsToday.net

By Gethin Coolbaugh

John W. Henry is a pretty smart businessman — and if you don’t believe me, go check his bank account — but his latest acquisition is a head scratching one on some levels, to say the least.

Henry, the head of Fenway Sports Group which owns the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C., has plucked The Boston Globe, the largest newspaper in the region, from The New York Times Co., according to multiple reports.

When considering the impact of the sale, two questions come to mind. For one, what is a successful businessman like Henry doing buying a newspaper (you know, those things with the ink and the paper you see on the subways)? As sad as it is, and this is coming from someone who loves newspapers, the print business is dying, and I’m pretty sure Henry alone isn’t enough to save it.

But hey, I’m not as smart as Henry is, nor do I have as much money as he does, so what do I know?

More importantly, though, Henry’s acquisition of The Boston Globe would immediately taint the newspaper’s coverage of the Boston Red Sox, one of the teams that Henry happens to own.

You know what’s really sad? The Globe’s baseball writers have nothing to do with it, either.

Regardless of your personal feelings about them, The Globe offers some of the greatest baseball minds in the news business today. Should they be blamed for anything in this changeover? Absolutely not. I bet if you asked them, some would say they would have preferred if Henry did not buy their newspaper, because the second he did, it instantly put a cloud over the Sox beat.

It may not be right, but when Henry steps into the picture, it creates a major conflict of interest.

What is the role of a newspaper? Or, here’s a better question, what is the proper role of a newspaper? It should strive to bring the most important news to its readers, brushing agendas and biases aside. Hopefully, that’s what Henry intends to do as assumes control of the company.

At the same time, Henry is a businessman, and a good businessman has no interest in muddying up any of his prized assets, and the Red Sox certainly qualify as one of Henry’s biggest assets.

What happens when the Red Sox need to be criticized, whether’s it’s on the field or in the front office? Will the writers be allowed to dig deep, uncover the story and say what needs to be said?

It’s a conflict of interest, and there’s no way around it. Does that mean Henry shouldn’t be allowed to buy and run The Boston Globe? Of course not. He had the money, and The New York Times Company had every right to sell the paper to him. There’s nothing wrong with that at all.

Henry is smart, and hopefully he’s smart enough to tackle this issue right off the bat with a clear explanation of the way his newspaper will cover his baseball team in a fair and ethical manner.

Still, there may always be a level of mistrust when anyone reads a Red Sox story in Henry’s paper.

Not even someone as savvy as Henry will be able to fix that.

Gethin Coolbaugh is the Editor-In-Chief of Boston Sports Today. Twitter: @GethinCoolbaugh.

Report: John Henry Selected As New Owner of Globe

Peter Gammons on his new site Gammons Daily has the following report:

Sources say the New York Times Corporation has chosen John Henry as the new owner of the Boston Globe.

–Peter Gammons

If the source is correct, it makes sports coverage in this town a whole lot more complicated, and pretty much all coverage of the Red Sox will be viewed as coming from a certain vantage point. Also, coverage of the other local teams will also be in question as to whether it is hurting or helping the aims of the owner and his other investment.

Will we also see coverage of Liverpool FC and Roush Fenway Racing? Will LeBron James suddenly get more positive coverage?

This whole situation should be interesting to watch going forward.

Another Patriots Problem, Sox Win Again

Alfonzo Dennard doesn’t seem to have gotten the message. It may just cost him his job.

The Patriots cornerback was arrested last night around 2:00am in Lincoln NE, on suspicion of DUI. Even if he was not drunk, he showed incredible lack of judgement just by being out on the town at 2:00am in a city in which he was already convicted of assaulting a police officer.

Because Bob Kraft spoke the other day, and because of what he said, the team is almost obligated to cut Dennard right away, if not for DUI, then for being stupid.

The media is salivating over another Patriots incident, all enjoying the opportunity to get their licks in.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox keep at it, winning again in Seattle last night, this time sailing to an 11-4 win over the Mariners.

Red Sox have new fearsome twosome in middle of order – Rob Bradford notes that that Pedroia/Ortiz isn’t quite Ramirez/Ortiz, but it’s really good.

David Ortiz firmly
 in Sox’ high five – John Tomase says Big Papi belongs with Clemens, Pedro, Williams and Yaz as franchise icons.

Jacoby Ellsbury seems in no hurry to leave – Nick Cafardo has the Red Sox centerfielder saying he enjoys and appreciates playing in Boston.

Bruins sign Rask to eight-year contract – The Bruins officially signed goaltender Tuukka Rask to a huge contract yesterday, ensuring that Tuukka time will continue in Boston.

Danny Ainge happy, but salary cap a concern – Gary Washburn has the Celtics exec satisfied with his work thus far in the offseason, but still looking to get the cap situation under control.

Pressey already locked up spot in Celtics camp – A. Sherrod Blakely looks at the undrafted rookie, who has his camp invitation lined up with a strong showing in the summer league.

Meanwhile, Dan Shaughnessy outdid himself this morning with a snarky, bitter, sarcastic take on all four sports teams which likely took him less than 15 minutes altogether to write. KG a mercenary? Check. Lamenting the lack of disgrace being heaped on the Bruins for their “epic collapse” in game six? Check. Sucking up to potential future boss John Henry? Check. Shots at Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, the “holier than others” Patriots and their “legions of sycophants?” Check, check, check and check.

I’ve said it before, and will say it again. The best thing the Globe ever did was put Shaughnessy behind the paywall.