A big year for Remy-related blog posts at Media Nation

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Photo (cc) by Paul. Some rights reserved.

On Tuesday I posted WordPress’ robo-generated report on my year in blogging. But you knew I wasn’t going to stop there, didn’t you? For the past several years I’ve been writing an end-of-the-year round-up of my top 10 posts. It’s always interesting to me to see what resonates most with my readers.

These lists always come with caveats, and this year’s has a big one. Starting last spring, I began offering what I thought were my better blog posts to my friends at WGBHNews.org, who published them first and promoted them on social media. Though I later reposted them on Media Nation, they had already lost a lot of their juice by that point. So it’s hard to know what my top 10 list really means. Maybe I should call this list “The Best of the Rest.”

And away we go.

1. Is Jerry Remy’s broadcasting career finally over? (March 23). The answer, as it turned out, was “no.” But following a devastating story in The Boston Globe by Eric Moskowitz on Remy’s homicidal son, Jared, and the lengths to which Jerry Remy and his wife, Phoebe, had enabled his violent behavior, it sure looked that way, if only for a brief moment. Within days, though, Jerry Remy was back in the broadcast booth, yukking it up uncomfortably with Don Orsillo during Red Sox games. There was all kinds of internal intrigue to this. Both the Globe and the Red Sox are owned by John Henry, who is also a part-owner of Remy’s employer, New England Sports Network. (Page views: 7,714.)

2. Boston.com retracts claim about racist email from professor (Dec. 11). In early December, Boston.com had a phenomenon on its hands: contentious, legalistic emails from Harvard Business School professor (and lawyer) Ben Edelman complaining to a Chinese restaurant about having been overcharged by $4. But then the Boston Globe Media-owned site overreached. Hilary Sargent, who had written the original story, cowrote a follow-up reporting that Edelman had sent one of the owners, Ran Duan, a racist email. It couldn’t be verified, and the story was pulled back. It got worse: It turned out that Sargent had also designed a T-shirt making fun of Edelman that she was selling online. Sargent, the site’s deputy editor (the top editing job was vacant), was suspended for a week. David Bernstein has a good overview of the whole affair at Boston magazine. (Page views: 2,827.)

3. Boston.com’s anonymous sports blogger to be unmasked (March 24). (Page views: 2,648.)

4. Meet the Obnoxious Boston Fan (March 25). I am startled that these two posts received the attention that they did. After the Globe’s exposé about the Remy family, an anonymous Boston.com blogger who writes as the Obnoxious Boston Fan posted a harsh commentary about Remy. It struck me as inappropriate that a Globe-affiliated site would allow anonymous attacks on anyone. Globe digital adviser David Skok told me that Mr. OBF would soon drop the anonymity — and in my follow-up post, I was able to identify him ahead of the official unveiling as Bill Speros. (Page views: 2,178.)

5. Big moves as Globe prepares to expand its business section (Nov. 13). (Page views: 1,870.)

6. Eagan leaves Herald, will write for Globe’s Catholic site (July 30). (Page views: 1,685.)

7. Globe executive announces digital moves (July 29). Probably the biggest ongoing local media story is Boston Globe owner John Henry’s various investments in growth — a new weekly political section (Capital), a Catholic website (Crux) and an expanded business section. These three posts documented a few of those developments. (Page views: 1,609.)

8. Jared Remy joins his dad in attacking Margery Eagan (April 25). The fourth Remy-related item in the top 10. Eagan, then with the Boston Herald, had the temerity to criticize Jerry Remy in her column. Jerry Remy went after her on the air — and Jared Remy joined in from his prison cell. (Page views: 1,495.)

9. Globe to offer buyouts to some staff members (Aug. 1). Not all the news from Globe headquarters in 2014 was about investment and expansion. Even as the news organization grew, it announced cuts in other areas. (Page views: 1,338.)

10. Boston Herald loses libel suit over false prison sex story (March 19). The plaintiff, Joanna Marinova, was awarded $563,000 over a story that falsely claimed she had engaged in “sexual acts” with an inmate during a 2009 trip to Bridgewater State Prison. Marinova and state Rep. Gloria Fox had visited the prison in order to investigate claims of inmate abuse. (Page views: 1,187.)

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The Globe’s John Henry disclosures are a work in progress

Previously published at WGBH News.

Q: Does The Boston Globe disclose that John Henry owns the paper whenever it reports on one of his other business interests? Or does it omit that information, leaving less-savvy readers in the dark?

A: Yes.

Tuesday was a case in point. On page one, the Globe’s Brian MacQuarrie reported that the Stop Handgun Violence billboard on Lansdowne Street facing the Massachusetts Turnpike may be coming down by next March. The new owner of the property — Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Red Sox — declined to comment, according to the story. Nowhere did we learn that Henry is Fenway’s lead investor.

On the front of the Metro section, though, Travis Andersen disclosed the connection in an update on an elevator accident at Fenway Park that left a woman seriously injured. Andersen wrote: “A spokeswoman for the Red Sox, whose principal owner, John Henry, also owns The Boston Globe, declined to comment Monday, citing the ongoing review.”

And so it goes — the most prominent recent example being the Globe’s reporting on Jared Remy, who has been charged with murdering his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel. Remy is the son of Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy, and the Globe has weighed in with some extremely tough stories on the entire family (original here; most recent follow-up here). Those articles, though, omitted the Henry connection, even as op-ed columnist Alex Beam included it when he wrote a piece arguing that Jerry Remy should be able to keep his job in the broadcast booth.

I asked Globe editor Brian McGrory whether he thought the Henry connection should have been made clear in the Remy coverage and the billboard story. “Our disclosure policy would apply to the stories that you mention,” McGrory replied by email, saying he would “renew our vigor in terms of letting readers know.”

I also asked Globe spokeswoman Ellen Clegg whether there was any specific policy she could cite. Her response, also by email:

Our policy is to disclose John Henry’s business interests when it’s relevant to the story.

By now, we assume the vast majority of Boston Globe readers are aware of Mr. Henry’s ownership of the Red Sox and therefore do not feel the need to disclose it in every story about the team.

There’s an additional factor in the case of Jerry Remy’s ongoing employment: he works for New England Sports Network, not the Red Sox. Eighty percent of NESN is owned by Fenway Sports Group, so Henry is essentially the top executive. When I asked Clegg if she thought most Globe readers were aware of that, she responded, “No, I don’t assume that most people know about NESN.”

Disclosure may be good for the soul, but when you think about some of the larger conflicts of interest that news organizations have to navigate, the Globe-Red Sox connection can seem trivial. To take just one example: Wouldn’t it have been nice to know that the media companies that own all of our network news divisions and cable news channels were lobbying the FCC for deregulatory goodies at the same time they were providing supine coverage of the run-up to the war in Iraq? So yes, the Globe should disclose, but some perspective is necessary as well.

Few would argue that the Globe should run a disclosure when it covers the Red Sox as a baseball team (although columnist Dan Shaughnessy did this morning, jokingly calling Henry the “greatest person ever”). The paper’s coverage of the boss’ other businesses has been tough and independent. We’re still in the early stages of Henry’s ownership of the Globe, and it’s going to take a while to get the disclosure thing right.

And it could be worse. After all, Amazon.com, founded by Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, does business with the CIA.

Jared Remy joins his dad in attacking Margery Eagan

So now both Jerry and Jared Remy have gone after Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan for daring to criticize the RemDawg for taking legal action to gain access to his granddaughter, left motherless by the allegedly homicidal actions of his son. And there was Jerry yucking it up with Don Orsillo during last night’s Red Sox game. (Herald story here; Eagan column here.)

How long is NESN prepared to let this on-air debacle continue? (Note: Eagan is a WGBH colleague.)

More reasons for Jerry Remy to disappear

Having trashed my WGBH colleague Margery Eagan for daring to write about his family, will Jerry Remy now go after Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo? Take the year off, Jerry. The Red Sox are entertainment — fun and games. At this point, you’re pretty much the opposite of that.

And here’s an excellent commentary by Marjorie Arons-Barron on “the ick factor” Remy now brings to Red Sox broadcasts.

Boston.com’s anonymous sports blogger to be unmasked

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 7.41.18 PMOn Sunday at 5:11 p.m., The Boston Globe’s free Boston.com site published a toughly worded blog post about Jerry Remy’s future with New England Sports Network.

Headlined “Case closed: Red Sox fans not obligated to pay for Jared Remy’s defense,” the writer argued that NESN had a public-relations problem on its hands following a Globe investigation into Jerry Remy’s son Jared, accused of murdering his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel. The writer also found it ironic that NESN would remove Jenny Dell from Red Sox coverage because of her relationship with third baseman Will Middlebrooks while Jerry Remy stays in the broadcast booth.

And, oh yes, there was this: the writer was anonymous, identified only as the Obnoxious Boston Fan.

I’d never seen an anonymous blog on Boston.com before. And though I agreed with some of the sentiments he expressed in his post about Remy, it struck me as journalistically and ethically inappropriate for the Globe to be giving a platform to any anonymous writers — let alone one who was casting aspersions on others.

In response to my inquiry, David Skok, the digital adviser to Globe editor Brian McGrory, told me by email that Mr. OBF will henceforth be writing under his name. Skok said:

We are in the midst of reviewing all of the content being posted on Boston.com and BostonGlobe.com as we continue to move forward with the relaunch and the separation of the two properties.

During this review process, we discovered that one of our community voice bloggers was posting anonymously on the site. We don’t believe that this adequately meets our journalistic principles and practices for all of our Boston Globe Media Partners properties. As a result, the blogger known as the, ‘Obnoxious Boston Sports Fan’ will be identifying himself in all future posts.

We are also excited to announce that we are bringing several of our best ‘community voices’ on as freelance writers who will go through the standard copy editing process required for all of our freelancers. We believe that these voices are valued contributors to Boston.com and we look forward to giving their work the exposure and amplification that it deserves.

As a result of these changes, we have notified all of our contributors that the community voices program will be ending at the end of the month. We want to thank all of our bloggers for their contributions through the years and we hope that they will continue to be a part of our digital community.

And yes, according to Skok, Mr. OBF made the cut.

Here, by the way, is Boston.com’s Community Voices page. Other than Mr. OBF, Skok did not say who will be staying and who will be leaving.

On Twitter earlier today, Mr. OBF claimed he has won “multiple APSE awards” (and perhaps he has) as well as “a staff Pulitzer.” I have asked Mr. OBF for a response to the news that he will now have to identify himself, and I’ll post it if I hear from him. Regardless, it sounds like we’ll know who he is soon enough.

Update: And here is Mr. OBF’s response (drum roll, please): “Looking forward to it.”

Update II: Originally I wrote that Skok had told me Mr. OBF’s anonymous status had simply fallen through the cracks. I’ve removed it because it was my characterization of what he said, and it seems too close to a direct quote.

Update III: In case you’re clicking to this post directly, I want to let you know about this.

Is Jerry Remy’s broadcasting career finally over?

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Instant update: I am gobsmacked that Remy is in the booth with Don Orsillo right now, Sunday at 1 p.m. That means the NESN announcement did not pertain to today and had nothing to do with the Globe story. Are NESN and the Red Sox really prepared to brazen this out? I guess we’ll find out a week from tomorrow.

It began on Friday with a seemingly trivial item in The Boston Globe’s sports section: Red Sox announcer Jerry Remy would be missing from New England Sports Network for the team’s last two spring-training games, but would be back for Opening Day on March 31.

On Saturday night, we learned the likely reason for Remy’s disappearance from the NESN broadcast booth — a massive, devastating report on Remy’s son Jared, slated for the front page of the Sunday Globe. Although the younger Remy’s notoriety was already well-established because of charges that he murdered his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel, last August, Globe reporter Eric Moskowitz cast the Jared Remy story in a new, horrifying light.

The Globe’s 8,000-word story is fascinating not only because of what’s in it, but because it’s the first time since John Henry bought the paper last fall that its journalism has intersected with Henry’s ownership stake in the Red Sox and NESN. Needless to say, it also has serious implications for Jerry Remy’s career.

Among other things, we learn from Moskowitz that court documents show Jared Remy “terrorized five different girlfriends starting when he was 17” (he’s now 35); that he’s been credibly accused of instigating and taking part in an assault on a high school classmate that left the victim seriously brain-damaged (he later committed suicide); and that he was a longtime abuser of steroids, alcohol and other drugs. (OK, that last part we already knew.)

Worst of all, we learn that Jared Remy was never held accountable — that he was repeatedly given probation and granted chance after chance to turn his life around. And the reason for that, according to Moskowitz’s reporting, was his high-priced legal help, paid for by his enabling parents, Jerry and Phoebe Remy. Moskowitz writes:

Often he benefited from victims who did not want to testify, whether from fear or forgiveness, leading prosecutors to drop the case. But even when cases seemed airtight, judges often rewarded Remy with a nearly free pass — temporary probation without the stain of a guilty finding. Most offenders are lucky to get two such reprieves. He got six.

And on more than 10 occasions while already serving probation or waiting for an earlier case to be resolved, Remy was arrested again on new charges or otherwise ran afoul of the law — a pattern of incorrigibility that would ordinarily get a person locked up.

Former prosecutor Joshua Friedman is quoted as saying Jared Remy benefited more from good lawyering than from having a celebrity father. “You get a high-priced attorney, you get better justice,” Friedman told Moskowitz. “If he had been Jared Smith from a well-off family, he may have gotten the same result.” But Moskowitz’s story leaves little room for doubt that Jerry and Phoebe Remy always erred on the side of leniency with their troubled son, possibly missing opportunities to break the cycle of violence long before Jennifer Martel was killed.

As Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham writes: “Remy wasn’t worthy of one chance, let alone the countless breaks his victims, parents, and judges gave him.”

So what is the likely fallout of Moskowitz’s reporting? Here are three quick thoughts, subject to revision as we find out more in the days ahead.

1. Jerry Remy’s career as a Red Sox broadcaster may have ended today. Remy disappeared from Red Sox games right after Jennifer Martel’s death last August. It wasn’t clear that he would return until January. At that time, Remy said all the right things. But that was hardly enough to inoculate him from stories like the Globe’s.

Remy is a Red Sox legend, both as a broadcaster and as a player before that. He has always been portrayed as a good guy. He’s also a sympathetic character, having overcome lung cancer, depression and other ills. But even though he is not responsible for his son’s actions, the Globe story makes it pretty obvious that his continued presence during Red Sox broadcasts will be an ongoing distraction. It’s time for Remy to go — and to hope that, with the passage of time, he might be able to find some other role.

2. The Globe has definitively staked out its independence from John Henry. Last August, shortly after Henry announced that he intended to purchase the Globe and its related properties from the New York Times Co. for $70 million, Globe editor Brian McGrory took his regular turn on “Boston Public Radio,” on WGBH Radio (89.7 FM). When the subject of how the Globe would cover the Red Sox came up, McGrory told hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, “John Henry would be out-of-his-mind nuts, and I don’t think he is, if he tried to affect our sports coverage. I get the concern. I understand it fully, [but] I’m not going to be asked to change our coverage.”

The Jared Remy story clearly isn’t a sports story, but I take McGrory’s remarks to be all-inclusive. And, yes, Moskowitz’s article did contain some embarrassing details for the Red Sox, which at one point employed him as a security guard — and let him drive the 2004 World Series trophy to an event in the Berkshires. Naturally, Remy got bagged for driving 92 mph on the Mass Pike.

3. But wait. Maybe the Globe is serving John Henry’s interests after all. See Point No. 1. You’d have to be a conspiracy theorist to think the Globe timed this in order to solve one of Henry’s problems just before the baseball season starts. Still, if NESN made a mistake in letting Remy come back, this gives station officials a chance for a do-over.

More: Several people, including John Carroll in the comments, have told me they think the Globe should disclose the John Henry connection every time it reports on the Red Sox or NESN (excluding baseball games) — and there was no such disclosure today. I’ll admit I’ve reached the point where I assume that only the most clueless don’t already know that. But still — it’s a good policy, and it only takes a line.

Photo (cc) by Eric F. Savage and published under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Best wishes to Jerry Remy

Media Nation extends its best wishes to NESN’s Jerry Remy, who has taken a leave of absence in order to recover from complications arising from surgery for lung cancer.