Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy wrote another in a series of tough commentaries Monday about the firing of Don Orsillo, the popular Red Sox announcer who’s been let go by New England Sports Network (NESN). But as the evening wore on, one sentence was dropped from the piece, published on the Globe’s website in advance of Tuesday’s print edition. The sentence read:
Two Sox employees told the Globe that workers at Fenway turnstiles were ordered to confiscate any signs supporting Orsillo as fans entered Fenway.
Jared Carrabis has the before and after:
The Globe deleted the line about the Red Sox confiscating Don Orsillo signs, but screenshots are a thing. pic.twitter.com/IRiBbrxheb
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) September 1, 2015
Given that Globe publisher John Henry is also principal owner of the Red Sox, which in turn owns most of NESN, Carrabis’ tweet set off a storm. That led David Skok, the Globe’s managing editor for digital and general manager of BostonGlobe.com, to respond: “Story was published early, sourcing was weak so the line was removed. Our coverage on this speaks for itself.”
I emailed Shaughnessy. He got back to me immediately, saying, “It’s all part of the editing process that is always ongoing.” When I followed up by asking him how he would respond to Orsillo fans who suspect that Red Sox ownership intervened, he said only: “It is part of the Globe editing process.”
So what to make of this? It is a fact that the Globe has been pretty tough in covering the Orsillo story. Shaughnessy and sports media columnist Chad Finn have each weighed in several times, with Finn citing “NESN’s bewildering mishandling of the situation.” Boston Herald sports columnist Steve Buckley got an exclusive with Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, whose reasoning for replacing Orsillo boiled down to a belief that replacement-to-be Dave O’Brien would be better. But Shaughnessy picked up on Buckley’s column, even linking to his competitor.
In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I think we should take Skok and Shaughnessy at their word. Far from soft-pedaling the firing of Orsillo, the Globe has been fairly relentless in going after NESN for what can only be described as a foolish move. (Yes, I signed the petition to keep Orsillo.)
Monday night’s mini-drama was just another sign that John Henry’s ownership of the Red Sox is always going to be an issue — regardless of the reality.
More: After I posted this late last night, I received several comments on Twitter and Facebook wondering why the Globe didn’t make some note of the change in Shaughnessy’s column. For instance, here’s Nathan Lamb:
— Nathan Lamb (@nathanl75) September 1, 2015
Based on my observations, I’d say that newspapers in general — the Globe among them — are haphazard about acknowledging changes made to online stories until after those stories have appeared in print. The mentality seems to be that everything is a work-in-progress until a tree has been sacrificed to immortalize it.
I don’t know that it makes sense to have a policy that would be 100 percent consistent. In this case, though, the deleted sentence drew enough attention that the Globe ought to have inserted something into Shaughnessy’s column, even if it was a brief note that it had been updated.
Still more: Sounds like the Globe may have gotten some serious pushback from the Red Sox on the accuracy of Shaughnessy’s reporting, according to Deadspin.
And even more: From Mike Silverman of the Boston Herald:
A nasty rumor spread that the owners let the stadium’s security forces know any pro-Orsillo signs were to be confiscated, but a survey of six security personnel at an entrance gate and throughout the stadium said no special Orsillo signage edict was in effect.
A team spokesman confirmed that like every night, signs would not be allowed in or confiscated once they were inside only if they blocked somebody’s view or contained profanities.