Have you seen the re-designed mobile site for Boston.com?

A screenshot of the new mobile site for Boston.com.
A screenshot of the new mobile site for Boston.com.

As part of the change that is occurring at Boston.com and the Boston Globe, the site is going through a re-design.The mobile portion of the site launched last week. You can catch a glimpse of it above or visit mobile.boston.com.

The cool thing is the site also has responsive design, just like BostonGlobe.com. So it’s built in the mold of new-ish sites BetaBoston.com and BDCWire.com.

Here’s some sample screenshots.

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Change is coming

So I’ve been meaning to address a number of professional changes for me for some time. The tricky thing is you never know how much you can say and who is gonna throw a fit because you said it. (And then after awhile you just lose track of the time.)

No mas!

About two weeks ago, we had a major shakeup at Boston.com that will help the site better differentiate itself from the Boston Globe. For all of my friends and family that are wondering, yes, there is a difference between the two sites. While Boston.com has been the portal site of the Boston Globe newspaper since 1995, that relationship between the paper and the site changed significantly when the paper decided to launch BostonGlobe.com in September 2010 (it went live just a year later). When the site went live, we began the company’s two-site strategy, with one site remaining free (Boston.com) and the other subscriber based (BostonGlobe.com). Obviously that confused everyone involved because multiple pieces of content, whether they be stories, photos, or video, were on both sites.

I can’t tell you how many times I tried to explain to Claudia what the difference was between the two sites. Let’s just say she never fully understood.
Continue reading “Change is coming”

The Boston Globe will be owned by John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox

News broke early Saturday morning that John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, had struck a deal to purchase the New England Media group for $70 million cash.

The deal includes the Boston Globe, Boston.com, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, the Globe’s direct mail business, and a 49 percent stake in the Metro Boston newspaper, which is expected to close in 30 to 60 days.

Since the whispers of Henry’s desires to own the group, most notably the Globe, there has been incessant speculation on what that could mean for the paper’s coverage of the Red Sox, a local institution more beloved than any other in New England. A number of notable persons, except for Henry, have already commented on the issue. Here’s a sampling.

Joe Sullivan, the Globe’s sports editor, in the New York Times:

“We don’t know what the new situation is going to be in terms of hierarchy, but I would hope to be able to continue to cover the Red Sox the way we always have, “ the sports editor, Joe Sullivan, said.

Acknowledging the potential conflict of interest, Sullivan said, “It will be there, hanging in the air.” He said the newspaper might need to include disclaimers when writing about Henry, as it did when The Times had an ownership stake in the team for 10 years. The Times sold its final stake in the group in 2012.

Dan Shaughnessy, a Globe sports columnist and prominent critic of the Red Sox, also in the Times:

“There’s an inherent conflict of interest which no one can do anything about,” Shaughnessy said. “All we can hope for is that everyone is allowed to do his job professionally and that we are able to keep our independence.”

Brian McGrory, the Globe’s editor, as quoted by his own newspaper:

“We have no plans whatsoever to change our Red Sox coverage specifically, or our sports coverage in general, nor will we be asked,” Globe editor Brian McGrory said Saturday. “The Globe’s sports reporting and commentary is the gold standard in the industry.”

There have also been several articles analyzing the sale and what it will mean for our journalists.

As someone who is in the sports department as an employee of Boston.com, I’m sure there is far more to be concerned with than the our day-to-day Red Sox coverage. Instead, it will be more interesting to see how the Globe’s coverage of Henry’s other financial interests — the street closures around Fenway Park, his stake in other sports franchises — is handled going forward.

I do look forward to Henry becoming owner of the Globe because he is local and he represents a clean slate for the business interests of the New England Media Group. That brings excitement, but also fear of the unknown. The latest news is that he will be at the Globe on Monday. It’s my day off, but I think I will venture in to see what, if anything, he has to say.

Congratulations to Bob Butler, new president of NABJ

Bob Butler
Bob Butler
I was very happy to hear that Bob Butler, someone I’ve known now for more than six years, was elected as the president of the National Association of Black Journalists on Friday.

Bob is a well-respected journalist, but he’s also a tireless supporter of NABJ and an advocate for black journalists in newsrooms across the country. He’ll fit right in as leader for the association following Greg Lee’s tenure, my former colleague at the Boston Globe and the current Sun-Sentinel executive sports editor.

With the backdrop of two national stories so closely related to the African-American diaspora — a black president and the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial — it is more important than ever to have a strong association that pushes for fair coverage on the airwaves, in print, and online. Bob not only understands that, but he has the connections to start those hard and uncomfortable conversations right away.

In my humble opinion, NABJ will be just fine these next two years.

A collection of links on the Boston Globe and Boston.com in the past month

There’s been much written about the Boston Globe after news of the company’s plan to “untangle” its two websites, Boston.com and BostonGlobe.com, was announced followed by news that the New England Media Group — which includes the Globe, Worcester Telegram & Gazette and 49 percent of Metro Boston — was to be sold from the New York Times Company just a few days later.

Allow me, if you will, to bookmark some of the articles written about this right now. Maybe in six months or so, when the dust has settled, we can look back and compare and contrast the coverage of these topics with reality. For my own personal sake, I think it will be interesting.

And in an attempt to be transparent, I should add that I know nothing of the Globe’s business dealings outside of what’s been shared publicly. That’s the nature of the game when you’re at the bottom of the food chain.

Now, onto the links:

Feb. 18: “McGrory: Boston Globe will ‘untangle’ its two websites” by Andrew Beaujon, Poynter.org — This piece came out in Poytner a little more than two weeks after the idea to untangle the two sites had been unveiled by new editor Brian McGrory in the newsroom. McGrory speaks for himself here, saying “Boston.com will be in many ways the front page of Boston. BostonGlobe.com will be the front page of the Boston Globe.”

Feb. 18: “Brian McGrory wants to restrict free content” by Dan Kennedy — This is some analysis from a Northeastern journalism professor who often scrutinizes the Globe on his site following the Poynter article the same day. He offers this thought: “The Globe has to pay the bills, of course. I just hope McGrory and company understand how many free alternatives are out there. Even if they’re not as good as the Globe, they may prove to be good enough for those determined not to pay. An overly restrictive paywall could also trigger new competition.”

Feb. 21: “New York Times Co. puts Boston Globe up for sale” by Edmund Lee and Jeffrey McCracken for Bloomberg — Bloomberg broke the story of the Globe’s impending sale. I was already home when the news broke so I didn’t see this until I logged onto our site and the Globe had posted its own story.

Feb. 22: “New York Times exec outlines Boston Globe sale process to employees” by Beth Healy of the Boston Globe — Vice chairman Michael Golden traveled to Boston to discuss the sale with the Globe staff along with publisher Chris Mayer. Healy quotes Golden: “We have no intention to send the New England Media Group to the slaughterhouse.”

Feb 21: “The newsonomics of the Boston Globe sale” by Ken Doctor for Nieman Journalism Lab — Doctor analyzes the potential sale price point for the Globe, but also wonders whether the NYT Co. will put the newspaper and its related properties in good hands. Doctor asks, “How much will the Times Co. — which has been a good steward of impressive Boston journalism — use civic interest as a filter in its consideration of buyers?”

Feb. 22: ” ‘Scared’ Globe staffers press for answers” by Jessica Heslam, Christine McConville, and Matt Stout of the Boston Herald — The Herald’s story has a juicy headline and a sexy lead, but there’s nothing here new: “Blindsided Boston Globe employees — still reeling after The New York Times Co. put the Hub paper up for sale again — are slated to come face-to-face this morning with a top Gray Lady exec for the start of what could be a messy split, including the likely demand for contract talks from the paper’s 10 unions, insiders said.”

Feb. 22: Ernie Boch Jr. exploring bid to buy Boston Globe by Greg Walsh of the Boston Business Journal — Boch Jr., a car magnate, was the first potential buyer to go public with his intentions. In a statement released to Boston Business Journal first, and later picked up around the region, his spokesman said: “Ernie Boch Jr., president and CEO of Boch Enterprises and a lifelong Bostonian, is exploring the opportunity of purchasing the Boston Globe. Ernie is teaming up with Bruce Mittman, president and CEO of Mittcom (the Newton marketing agency), and partner in Community Broadcasters (the radio station group in upstate New York). Together they bring the financial resources and decades of experience in media and marketing necessary to make this purchase viable.”

Feb. 22: “Former Globe executive in talks with the Times Co. about sale” by the Boston Globe — Straight from the story: “Rick Daniels, a former Boston Globe executive who most recently was president of Gatehouse Media, and Boston private equity investor Heb Ryan have been in discussions with the Times Co. and last month submitted a bid of about $100 million to buy The Boston Globe, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.”

Of course, there’s been more speculation and re-writes of the these articles, including a look at 25 potential buyers by one site, but there isn’t much hard news to point to beyond what is already known. Hopefully, I can keep track of what’s written right here. At least through the sales process.

Trying to prepare myself

So I’m out on a limb saying the Patriots are going to beat the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship and will advance to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. I’m not just saying this flippantly. I’ve went out and purchased my tickets to New Orleans and now I’m trying to prepare myself for the inevitable breaking news/multimedia moment during Super Bowl week.

Last year, I was dependent on my iPhone (which held up for the most part) in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl. But I dreaded lugging around my MacBook, at almost 8 pounds, which is what I used to do the brunt of my work. This year, if the Patriots win, I’m traveling lighter with my iPad. I just bought a new Bluetooth enabled keyboard to go along with it, so I’ll be able to type normally and with the same speed I’m accustomed to doing.

I still have worries though. For one, my iPad is a wifi only tablet, meaning if there isn’t any wifi, it isn’t worth the trouble of lugging around. Similarly, my iPhone 4S has terrible battery life. And it sucks typing on it, too. However, between the two I figure I can be as mobile as possible. I’ve discovered that my phone also can link with the Bluetooth keyboard and in doing so keeps me online at all times — so long as I have battery life.

Thank God I keep a charger close by.

All of this yammering will be worth it if the Patriots win. Then I’ll be able to test everything. For some reason, that makes me excited. And that’s how you know I’m a nerd.

What’s it mean to be a fan of the game

The weird thing about covering the 49ers for my first time in the regular season, when everybody around you professionally and personally knows you’ve followed the team your whole life, is everybody expects it to be a big deal to you no matter if they win or lose.

I’m sorry but that’s just not the case for me. Win, lose, or draw, it’s all just work at the end of the day. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a good game, so long as it is played well, appears fair, and ends at a decent time. Sunday’s 42-34 win for the 49ers over the New England Patriots definitely fits the bill. At least partly. But I certainly didn’t care which way the game went. I’m just glad I didn’t have to watch the Patriots pounce on another team after they demolished the Houston Texans. That was atrocious.

For me, as a football writer and a fan of the game, what’s most important is a high level of competition. Nothing is better than a good game with two worthy opponents going toe to toe. I’m not a fan of blowouts by any means. I’ll leave that to the diehards who paint their faces. The 49ers wouldn’t even be worth my time if they weren’t such an interesting and dynamic team. I’d treat them like the Oakland Raiders if that weren’t the case, out of sight and out of mind.

Instead, I think because I’ve written about the 49ers for more than 10 years now — in training camp, in columns for my previous newspaper, and on this site — my family and friends hold certain assumptions about whether I’m a fan or not. Even some colleagues may view me as a fan, although they would be wrong to do so. In fact, the conversation came up in the press box after Sunday night’s game at Gillette Stadium. My response is a simple one, and it may be hard for some to understand: I like good football. I’d be remiss if I didn’t find certain joy from watching the 49ers play well, or upset if they played poorly. But I feel exactly the same way about the the Patriots, the New York Jets, the Jacksonville Jaguars (who I have the unfortunate pleasure of watching this weekend) and every other NFL team.

For the Patriots, a team I’m paid to watch and write about, it’s tough to see them play bad games when their opponents are clearly not up to the task. I feel like I’m in a perpetual state of rooting for the underdog, just to see a good game. That’s not what I want. That’s not what I want to go home and talk about.

For the 49ers, a team that my family and friends follow closely, it’s all a regional thing. They are all my family and friends know, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I’m trying to do more with my football writing career than just following the 49ers, while at the same time remembering where I came from. So I pay attention while living 3,000 miles away and continue to write about a team that I have very little professional interest in.

It’s hard enough to do what I do, trying to be creative, provide insight, and stay on the ball with all of the storylines for the Patriots, and then be questioned about who I’m rooting for. All I can say is the last thing I want to do is be bored to death. If anything, that’s what being a fan of the game means to me. On Sunday, I got to catch one of the few good games in the NFL. I was happy about that.

I don’t know what other kind of fan I could be.

Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan says goodbye after 44 years – Sports – The Boston Globe

“Day One did not begin well. En route to the Globe for my first day as a summer intern, I was sideswiped on Storrow Drive by a Bloodmobile.”

via Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan says goodbye after 44 years – Sports – The Boston Globe.

One of my favorite moments hanging with Bob Ryan was back in Vancouver in 2011 when the Boston Bruins were battling with the Canucks for the Stanley Cup. Bob and I so happened to pull the short straw — or maybe it was the long one — and were asked to stay in Vancouver during Game 6, which was being played in Boston, to save the Globe money and so we could have staff in place if and when the teams would return to the west coast for Game 7. (It was something we anticipated and were ultimately right about.) Those were long flights, and if you’ve covered any team in pro sports, you know that beating the home team to its next destination is nearly impossible. During the Stanley Cup, the Bruins and Canucks had gotten used to holding press conferences after touching down and making their way to the rink.

Anyways, Bob and I had the awesome task of waiting out Game 6, while also enjoying Vancouver. Now Bob is more of a lone wolf, so I didn’t see him out much. But at night, when the NBA Finals were playing concurrently, I caught him at the hotel bar for some pick-me-ups and some basketball talk. It was during those conversations that I got his impression of the NBA lockout, a topic I had dismissed as easily as I had the NFL lockout. And to be fair to myself, the issues in the NBA were still below the radar nationally. But not for Bob. He knew then, ahead of all the hoopla, that the NBA and its players association were far apart. He told me he wasn’t sure the NBA was going to have a season.

After a lengthy lockout, followed by a 66-game season, I realized that he’s not only pretty good at recapping some of the finest moments in sports history, but he’s also pretty good at predicting outcomes as well. If only he were a betting man. Maybe he can take that up in semi-retirement.

One last story.

One of the first assignments I worked on for Boston.com and the Globe was at a Celtics game with Bob in the building. At the time, I wasn’t well versed with the protocol at TD Garden, the seating arrangements, etc. After the pregame locker room access, I made my way to the press seats, which are tucked away in a corner of the Garden. The section has a sort of hierarchy to them, with the front four seats dedicated to the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe. The Globe typically has three to five seats at games, with the other seats much higher than the two up front. Because I was (and continue to be an early bird), I took one of the first two seats because they weren’t assigned by name.

Little did I know.

First to come by was Frank Dell’Apa, a Globe veteran, who is by most accounts, unnerved by anything. It was our first meeting. We introduced ourselves, he sat down next to me, and we started to get ready for the game. Next to come by was Bob, who looked over, waved, and continued up the section to the next available seat. And lastly, Julian Benbow, our Globe colleague and the Celtics beat writer at the time, came by on his day off to observe and stopped to talk to me.

“What are you doing,” Julian asked.

“What do you mean,” I replied.

Julian went on to educate me how I was sitting in the wrong seat. In particular, I was sitting in Bob Ryan’s seat. The front two seats he told me were meant for the Globe’s beat writer, Dell’Apa for the day, and the columnist on duty. Feeling a little embarrassed, I said nothing. But as the game got going, and I hadn’t yet moved, Julian decided to come down from the higher seats and talk to me again.

“Do you know people are sitting around and talking about why Bob Ryan is sitting up here and you’re down there?” he queried.

This wasn’t going well. So after the first quarter — a meaningless game against the Utah Jazz — I walked up to Bob, who was sitting next to Julian about six rows above, and told him I had no idea what the deal was with the seating (a weak apology, I admit) and asked him if he wanted to switch spots.

Bob wasn’t worried about it. In fact, Bob just brushed it off.

I remember thinking later that night how cool he was about the situation. Seating can be, and has been known to be, quite a contentious discussion in the press box. Just ask anyone sitting in the back row at Fenway Park. But that moment sort of crystalized what kind of person Bob was. Despite his celebrity — which he doesn’t like to admit to — he is as down to Earth as any other eccentric in this business, and one that doesn’t have the least bit of diva to him.

He’s a good guy and and I’ll miss the opportunity to have any more drinks with him on the road. As everyone who has ever known him will tell you, his stories are great and his memory is phenomenal. That combination, unfortunately for the Globe, is irreplaceable.

Lucky for the Globe, he is still going to write 30-40 times a year on Sundays.