Monday, March 17, 2008

The news that's printed to fit

It's a rough time for the newspaper business -- perhaps the biggest reason I decided to turn toward public relations as a career. Seemingly, not a day goes by without a report of some huge paper offering buyouts or simply wielding an axe through the editorial department. The Washington Post and Newsday are among the latest casualties.

A recent report I read stated that from 2004-07, every paper in the U.S. Top 20 recorded losses in circulation -- some as high as 20 percent. My old paper, the New York Post, lost less than three percent, the lowest drop of the bunch.

In our area, the Boston Globe and Boston Herald are both hurting; the Globe has had to slog down the buyout/layoff route, and the Herald's circulation has actually dipped below that of the Boston Metro, a free newspaper.

One of the biggest reasons has been the propensity for people to get their news online, which amounts to papers giving their wares away for free, which means less readers smeared in newsprint, which means less advertisers making money, which means lower revenues for the papers.

For years, the folks that ran newsrooms failed to see the storm coming. Many were stuck in the conventional wisdom of decades ago that "commuters will always want something in their hands," which is why "there will always be newspapers." Commuters have plenty in their hands, all right -- cellphones, laptops, PDAs -- all capable of providing what papers had, minus the newsprint.

That's to say nothing of those plugged into their iPods, who aren't getting news at all. Indeed, that's a harbinger that the skies will only get darker for the newspaper biz. At least then, folks could use their papers as umbrellas when the next storm hits.


You probably don't need me to tell you how devoted Boston sports fans are. I know about passionate, knowledgeable sports fans in New York. But up here, it's a little different.

Whenever I meet someone from New England, they always ask me where I'm from (since I don't pahk the cah). When I tell them "New Jersey," they'll say, "You're not a Yankee fan, are you?" As a Mets fan, I'm readily accepted, Bill Buckner notwithstanding.

In the NY/NJ metro area, it's a lot more tempered. Half the people in New York hate the Yankees because they're Mets fans. There's also the Giants and Jets, the Knicks and Nets, the Rangers, Islanders and Devils. Up here, everybody's a Pats fan. Everybody's a Sox fan, Celtics fan and Bruins fan. Hell, one time when I went to the Christmas Tree Shoppe, I heard people talking in line about how the Sox "have to win today." And that was a regular-season game against the Orioles!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Act I, Scene I

Welcome one and all. Thanks so much for being a part of my blog as I jump headfirst into the social media pool.

There are many thoughts jostling for attention inside my head. My wife, Karen, is in the other room, saying, "What are you going to write about?" Hmm. Good question. "Why don't you write about the dog?" Guess I just did.

Well, how's this for starters...

I've had a long and interesting career as a sportswriter. I worked for three different newspapers, most recently the New York Post. Yes, I've written some of the goofy headlines the Post is known for, though I can't take credit for my favorite Post headline ever: "HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR." That front page actually hangs in the Post reception area. No, I don't agree with the Post's politics. Leaning significantly to the left, I always joked that I worked on the only "red" block in New York City -- OK, one of two; there's the Wall Street Journal, too.

I worked for eight years at the Newark Star-Ledger, both on the inside and outside. I covered the Knicks for three years, which was an amazing experience. My first season was 1993-94, the year they went to the Finals and lost to Houston.

Before that, I worked for nine-plus years at the Daily Record in Morristown, New Jersey, during which time I covered the NHL -- I got the Rangers beat as a part-timer when I was only 19 -- and basically grew up professionally.

In between the Ledger and the Post, I was a media relations/editorial manager with the NBA in New York. In a quest to try to find a job with "normal" hours, I took that position, commuted four hours a day door-to-door, and for the first year-and-a-half, it was the best job of my life. I co-authored a book on the Lakers' 2000 NBA championship, one of the highlights riding in the team's victory parade on a double-decker bus with Magic Johnson and the Laker Girls. One of my greatest regrets is that I don't have any photos to confirm that, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

I was part of a team that wrote and published material on, as well as an edition of the NBA Encyclopedia, and feature articles in the NBA Finals and All-Star programs.

But the function of our staff changed; we went from 12 people in our department down to four. The man who hired me, Jan Hubbard - one of the best bosses I ever had - was let go. And eventually, I was too. Thus the move back to newspapers and the Post.

But there has been another change, which has landed my wife and I in Plymouth, Mass. - home of the Rock. After a lifetime growing up in New Jersey (isn't everyone from Jersey originally?) we decided we wanted a change in scenery, and we didn't like what was happening in our home state. It had gotten very crowded, very quickly, and a lot less green.

We both love New England, and especially Boston, which was always one of my favorite stops when I traveled around the country covering sports. So once again, I'm putting the newspaper life behind me, and I'm now an independent public relations consultant with the quest of landing a full-time public relations position in Boston. I joined some great organizations, including the New England Publicity Club, the Public Relations society of America and the Boston Social Media Club, and have been networking feverishly in an attempt to get my face in front of as many people as possible.

And now, in an attempt to get in even more faces, I'm now officially blogging. And when I'm not writing about my dog, I'll write about my career goals in public relations, my passions for sports and history, and whatever else is fighting for attention in my cranium at the moment.

And maybe I'll even tell you about the time I saw Yogi Berra naked. But that's another story for another time.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned.