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Friday, July 21, 2006
Sign of the Apocalypse? Bill Belichick's Alleged Affair and The Boston Herald's Front Page

It might seem peculiar for someone who contributes to a sports law blog to question a major regional daily devoting nearly its entire front page to a sports and the law issue. But I ask that you to take a look at the front page of yesterday's Boston Herald:

Yes, Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been named as the dreaded "other man" in a messy New Jersey divorce case involving Sharon Shenocca, who worked as a receptionist for the Giants while Belichick was the team's defensive coordinator. According to Vincent Shenocca, his wife and Belichick have had a long-term extra-marital relationship, with Belichick buying her many gifts, including "expensive clothing, pocketbooks, watches, a treadmill and maid serviceā€ and he also allegedly flew her to be with him at Super Bowl XXXVIII, which the Patriots won. Vincent asserts that he has pleaded with Sharon to break-up with Bill (who separated from his wife Debbie last year), but she won't. So now Vincent wants to divorce Sharon, who might soon be spending more time with Bill.

I'm not sure that the late and great Aaron Spelling could have scripted a better story. And it's so interesting because it mixes a hugely successful sports figure with a soap opera scandal. I know I read the story--which was a Herald scoop--with great interest (I am a lifelong Patriots fan after-all).

But did this story warrant nearly the entire front page, especially at a time when there's a major crisis occurring in the Middle East with many people dying and, more locally, Boston is embroiled in the Big Dig Disaster? Even if the Boston Herald believes that its readers want to read this story, and even if the paper is a tabloid daily, did it have a journalistic duty to treat its editorial decisions with more gravity? And as you can see, the paper even used the top of the same front page to tell readers about Josh Beckett's contract extension!

So is the Herald's front page a sign that sports now attract too much attention? A critic might say no--readers want a break from all of the bad news going on (although a couple's divorce is also bad news, if not quite so terrible), and if they want to read about more depressing things, they can go buy a Boston Globe, turn on a TV, or go on the Internet. What do you think?


In a world in which there are so many sources of national and international news (e.g., network tv, cable and satellite tv, internet, etc.), a good argument can be made that the Boston papers are doing precisely what they should be doing to survive and prosper, that is, focusing on an area in which they have comparative advantage and which are not adequately served or served at all by those other sources: local news. Now you can quibble with the choice of the lead local news stories, but my guess is that the successful newspaper business model of the future will be to focus increasingly on local news and content to the exclusion of national and international content that readers can easily obtain elsewhere.

Anonymous Senator Blutarski -- 7/22/2006 12:56 AM  

Sometimes it is good to get away from real tragedies and smile at lifes human follies once in awhile.

Blogger chumly -- 7/22/2006 1:34 AM  

Well, guess he wasn't much of a -baller- after all.

Joking aside, I agree it's amazing what kind of real estate editors give these topics. Being in the PR world it never ceases to amaze me.

Cool blog. -hw

Blogger Heidi on Vashon -- 7/22/2006 3:47 AM  

This may be a sign of the news to come that we will be getting out of the sports world. As shown, the big signings and trades may start to become small print adjacent to the relationship scandals of players and coaches, and ya know there has to be some "good" ones out there.

The only news story like this, that I can remember, in the Detroit area was when there was a poll in the Free Press in which readers voted on the best looking Red Wings bachelor. The winner, New York-bound Brendan Shanahan.

Blogger WMUpsci_student -- 7/22/2006 6:58 PM  

Great Stuff! You should post some articles on it's Free, and you'll get dozens more readers!

Blogger Manny Stiles -- 7/23/2006 1:25 AM  


Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/23/2006 4:42 AM  

Nice one

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/23/2006 11:17 AM  

My perspective is that of a visitor to this country. During the last 5 years that I have studied and worked here, I have come to believe that while Americans have some great virtues, many Americans don't fully realize that there's a whole, wide world out there. The vision is too local. The following is a real life example, I kid you not:
My friend to receptionist - "I'm going to Tokyo for Spring Break!". Receptionist says, "Tokyo? Is that in Texas?".
I was also shocked to see, a few evenings ago, that while Israel has been ripping Beirut apart, my local TV news chose to focus on a story about firemen rescuing a cat on a tree - rather than taking the time to educate us about the issues elsewhere. International issues do have a local impact - instability in the middle east keeps gas prices high. Tell us that! I understand that it's called "local news" for a reason, but it still bewilders me. You can't decent international news on TV without a cable/satellite subscription. There's a world out there, people!

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/23/2006 6:39 PM  

The only English channel I get for the summer is the CNN International. I am made well aware of what's going on in the Middle East as well as the rather low US currency, but it is so true that you get pretty depressed by watching those news, especially when they play the same graphic stories over and over again. After a while, I only switch on for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and I actually think it has just the right amount of truth and humor. lol.

Anonymous Sokki -- 7/24/2006 7:44 AM  

I'm wondering how Belichick found the time. Isn't he supposed to sleep in his clothes at his office so he can review film and design plays every waking moment?

Blogger Bill -- 7/24/2006 9:19 AM  

At least he's not gay...not that there's anything wrong with that.

Blogger Corey -- 2/08/2007 2:32 PM  

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