Posts Tagged ‘Sports Media Watch’

Self-Made Media Critic Bruce Allen Puts Sports Media Personalities On Watch

With four major professional teams that are hugely popular, sports are always a topic of conversation in New England. In print, online and through the airwaves, there is an abundance of coverage for the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins.

Bruce Allen of Boston Sports Media Watch has blogged about sports media since 2002. Click above to see others weigh in on local sports media figures. (Photo: Patrick McHugh)

To find the best reporting, fans often flock to Boston Sports Media Watch to catch up on what is said regarding their teams. Run by media critic Bruce Allen, BSMW points out the best – and worst – the local outlets have to offer.

“Growing up I found when I looked at the sports section I enjoyed the TV sports columns,” Allen said. “I liked learning about the people who were covering the sports but also seeing the opinions on how they were doing their job. That was interesting.”

Observing Boston’s sports media landscape from his home in Epping, N.H., Allen is very unlike the personalities he covers. While many are loud and cynical – like the 98.5 WBZ-FM radio duo of Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti – Allen is reserved and easygoing. He doesn’t seek the spotlight and admits he has never been the type to go over-the-top to generate interest.

The website began as a hobby for Allen, an IT professional who specializes in Internet publishing and owns Bruce Allen Media, LLC. Discouraged by the state of sports media coverage, he sought a forum to express his opinions. Local New Hampshire newspapers did not have space to devote to media columns, so Allen launched the blog on his own in April of 2002. It has since grown into a definitive source for all things related to New England sports media, drawing more than 500,000 page views per month.

“I thought it was something I could maybe do as a side project, something additional to keep me interested, maybe make a little bit of money from it,” said Allen. “I didn’t have an endgame of it being a full-time career.”

Each weekday, Allen rounds up articles written about the local teams and posts links for readers to view on their own. BSMW also features commentary on important media issues and features comprehensive reviews of media members.

After humble beginnings, the website gained more clicks when longtime Boston Globe sports media columnist Bill Griffith mentioned it in his Sunday notes column in June of 2002. Since then, both fans and media members alike frequent the blog.

“Bruce is well-known by everyone in the media,” said George Cain, whose work as a media critic has appeared on BSMW as well as Sports of Boston. “They know that he has made them popular. The simplicity of the website allows people who read the website to know writers that they would not have necessarily known. Its significance is very important.”

Unlike other critics who are employed by media outlets and therefore limited in their range of commentary, Allen is not associated with any of the groups he covers.

“A lot of people tell me it’s good to have an independent voice,” Allen said. “Not being affiliated with a media outlet I think is an advantage in some aspects.”

The website has proved to be a creative outlet for Allen’s own commentary. A great example is the flowchart he made which diagrams Patriots coverage in a very tongue-in-cheek manner.

Allen has not been shy about letting his readers know how he feels regarding the media coverage. Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan and WBZ-TV anchor Bob Lobel are two who have consistently earned his praise while Massarotti and Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy have drawn Allen’s criticism.

Over the years, many media members have benefitted from being mentioned for their work on the site, however, others have not taken kindly to being called out.

“Nobody likes to have their work criticized,” Allen said. “That’s just human nature. Thankfully I get a lot of feedback when I praise people too, so they appreciate that. I’ve gotten a number of angry emails; I’ve gotten some phone calls. I’ve tried to be level about it and explain to them what I was thinking and what I thought of when I did what I did.”

One of Allen’s biggest issues with modern sports coverage is the prevalence of each writer’s opinions showing through in their work.

“That’s probably the biggest beef I have with sports media nowadays is that it’s more opinionated than fact,” Allen said. “That creeps into the beat writers of the different sports, which you never saw years ago. Now they sneak in their opinion into their columns or their notebook pieces.”

Allen isn’t the only observer to see opinions seep into sports coverage. Media critic Paulsen [who only goes by one name] runs Sports Media Watch, a blog launched in 2006 that looks at trends in national sports coverage and the personalities associated with them. Like Allen, Paulsen senses that sports media coverage has become brash and bold.

“In recent years, we’ve seen a real shift toward loud, in-your-face style opinion in sports media, with an emphasis on cheap shots and cynicism,” Paulsen said. “Some – Bob Costas, for example – would attribute that to the rise of blogs, but I would go back perhaps to the launch of [the ESPN show] “Pardon the Interruption” in 2001. While “PTI” was never as bad as some of its predecessors, it set the stage for what we see today on both television and in print or online.”

Though keeping checks and balances on the media tends to ruffle some feathers, Cain believes an objective voice is necessary in sports.

“There are a hundred websites that critique news stations and how they cover the media,” Cain said. “There are very few on how they cover sports. That’s very important because bias is everywhere in our society … It’s important to have a website for people who maybe don’t notice those sorts of things to point out some of the biases going on every single day and see some of the hypocrisy of the media.”

Cain is one of many who have contributed guest work to BSMW. Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites submits a weekly post filled with links to national media stories, while former Boston Herald columnist Michael Gee, former Comcast SportsNet New England reporter Jackie Pepper and former WHDH-TV executive sports director and current Boston University professor Frank Shorr have all been featured on the site as well.

Allen himself has been featured on SB Nation Boston, where he writes a weekly media column, as well as Patriots Football Weekly where he interviews national media figures.

On April 8 BSMW reached a milestone with its 10-year anniversary, an occasion Allen used to reflect on his experiences and thank those who assisted him. With a wife and two kids, as well as a third arriving next month, Allen hopes to keep the blog going strong, but knows it will be a challenge.

“Ten years is a big deal for any website, especially a blog,” Allen said. “They weren’t that common at all when I started so it’s noteworthy in that respect. I have been thinking about [the future] a lot. I’ve thought of a few different concepts on how I could keep it going. I wouldn’t mind if other people wanted to come in and contribute. Hopefully people continue to read and enjoy it.”

Increasingly, sports coverage has extended to include social media. Both reporters and the teams they cover have turned to social media to connect with fans. Check out the video below to learn how social media has impacted sports.

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I Get By With A Little Help From My (Blogging) Friends

Since starting this blog about sports and money, I’ve learned that good blogging is nothing without good sources. Here are some of my go-to websites for information on the financial side of sports.

My first stop is typically to Darren Rovell’s “Sports Biz” blog on CNBC.com. Rovell is generally regarded as one of the most-trusted sources for information on sports business. I really like his hands-on approach to reporting. He tries very hard to get one-on-one interviews with subjects and is willing to travel anywhere and do anything to bring unique content. Rovell does even better work on his Twitter account, constantly updating his followers at an astounding rate.

Another of my favorites is the Wall Street Journal’s sports section. The WSJ has interesting feature stories, like this one on the history of Harvard’s basketball program, and always has an eye on stories that aren’t being covered elsewhere, such as the battle between the state of New Jersey and the Giants and Jets over a new shopping mall.

Similar to WSJ, Forbes has a sports section dedicated to sports and money. I like Forbes because the stories focus on the economic implications of news items that are grabbing headlines, but explain them in a simple manner. An example is the work they did on Mark Sanchez’s new contract with the Jets.

In terms of in-depth investigation, no site does it better than Sports by Brooks. The stories are mostly based on scandals in sports, such as the Penn State fiasco. What sets Brooks apart is the extraordinary amount of detail he puts into investigations via interviews, and especially in researching court documents.

One website that brings in guest writers who have knowledge of specific subjects is Business of College Sports. Devoted purely to university athletics, the site digs up interesting facts and figures, such as this chart on college basketball revenue and attendance.

These are my main sites for generating content. Others I check out include: Awful Announcing, Boston Sports Media Watch, CBS Sports, ESPN, NBC Sports, Sports Law Blog, Sports Media Journal, Sports Media Watch and Yahoo! Sports.

Follow the Leader: Using Twitter to Enhance My Blog

Until Tuesday I was a member of the minority who did not have a Twitter account. For me Twitter was just another social media network that I would have little interest in using or checking. That finally changed when @patrickmchugh89 joined the Twitter universe.

The most popular bird on the Internet

In the interest of gathering more information for my blog, here are some of the people I follow, what they tweet about, and how they help me.

@darrenrovell is the Twitter handle of CNBC’s Darren Rovell, whose popular blog Sports Biz looks at the business aspect of sports, including endorsements, advertisement, ticket sales, contracts, etc. Rovell tweets lots of facts and figures on these topics, and is often in the field covering events to post twitpics as well.

@paulsen_smw is the Twitter handle of the person who writes and runs Sports Media Watch, which examines how sports are being broadcast on television and how many people are watching. The Twitter feed alerts followers when a new article has been posted to the website, but unfortunately doesn’t add much beyond that.

@SPORTSbyBROOKS is the Twitter handle of Brooks, the main writer for Sports by Brooks. The website has a lot to say about sports scandals, especially in college sports. The Twitter feed has a little bit of everything, from quick factoids to updates about new articles being posted, as well as debates with followers over the topics he is covering.

@awfulannouncing is the Twitter handle of Brian Powell, who writes the blog Awful Announcing, which has been “putting announcers on notice since 2006.” As a sports announcer myself I find Powell’s blog entertaining and informative because he pays close attention to who is calling the games and how they’re doing. He conducts a lot of interviews with media personalities, and posts about these and updates to his blog on his Twitter feed.

@bruceallen is the Twitter handle of Bruce Allen, whose blog Boston Sports Media Watch examines how Boston’s local teams are covered in the media. Allen mostly retweets the stories and blog items when they have been posted.

@SBJSBD is the Twitter handle of Sports Business Journal Daily, which covers sports business from a variety of angles. The blog breaks its coverage into subcategories such as Marketing and Sponsorship, Media, People and Pop Culture and Research and Ratings to name a few. The Twitter feed alerts followers when a new item has been posted to the website, which is helpful considering how many subcategories there are.

@SMJournal is the Twitter handle of Keith Thibault, who writes the blog Sports Media Journal about where to find coverage of sports items, as well as critiques this coverage. The Twitter feed alerts when new items have been posted, which is helpful especially for the podcasts.

@Ourand_SBJ is the Twitter handle of John Ourand, who writes for Sports Business Journal. Ourand is one of the better writers on SBJ and gives interesting insight on his Twitter feed, as well as mix in some humor.

@BizCollegeSport is the Twitter handle of BusinessofCollegeSports.com, which looks at financial trends in college sports. The feed posts quick hits on news items and enjoys some fun banter with followers.

@WSJSports is the Twitter handle of Adam Thompson, who writes for the Wall Street Journal’s sports department. Thompson tweets about the latest financial trends in sports, and posts links to his latest blog items.

– Finally, a collection of handle I follow that tweet about sports in general: @ESPN, @ESPNResearch, @NBCSN, @CBSSports and @YahooSports.

Photo (cc) by eldh and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

The Payroll: Good Sources of Information on Money and Sports

As every good journalist knows you can’t make it in the business without good sources. To help me in my quest for anything and everything related to the business of sports, here are some websites I will be following, and you should too:

Darren Rovell speaking to some Rays fans. Safe to say Darren has a larger audience on his blog.

The gold standard is Darren Rovell’s Sports Biz blog on CNBC. What makes Sports Biz the best is that it’s the perfect blend of sports and money. Rovell is a sports enthusiast at his core and does a lot of cool field work, including running the NYC Marathon, challenging Dwyane Wade to some hoops, and co-piloting with NASCAR racers among other adventures. Match that with CNBC’s financial acumen and Rovell becomes the go-to person in terms of trends, endorsement deals, contract signings and a host of other topics. For those of you who love the Twitter machine, you can follow him here.

Advertisers always want to know who is watching what, and Sports Media Watch does a great job breaking this down. SMW studies which games or shows received the highest TV ratings and gives its take on these trends. For instance, the watchmen found the Patriots-Broncos playoff game scored surprisingly lower than CBS execs predicted. How could Tom Brady and Tim Tebow not equal ratings galore? SMW points out that Saturday night is when people like to go out, so putting the game on Sunday likely would have drawn more viewers. Check out the Twitter page for more goodies as well.

Sports by Brooks gives some interesting insight into sports business, focusing mostly on scandals in the games we love. Not surprisingly, the Penn State fiasco has taken over the site in the last month. Follow the Twitter birdie here.

Since the advent of ESPN (I’ll get to them in a bit) the personalities who cover sports have become nearly as famous as the athletes themselves. Awful Announcing is a site that puts these personalities under the microscope and looks at the good, the bad and the ugly of the industry. Twitter handle here.

Similar to Awful Announcing, Boston Sports Media Watch is one of my favorites on a local level. The site looks at how the local teams (Pats, B’s, C’s, Sox) are covered, who is covering them, and includes links to local newspaper, radio and TV websites. Consider it sports business on a micro level. Author Bruce Allen is on Twitter here.

One blog I find strikingly similar to what I plan to look at is the blog Money Players by Marc Isenberg. The blog’s tagline: “The Money. The Players. The business of professional sports, from high school to college to the pros.” I stumbled upon this site only recently, but it looks like it should provide some topics to brainstorm on.

Finally in terms of straight sports coverage I’ll check out ESPN, Yahoo!, CBS Sports, and NBC Sports among others. The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network has taken some flak recently for going too heavy on the entertainment on going too lightly on the sports. This is certainly true, but it still remains the “Worldwide Leader” for a reason.

Photo (cc) by Fifth World Art and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

From the Gridiron to the Diamond, It’s All About the Money

In its purest form sports is all about competition, just athletes performing against the clock or one another in a test of athletic prowess. But even the sports world cannot escape the clutches of business influence, advertising, sales, marketing and promotion. In other words, even sports comes down to the money.

Don’t think this is true? Here’s a question for you: Who is the greatest basketball player of all time? Michael Jordan, right? The highlights don’t lie, Jordan could fly. Seeking to capitalize on MJ’s incredible talent, companies such as Nike, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Wheaties and a host of others used him as their poster boy to sell products. Jordan’s presence in these ads enhanced his image not only as a celebrity, but may have made him seem like an even better player than he already was. Check out Douglas Kellner’s take on the “spectacle” of Jordan and then pretend if you never saw a Jordan ad. Still think he’s the best baller? You might, but it definitely makes you think harder.

The influence of money is obviously ingrained in professional sports, but don’t think amateur athletes don’t get caught in the web as well. The enormous popularity of college football and college basketball has allowed schools to make huge sums of money off their 18 to 22-year-old players, who receive scholarships but don’t get a piece of the pie. Just last year, the NCAA granted a $2,000 stipend to players, a proposal that is already being reworked. Considering the tenuous system of college athletics, Charlie Pierce believes compensation is just the first step in an entire reconstruction of the college athletic model.

These are just of the examples of business and the bottom line’s influence on sports. Through this blog I hope to explore some of the major topics at hand in sports that have major money consequences. CNBC’s Darren Rovel does great work studying this through his Sports Biz blog, as well as sites such as Sports By Brooks, Sports Media Watch and others. My hope is that this blog will spark discussion of not just X’s and O’s, but expenses and cash flows.