Will John Henry hurt the integrity of the Globe's Sox coverage?
John Henry said Wednesday that, as the new owner of the Boston Globe, he would work to make the newspaper “aggressively relevant,” according to the AP. But regardless of what Henry does for the rest of the newspaper, does his being the principal owner of the Red Sox hurt the Globe’s journalistic integrity when it comes to reporting on the team?
The answer is not really a simple yes or no.
First, there’s the question of how involved Henry will actually be with the Globe. The owner of a newspaper doesn’t necessarily have as much to do with its content as the managing editor or the publisher does. He’ll give his input as to what he wants covered and how he wants it done in general, but he won’t be in there everyday telling them what to write. Editors will be.
Photo courtesy of Forbes
Still, it’s easy to imagine a situation where Henry may want the Red Sox covered more favorably than they should be. Take the Great Beer and Chicken Debacle of ‘11. Were something like that to happen with John Henry as the Globe owner, he might want to downplay it, regardless of what other publications were saying.
But as is the case with all publications, it will be hard for Henry to restrict the longtime writers in what they write, and the sports section at the Globe happens to have quite a few seasoned vets. I imagine that Dan Shaughnessy won’t take too much editorial direction from Henry for instance.
Henry’s position could affect a younger writer whose job isn’t as secure though. It’s probably hard to criticize the team, and of course its ownership, with John Henry looking over your shoulder.
As a journalist though, I don’t see this being too much of a problem. Sportswriting is inherently biased because it has to be directed at a very specific readership. It’s already hard enough to write about sports as a fan, so working for the owner of a franchise shouldn’t be a challenge that these writers can’t handle. It helps that Henry, for the most part, has been a noncontroversial owner. Also, given the fact that all the scandal with the Red Sox has subsided after pulling off what was arguably one of the best Cinderella stories in sports history, they hopefully won’t have to write anything too negative too soon.