John Henry: Red Sox and Boston Globe Boss Man
Beth Healy, the Boston Globe business reporter covering the paper’s sale to Red Sox owner John Henry, is sort of living the dream right now. All she has to do is show up at work and, boom, the story comes to her. Take this morning, when the new Globe owner showed up unannounced in the paper’s newsroom.
John Henry pops in for a visit with editors at morning meeting
— Beth Healy (@HealyBeth) August 5, 2013
In baseball, they’d call that a room-service hop. So, how did Healy’s fellow Globies react to having the boss-man in the building?
Some, like Metro editor Jennifer Peter and reporter David Abel, just reported the news.
John Henry making the rounds in the #Globe newsroom, shaking hands. Says he’s just happy to be part of the team. No plans for a speech.
— Jennifer Peter (@GlobeJenPeter) August 5, 2013
Henry won’t be speaking or taking questions about his plans for the Globe, but he is making his way around the newsroom diligently. — David Abel (@davabel) August 5, 2013
Others wondered where Henry’s famous friends were.
Business reporter Erin Ailworth passed along a nice little anecdote. (Subtext alert: Henry likes the business section because he’s ugodly rich.)
John Henry, introducing himself around the Globe, just told the business reporters, “Ahh, my favorite section.”
— Erin Ailworth (@ailworth) August 5, 2013
And transportation reporter Martine Powers provided emergency advice for when your new boss unexpectedly decides to pop in:
Oh in the newsroom, as Henry makes rounds to shake reporters’ hands: “It’s too late for you guys to clean up your desks, so just look busy.”
— Martine Powers (@martinepowers) August 5, 2013
On the one hand, it makes total sense that Henry would be walking around the Globe newsroom. He did just agree to pay $70 million to buy it. On the other, the idea is still a little jarring. After all, this is John Henry, owner of the Red Sox, we’re talking about. Covering that team is a huge part of what the Globe does. Editor Brian McGrory has said that absolutely nothing will change about the Globe’s Sox coverage, but it’s going to be hard not to view the sports page skeptically. We all remember how, from 2002-2012, the New York Times Company owned both the Globe and a minority stake in the Red Sox. There was never any smoking gun or clearly egregious act on the part of the Globe, but there was always lots of muttering. Often, it just looked bad. And the current situation, with Henry as the man totally in control of both entities, blows away the Times Company’s previous conflict. Whether or not the paper does anything wrong, so long as the guy calling the shots at the paper is the owner of the Red Sox, the perception of conflict will always be there. That may not be fair, but it’s how it is. (And there already seems to be plenty of angst in the sports department over the situation.)
That being said, if Henry turns out to be a good steward for the rest of the paper, the Globe’s Red Sox credibility would be a small price to pay. The paper regularly pumps out truly impressive and important reporting on real things that matter in this city, and, as much as well all love baseball, it is just baseball. Besides, we haven’t been too high on the Globe’s sports coverage lately anyway. There are plenty of other outlets that can pick up the slack on the Red Sox. Of much greater concern is how the Globe reports on the Red Sox’s many and various business dealings in the city. As Dan Kennedy smartly points out at HuffPo, “The real issue is not how the Globe covers the Red Sox as a baseball team but rather how it manages the tricky task of reporting on a major business and civic organization that’s run by the paper’s new owner.” This is where it gets really tricky—we’re just going to have to see how it plays out.
In the meantime, here’s hoping that Henry had a good walk around the Globe newsroom this morning and, regardless of how the sports page ends up looking, his ownership of the paper does right by the city.