Monday, May 04, 2009

The Boston Globe and BC

For those who have not been following it, the Boston Globe is bleeding money and looking for concessions from its union and workers to stay afloat. Regardless of who gives what, it appears like the paper will face tough choices in its editorial coverage in the coming months. What does that mean for BC? My guess is losing a beat writer and presumably less coverage. As a blogger and frequent Globe critic you would think that I would dance on the paper's grave. Not so. One less writer and paper covering BC means one less piece of content for BC fans.

Fortunately there are numerous bloggers and websites covering BC these days. Even BC has done a good job in producing original interviews and video pieces for Together that will fill any void should the Globe curtail its BC coverage.

I don't think the paper is going under due to the problems in how it approached the BC beat, but I do think you can see signs of why these old institutions fail more often than they adapt. Just take a look at most BC fans big gripes:
1. Originality. It is tough to stay fresh on any beat. Give Mike Vega credit, he wrote about BC for a long time in a professional way. However, too often Vega and his counterpart at the Herald would write features on the same, exact BC players. Both articles were accessible from the web. Did no one question whether the leading paper should make more of an effort to differentiate itself in the players it chose to feature. I often wondered why the writers wouldn't collude a bit and go after different subjects.
2. Lack of breaking news.
As the leading paper with ultimate access, the Globe could have and should have broken more BC news. Too often the beat guys become too friendly or protect their access over breaking news. How Vega let TOB go unquestioned through the 2007 season without confirming or disclosing Matt Ryan's broken foot is mind boggling.
3. Leaving criticism to the hatchet men. Once again it comes down to access. The beat guys cannot upset the school or coaches, so columnists or guys from other beats have to come in and criticize. The problem with that strategy is the bomb throwers were often uniformed or lacked perspective. A great beat writer could have walked that line at BC.
4. Under utilizing, NESN, and other avenues. There is an audience for BC blogs. It may not be huge but it could have been another revenue stream for the Globe. Instead different writers and different times gave the blogs half-hearted support. Usually all that it involved was a posting of a story that would eventually make its way to print.
5. Bringing Blaudschun back. I guess this had more to do with union politics and seniority than anything else, but bringing Mark Blaudschun back to the BC beat hurt coverage. Blaudschun is a decent writer, but I cannot think of one interesting take or innovation he brought to the position since he's been back. The only upside to Blaudschun's return was that it opened a door for Julian Benbow on the basketball front.
6. Sensationalizing the unflattering BC stories. News is news, but too often the Globe would trot out Bob Hohler was a quick hit piece. Rarely did they write about the good things BC jocks and regular students do.

It is easy to play backseat driver on a dying industry. A follower of this blog could easily rattle off a dozen mistakes I've made on this blog. The frustration comes in on what could have been. BC fans will get their fix somewhere. It is just a shame that we never got all that we could have from a once great paper.


Lally said...

Maybe someone with a closer look at the process could confirm this for me, but I always assumed that both papers were writing the same features because that's what the SID was giving them that week.

Since BC isn't a beat that generates alot of eyes in the Boston area, especially when compared to the Red Sox, Pats, C's, Bruins, etc., the SID probably does the legwork for the writers, pitching them the story lines and setting up calls with certain players to "help" along coverage.

The fact that both papers are happy to do the same feature pretty much every week tells us how much they think they need to invest in BC coverage. The Sox, Pats, etc. - you get a guy to work the phones and find the stories. BC doesn't get someone like that.

BCDoubleEagle said...

As a side note, if you're ever wondering how important the Globe considers college sports to be, go to and look at the order in which the various sub-sections are listed down the middle of the page:
-Features, notebooks, and columns
-Globe columnists
-Today's top Globe sports stories
-Red Sox
-High schools

chicagofire1871 said...

Much like BC fans, you've only to ask soccer fans where they go for commentary/information on their team and it is NEVER the established papers. Failure to innovate and evolve is killing them, and it's a shame because pressing reporters and biting pieces keep the establishments both sporting and otherwise honest.

BCMike said...

I echo BCDE's sentiment. Check out any other major city's paper, how they cover collegiate sports.

I guess (and I stress guess here) that the Globe didn't want to alienate the followers of the big time college programs at Harvard, BU, MIT, Emerson, UMass, etc., and therefore lumped BC athletics in with the Harvard track team, but EVERY OTHER MAJOR CITY is proud of it's D1 sports teams. You try to find out what's going on in other places and they have logo's of the team, big portions dedicated.

The Globe did everything they could, aside from Benbow, to crap on BC.

I will dance a jig when that pile of feces goes down. Here's hoping Benbow lands on his feet at a great paper where we can continue to follow his good work.

Erik said...

I agree that Julian Benbow did a fantastic job this year coming up with interesting articles, and solid game reviews. Hopefully we can keep him around.

morrina said...

Good riddance! I canceled my subscription long ago, and found no need to read the old content offered on either.