Bradford’s work is widely praised by Sox die-hards. And though Tomase has plenty of critics, he’s done some important work. Patriots loyalists were especially incensed by his report, just before this year’s Super Bowl, that an unnamed Patriots employee had illegally videotaped the St. Louis Rams prior to Super Bowl XXXVI. But with former Patriots employee Matt Walsh scheduled to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell later this month about illegal videotaping, Tomase’s story looks groundbreaking. In addition, Tomase covered Randy Moss’s first season in New England at least as well as anybody else in the local press.
In short, sports coverage is one area where the Herald has a legitimate chance to compete with the Globe, day in and day out — particularly after the latest round of Globe departures.
“Overall,” says Bruce Allen of Boston Sports Media Watch, a Web site devoted (as its name suggests) to local sports coverage, “the Globe might still have the stronger sports section. But not by much.”
Strangely, neither Sullivan, the Globe’s sports editor, nor Hank Hryniewicz, his Herald counterpart, are willing to admit that anything significant has changed. “The competition is always there with the Herald,” says Sullivan. “I don’t see it as being any different because we’ve lost some valuable people. . . . We have fewer people, and that’s going to affect the section, there’s no denying that. But what we continue to do, we’ll do very well.”
Hryniewicz, meanwhile, offers this trash-talking variation on the nothing’s-changed theme: “I still think we’ll kick their butts. Quite honestly, the guys working in this department relish the battle that goes on daily against the Globe. They live for it; that’s their fuel. . . . Honest to God, if someone laid the Globe staff on one side of the table and the Herald staff on the other, and said, ‘Who are you picking?’, I’d pick the Herald staff.”
Thanks, guys. (You’ve both obviously interviewed too many athletes.) The fact is, this could be a golden opportunity for Herald publisher Pat Purcell — if he has the gumption to take it.
Imagine, just for the hell of it, that Purcell opens his wallet and adds seven more writers to his sports staff, just enough to claim staffing superiority over the Globe. Imagine, too, that there’s a young columnist in the mix, or a black columnist — or maybe even a young black columnist! There are plenty of other wish-list hires, too: a dedicated sports-feature writer, a full-time sports blogger, even an investigative sports reporter. If Purcell acted fast, he could unveil his pumped-up sports section and roll out a new marketing campaign just in time for the start of the next Patriots season — something like, “Herald Sports: the Biggest and the Best.” He could use the Herald’s strong relationship with WEEI-AM 850 to plug his fortified sports section on air. And with Boston’s teams enjoying an unprecedented period of dominance (except for the Bruins, but whatever), he’d find an audience around the country, not just here in New England.
How to pay for this expansion? Pull a reporter or two from the news section; use some cash from that billboard over Herald HQ (which currently goes to Purcell, not the paper); or add some of the costs to the Herald’s operating deficit.