A lapse in news judgment

Last Friday, the Boston Globe posted a stop-you-in-your-tracks story online about Comcast Sportsnet reporter Jessica Moran resigning amid questions about her relationship with Red Sox manager John Farrell. It was fascinating in many respects, not the least of which is both the Globe and the Red Sox are owned by John Henry, adding a level of intrigue about what and when Henry knew about the story.

But unless you’re an avid sports talk radio listener or consumer of news from outside the region, there was little in local media to follow-up on the piece. The Globe ran the Friday story, reported by Names and Faces columnist Mark Shanahan, buried deep inside the Sunday print edition as the lead item on the gossip column. The Boston Herald, for whom this would normally be manna from heaven, had two short pieces in their little-read Saturday and Sunday papers that basically had Sox officials saying it would not be a distraction. And then, radio silence, so to speak, except for the radio.

It’s a salacious story, to be sure. The embattled manager of the city’s most high-profile sports team becoming involved with a woman more than 20 years his junior who also has the task of reporting on the day-to-day travails of the team. What was he telling her about his players that would not normally be fodder for the media? What did she know that gave her a leg up on competition? What did she know and not report?

Then there’s the Henry ownership factor. Everyone knows Farrell is on the hot seat and a slow start will jeopardize his job. Some of the talk radio discussion was over whether Henry told someone at the paper about the relationship in order for it to find its way in print. Others asked, if he wasn’t the source could he have stopped it if he wanted to, and would the paper’s editors have gone along with the decision?

While it’s likely Henry was informed of the story when it was either being reported or ready to run, it’s doubtful he was put in a position to kill it. The Globe is, after all, one of the leading newspapers in the country and its integrity and credibility would have been shaken if word ever got out – and it would absolutely have gotten out – that he stepped in and directed news coverage one way or the other. On this, the Globe’s editors get the benefit of the doubt.

But it’s more than a little curious that there has been such a lack of coverage between last week’s revelation and a story this morning in the paper by Chad Finn about why the issue matters. That Comcast Sportsnet has refused comment is understandable, if not a little hypocritical given they are a journalistic outlet. But why so little in the Herald, especially a story that has Inside Track written all over it, with a bonus of tweaking the Boring Broadsheet?

While it took a week to arrive, Finn’s piece is a compelling take, with interviews with a variety of female sports reporters who say this incident has the potential to set back many of the gains women have made in covering the male-dominated world of sports. The chuckles, snark, and questions about how a woman got information that a male colleague couldn’t will once again rise, forgetting the fact that many of the women are good at the job for just that reason, that they’re not part of the boys’ network.

Earlier this week ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, a pioneer in sports reporting and an icon whose integrity has never been questioned, bristled on WEEI about the incident. She said both Moran and Farrell bear responsibility for the lapse in professional judgment. But she admitted it also makes her job harder.

“I was doing this job because ever since I was 12 years old, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could take two things I love, which are sports and writing, and turn it into a profession?’” she said. “And every time this happens – every time this happens – it casts yet a new light on every female journalist that’s trying to do their job the right way. And this is not the right way.”

Relationships between reporters and subjects are not supposed to happen but they do, especially in sports. Former NESN reporter Jenny Dell, now an NFL sideline reporter with CBS, was taken off the Red Sox beat when her relationship with former third baseman Will Middlebrooks became public. There have been rumors – and they are nothing more – of other Sox players and coaches being romantically involved with women who cover the team.

There’s some speculation that new Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski will use this as an arrow in his quiver should he want to dump Farrell, but that would be hard to explain: Dombrowski is married to a former ESPN reporter he met while she was a television reporter in Miami covering the Florida Marlins when he was general manager. And in just a little more irony, Henry owned the Marlins at the time.

On Greater Boston, Jim Braude asked longtime Globe sports reporter Shira Springer if there is a policy at the paper against reporters dating subjects of their stories.

“Yes,” she said, “it’s called common sense.”

–JACK SULLIVAN

 

BEACON HILL

Opioid bill goes to Gov. Charlie Baker for his signature. (Eagle-Tribune)

Globe columnist Adrian Walker says a bill regulating ride-hailing services that a House chairman says strikes a balance between competing interests is instead protecting “the established old order” — the taxi industry. [This item has been revised to more accurately summarize Walker’s column.]

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Mayor Marty Walsh backs off plans for cuts to Boston public high schools following a massive student walkout earlier this week — and he praises the students days after questioning their action and raising questions about who was behind their protest. (Boston Globe)

Hanscom Air Force Base lands a new nuclear communications command and as many as 80 jobs. (The Sun)

A drug scandal has rocked the Department of Public Works in North Reading. (Boston Globe)

The Freetown Board of Selectmen was hit with a $1,000 fine for deliberately violating the Open Meeting Law last year when it was preparing to fire the town treasurer. (Herald News)

Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia plans to abolish the city’s underperforming sanitation enterprise fund even as the City Council mulls a proposal to eliminate the despised $120 trash fee for the controversial pay-as-you-throw program. (Herald News)

A group pushing to change Framingham from a town to a city form of government has begun holding a series of meetings urging residents to vote for the charter commission in advance of the election at the end of the month. (MetroWest Daily News)

An off-duty Boston police officer was behind the wheel of a Jeep that struck and killed an 18-year-old Milton high school student. (Boston Herald)

CASINOS

Lawyers for Somerville accuse Wynn Resorts of failing to conduct due diligence on their water service to the proposed hotel/casino. (Boston Herald)

The looming decision over a third casino license, designated for Southeastern Massachusetts, comes with a lot of thorny questions for the state gambling commission. (Boston Globe)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

As America prepares to lose an hour’s sleep this weekend, there are efforts around the nation to eliminate Daylight Saving Time as well as a push by some New England lawmakers to move the region from the Eastern time zone to the Atlantic zone to take advantage of more light in the evening. (Associated Press)

ELECTIONS

Republicans pull their punches at last night’s debate. (Time) They dug into issues with “a degree of decorum that seemed to surprise even those on stage,” wrote the Globe’s Matt Viser and Annie Linskey.

Sen Marco Rubio says he is embarrassed by taking the low road a few weeks ago and says if he had it to do over again, he wouldn’t have made the juvenile jokes about Donald Trump. (U.S. News & World Report)

Ben Carson endorses Trump. (Washington Post)

Marcela Garcia says Trump is great for Latinos (in an unintended way). (Boston Globe)

State Rep. Keiko Orrall, Gov. Charlie Baker’s pick to be the state’s national committeewoman for the Republican Party, says she will support Trump if he is the nominee. Baker has said he will not vote for Trump in November. (State House News)

The conservative Boston Herald editorial page slams Hillary Clinton for unfair attacks on democratic socialist Bernie Sanders.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, whose family members were the original owners of Stop & Shop. joined 300 union members at a rally for a new contract from the supermarket chain now owned by Netherlands-based Ahold. (Patriot Ledger)

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell joined with other public and fishing industry officials urging NOAA to move the Northeast Fisheries Science Center from Woods Hole to New Bedford to bring it closer to the commercial industry. (Standard-Times)

EDUCATION

Former Boston Latin School headmaster Michael Contompasis talks to Radio Boston about racial tensions at the school. (WBUR)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A union ballot question regulating hospital rates spurs an unusual alliance — the Massachusetts Hospital Association opposes the initiative even though all but one of its members would benefit from it. (CommonWealth)

Massachusetts small business owners are dropping health coverage that has become unaffordable. (WBUR)

TRANSPORTATION

A change to the tax code lets Massachusetts train riders save as much as $1,400. (Masslive)

Who knew? There is an MBTA commuter rail stop exclusively for GE workers in Lynn. (Boston Globe)

The MBTA may pump $3 million into the trolley line that runs between Ashmont and Mattapan next week, but that would only keep it going for the near-term. The long-term prospects for the line remain unclear. (Dorchester Reporter)

If you’re a slow driver, get off Keller@Large’s roads — and his damn lawn.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Obama administration is moving to place limits on methane emissions at oil and gas sites, including those wells already in operation, a move industry officials say will burden them with added costs at a time of plummeting prices. (U.S. News & World Report)

Now that’s a tasty dish: A Portland, Maine, seafood wholesaler bought a four-clawed lobster but vowed the meaty crustacean will never be served on a plate. (Associated Press)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The state should stop the excessive use of juvenile detention, writes Jessica Lander. (Boston Globe)

A man who was wanted in the murder case of a woman whose body was found burned near MBTA tracks in Bridgewater has been arrested in the Dominican Republic. (The Enterprise)

A huge bust in New York City nabs dozens of gang members whose operation was flooding Massachusetts with drugs. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

WHDH-TV files suit challenging Comcast’s decision to take its NBC programming from WHDH and move it to NECN. (Boston Business Journal) Station owner Ed Ansin unloads on NBC to Shirley Leung. (Boston Globe)

Politico has audio and a transcript of a Breitbart reporter allegedly being roughed up by a Donald Trump staffer. A Washington Post reporter witnessed the incident and writes about it here.

 

  • Mhmjjj2012

    When I saw the title, “A lapse in news judgment,” I thought that meant CommonWealth Magazine’s editors planned on changing its charter schools news coverage to include the facts consistently omitted in previous coverage. I was wrong.