Q&A with Jeff Howe, Boston Herald Patriots beat reporter

Former NESN.com Patriots beat reporter Jeff Howe will begin his new job today as Patriots beat reporter for the Boston Herald. Howe replaces Ian Rapoport who took a position with NFL.com a few months ago. The famous “Rap Sheet” blog that Rapoport was most known for has now been named “The Blitz” where Howe and Herald Patriots reporter Karen Guregian will be posting on multiple times each day.

What has your professional career been like since graduating from UMass in 2006?

My career has been a constant learning experience. I worked at the Boston Metro from 2006-09, and I was also a stringer for the MetroWest Daily News for about six months from 2006-07. One of my favorite jobs ever was covering Hockey East for Inside College Hockey from 2005-10.

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald

I did a little of everything at the Metro, as former sports editor Chris Price rounded me out with reporting, editing and design work. We launched Metro GameDay in 2007, which was a free publication that was distributed at every Red Sox home game, and I was the editor in charge. GameDay was successful, but Metro stopped publishing it after the World Series parade, so I was assigned to the Celtics beat. I can’t even begin to list all of the things I learned while covering the Celtics from 2007-09, and it was an experience that helped me grow a ton as a writer and reporter.

But I was looking for a fresh start in 2009, and I hooked on with NESN.com as the Patriots beat reporter. I had some limited experience covering the team for the Metro from 2006-08, but the workload really increased in 2009 and every year after that.

What has it been like being on the Patriots beat since 2006?

I’ve only been on the beat since 2009, but I covered about one practice per week from 2006-08. Chris Price showed me the ropes on how to handle myself in a professional environment, and he brought me along at a very appropriate pace, which is important for young reporters. There were also plenty of days when I’d cover practice in the morning and then work the MetroWest desk at night, and I saw Bert Breer routinely working 16-hour days. That work ethic rubbed off on me, and I got a great look at how to conduct business.I could turn this into a yearbook session and thank dozens of people for the ways they’ve helped me develop, but I’ll just say that everyone I’ve worked with — either alongside or in competition — has made me a better person and reporter. I’m always studying the different ways reporters do things, and I try to learn from it all. I officially joined the beat in 2009 with NESN.com. With limited experience at Gillette Stadium, I spent that first season trying to carve my own niche. I’ve always felt it was important to cover the team and the game the way it needs to be covered, and in addition to that, I’ve looked for ways to do it differently. That’s typically been my goal each day of each season.

Looking back, what was your time at NESN.com like?

I’m truly grateful for my time at NESN.com, and I thought we were a perfect match. I joined NESN.com as the site was in a redevelopment stage, so we had time to learn together. Like I said, I was looking for a fresh start, and NESN.com was looking for young writers. They had patience with me as I grew on the beat, but the expectations increased each year, as I was able to do more and NESN.com continued to expand. Really, it was the perfect opportunity for me because we were able to grow together, and that was important.I can’t thank them enough for taking a chance on me, both on NESN.com and NESN Daily. The Daily producers, photographers, production crew and on-air talent invested a lot of time to help me get comfortable on television, and I’ll be forever indebted to them. There’s so much talent with the Daily staff, and they’re great people, too.

What can people expect from your coverage with the Herald?

Expect that I’ll work hard every day to cover the team the way the readers want it to be covered. I put a lot of emphasis on strategy and X’s and O’s, and I also love to tell the players’ personal stories. In addition to that, I’ll always be looking to find new ways to cover the team because it’s important for us to differentiate our coverage. I also have a ton of fun with my job, and I hope that shows in my writing (I’m sure it does on Twitter). I’m really looking forward to starting a new blog with Karen Guregian and the rest of the staff, and you can expect a steady stream of information on a daily basis.

What is the one thing that people who don’t know you already should know?

It’s tough to pick one, so I’ll share a little more of my personal background. I was born and raised in Lowell, Mass., and I graduated from Lowell High, Middlesex Community College and UMass. I originally went to UNH as a business major, but I realized that wasn’t for me, which led to a new start at MCC. You know what’s a great source of motivation? Moving home and attending the community college that you’ve been able to see out of your bedroom window for 18 years. And I wouldn’t trade a single one of those experiences, because that’s how I developed my work ethic, which is important in every walk of life. I’ve also got a great family, and I married my wife in June 2011, so it’s been an awesome year.

The Herald’s @Rapsheet Is Heading To The NFL Network (Confirmed)

First posted from TheBigLead:

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I got a quick confirmation from Rapoport on this one, who said that while he “hates leaving the Herald,” he “couldn’t pass this opportunity up, and moving to Dallas will be awesome.”

Rapoport has made many appearances on the NFL Network, so they’ve had their eye on him for a while now.

This is the second Boston newspapers writer snatched up by the network. (Albert Breer being the other.) In the somewhat-interesting coincidence department, Rapoport will be based in Dallas, where Breer had worked after leaving the MetroWest Daily News and is a place that Breer often speaks of wistfully. I’m sure Breer will have plenty of Dallas advice to pass along.

It stinks for the Herald though.  Rapoport their best hire in a long time, and it will be tough for them to fill his shoes.

For Rapoport though, this is indeed an incredible opportunity, and one well-deserved.

Rapoport joined the Herald in July of 2009, and had covered the Alabama Crimson football team for three years for The Birmingham News before that. He is a 32-year-old graduate of Columbia University.

2011 Approval Ratings – Ian Rapoport

Ian Rapoport covers the New England Patriots for the Boston Herald.

The Boston-born but New York raised Rapoport joined the Herald in July of 2009. He had previously worked for The Birmingham News, where he covered the Alabama football program led by Nick Saban.

The Columbia University graduate employs an energetic style to his coverage of the Patriots, having fun, yet still breaking his share of scoops along the way. He is prolific on Twitter and is very engaged with his audience. He’s been a regular guest on sports radio, and on TV with Comcast SportsNet.

Ian Rapoport 2011 Approval Ratings
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2011 Approval Ratings – Karen Guregian

Karen Guregian covers the New England Patriots for the Boston Herald.

A Chelmsford native and graduate of Northeastern University’s journalism school, Guregian began her career with the Lowell Sun. She joined the Boston Herald in 1984, and has remained there since, despite some rumored inquiries from the Boston Globe in recent years.

My first memories of Guregian are during her days covering the Bruins. She spent eight years on that beat, and has also covered the Red Sox before coming over to the Patriots beat a few years back.

She doesn’t do a ton of on-air appearances in this market these days, but I remember her doing sports talk radio before WEEI even existed, so she’s got plenty of experience.

Karen Guregian 2011 Approval Ratings
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2011 Approval Ratings – Ron Borges

Ron Borges is a columnist for the Boston Herald.

This is actually Borges’ first time in the approval ratings, the last time we did these, in 2008, Borges was unemployed, having left the Globe after the football notes plagiarism case. Borges had been at The Boston Globe for 24 years covering the NFL and boxing beats. Before then he had worked out in the SF Bay area, covering the Raiders from 1976 to 1982, first for the Sacramento Union, and then for the Oakland Tribune, which spawned his unending admiration for all things Black and Silver.

Borges is a renowned boxing writer, having covered the sport for HBO in addition to the Globe. After leaving the Globe, he briefly wrote for his own site, RonBorges.com, while freelancing for various boxing and football publications. He was hired by WEEI.com in the summer of 2008, where he lasted for a month before bolting to the Herald.

His appearances on local sports radio and television are always contentious, and his recent foray into the world of Twitter is the perfect place for him to spout his opinion on all topics. He was featured in a 2006 edition of Boston Magazine.

Ron Borges 2011 Approval Ratings
Total Votes: 1242 Started: July 20, 2011 Back to Vote Screen

 

 

2011 Approval Ratings – Michael Silverman

Yes, that was the best picture I could find of Silverman. The guy is a ghost. Even the photo on his Twitter page isn’t of him.

Michael Silverman covers the Red Sox for the Boston Herald. He’s a lifer there, having come in with the illustrious 1989 class that included Michael Felger, Tony Massarotti, Bill Simmons and Paul Perillo.

He’s been covering the Red Sox since 1995. He’s not a guy you hear a whole lot from on the radio and television airwaves, though he does make some appearances. He doesn’t generally inject a lot of opinion into his pieces, but his tagline this season of the 2011 Red Sox being the Best Team Ever has gotten some play.

He was friendly with former Sox ace Pedro Martinez, which often made him a go-to guy on Pedro stories, even after the pitcher had left town.

Michael Silverman 2011 Approval Ratings
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Former Boston Herald Columnst George Kimball Has Died

Note – please read George Kimball: An appreciation by Michael Gee, now posted on the Boston Herald’s website.

George Kimball, who served as a sports columnist at the Boston Herald from 1980 to 2005, has died.

Kimball was 67, and had been diagnosed with inoperable esophegeal cancer in 2005.

Known most for his boxing writing, Kimball was especially prolific in the final years of his life, as he wrote the books Four Kings and Manly Art. At the Herald, he had been the main NFL columnist for the paper.

On the website TheSweetScience.com, Thomas Hauser remembers Kimball, and posts a profile he wrote of Kimball back in 2004.

The man led a fascinating life.

Other references:

Interview with Gelf Magazine.

Rebel returns to town (KUSports.com)

GeorgeKimball.com

George Edward Kimball (Wikipedia)

2011 Approval Ratings – Steve Bulpett

Boston Herald Celtics/NBA writer Steve Bulpett is our entry for today.

Bulpett has been on the Celtics beat since the mid-1980’s, and the Herald proclaims him “the dean of NBA beat writers in continuous service with a team,” and also that he has “followed the Celtics as a home and away beat longer than anyone in franchise history.” (Others, such as Mike Fine have covered the team longer, but for some of that time only when the team was at home.)

A Lynn and Swampscott native, Bulpett went to the University of Dayton to study law, and ended up with a journalism degree. He also was an intramural basketball teammate of Dan Patrick. Yet to be lured to the Twitter world (though I think he’d be terrific on there) , another Boston sports media member who despises socks…

You can spot a very young Bulpett sitting on press row at the Garden in this terrific SI shot featuring Doc Rivers and Larry Bird. Bulpett is in the white shirt, a few feet away from an attentive Bob Ryan.

Steve Bulpett 2011 Approval Ratings
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2011 Approval Ratings – Stephen Harris

Continuing our Bruins theme, today we bring you Boston Herald Bruins writer Stephen Harris.

Harris is a Herald lifer, first covering the Bruins beat back in 1979. During a period in the 1980’s he was the Red Sox beat writer for the paper, but for the most part, he’s been covering the Bruins. Harris is the lead writer on the beat, doing the analysis and overview pieces for the paper.

He is also the closest that the Herald might have to an Olympic writer, having covered seven Olympic games during his career with the paper

You don’t see him on television, you don’t hear him on the radio (all that often anyway,)  so he might not be well known to you, but if you’re a longtime Bruins follower, you’ve surely read his work in the Herald.

He lives west of Boston with his wife and two sons.

Stephen Harris 2011 Approval Ratings
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Mainstream Media Review: BostonHerald.com

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.

The Boston Herald is firmly entrenched as the second newspaper in Boston, and despite the financial setbacks common in the newspaper industry these days, has remained a solid spot for Boston sports fans to receive the latest news on their favorite teams.

The Herald’s website has been pretty consistent in its look and feel over the last several years. There is a lot of information, but it is fairly easy to sort through. The BostonHerald.com sports homepage gives you the top stories of the day in the top section, with individual sections for ten other sports below that. A widget in the top right allows you to choose from the most recent sports headlines, or the most popular articles from that day. Below that is a window showing a few of their recently updated blogs.

Navigation is fairly straightforward, each team/sport has a link at the top, and when you go to each sub-page, the recent articles are lined up in the middle column top to bottom, with various widgets (team standings, blog links, top articles, etc) scattered in the sidebars.

In terms of the content, the Herald has shown a willingness to experiment. This season for instance, they have pretty much abandoned the typical “game story” in favor of the “Red Sox Recap” which highlights a number of the top storylines from the game, noteworthy stats, quotes, and a peek at the next game. (Not all that unlike what Jon Couture has been doing the last two seasons over at the Standard Times.)  The Red Sox beat is manned by stalwart Michael Silverman, newcomer Scott Lauber, and the controversial John Tomase. Tomase of course is best-known for the “tape-gate” scandal, details of which don’t need to be rehashed here. To his credit, Tomase has attempted to keep his head down and just do his job since coming on the Red Sox beat, but the fallout from the incident continues to taint his converage in the eyes of many readers, some of whom swore off the Herald forever in the wake of the incident.

Football coverage is handled by veteran Karen Guregian and Ian Rapoport, who joined the paper prior to last season, and immediately proceeded to start filling up his blog The Rap Sheet with everything Patriots related (and sometimes not). He’s been a great hire for them – a top-notch reporter who can also have some fun with his job. He’s been refreshing, as unlike many of his colleagues, he doesn’t take shots, and even when people disagree with him, I’ve never seen him get nasty when interacting with readers on Twitter on in comment sections.

The Celtics and Bruins beats are truly the old guard. That’s not meant as an insult. Between Stephen Harris and Steve Conroy on the Bruins and Steve Bulpett and Mark Murphy on the Celtics, there is about 100 years of Boston Herald experience between the four of them. All of these guys are old-school, solid reporters, who do their jobs under the radar, putting the attention on the teams they cover, rather than themselves. Of the four, Bulpett might make the occasional multi-media appearance, but most of the time, these four are just reporting and commenting on the teams they are assigned to.

Columnists include Steve Buckley and Ron Borges, who are both well known to Boston fans, probably for much different reasons.

The Herald attempts to promote breaking news with a yellow banner at the top of the page. Sometimes the news isn’t always “breaking,” but rather the most recent story. The screenshot above is an example of this. The struggles of Victor Martinez for the first month of the season wasn’t exactly breaking news, but instead, they decided to put the banner up to promote a rather nondescript Scott Lauber article on Martinez’s struggles.

The Herald website hasn’t quite embraced technology the way Boston.com has, videos are less common, chats less frequent, and they don’t really have an internet-only side other than the blogs. The content is generally pretty solid, and if you’re a diehard Boston sports fan, the Herald might not be your first stop in the morning, but it definitely should be on your list to visit sometime during the course of the day.