By Daniel Paulling
Howard Beck spent weeks talking with his family and friends about whether to leave the New York Times for Bleacher Report. The decision go from one of the best newspapers in the country for a website associated with slideshows and unpaid reporters was challenging.
One thing stood out during this time.
“I kept waiting for someone to tell me, 'You are crazy. Don't leave the Times,'” Beck said. “No one ever said that. Everyone had a sense that it was a great situation no matter what. You're at the greatest newspaper on Earth, but this is a great opportunity. These are both great places to be.”
So Beck left his job covering the Knicks and the NBA for the Times to become the lead national NBA columnist for Bleacher Report. He'll be joined by Kevin Ding (formerly of the Orange County Register), Ethan Skolnick (Palm Beach Post) and Jared Zwerling (ESPN) at Bleacher Report.
“These four reporters are extremely well respected throughout the industry, and they bring a wealth of experience and perspective to our NBA coverage,” Bleacher Report Editor-in-Chief Joe Yanarella in a press release. “The addition of these journalists is a game changer for our coverage of the NBA as we deepen our commitment to enhancing our content offerings and continue to build our roster of talented contributors at Bleacher Report.”
News of their departures, especially Beck's, drew attention.
A Scout.com message board thread was titled “World ends. Bleacher Report hires a reporter from the NY Times,” and Sports Illustrated media writer Richard Deitsch had to say he was joking after saying on Twitter that several other prominent NBA reporters were joining those four.
One of Bleacher Report's hires, Ding, comes from a newspaper familiar with expansion. The Register added many reporters to its newsroom but lost Ding, who had been its Lakers beat writer for 14 years.
Register sports editor Todd Harmonson doesn't expect any changes to how his department approaches one of the biggest beats in the country. The only difference, he said, will be having a different writer and that Bleacher Report's expansion is a positive.
“I think anytime anybody brings in quality, talented people, it's an upgrade,” Harmonson said. “No matter what people perceive you to be, you could be the best or the worst, people are going to think you're getting better. Throughout the industry, if there are people creating jobs, that's the right thing.
“It's unfortunate we lost somebody in the process. Our new writer will bring some different things. That's OK. Change is a good thing.”
Change was what led to Beck's decision. He said moving would help him grow as a reporter. He'll still do between two and four columns a week, but he'll also appear on video.
Beck may also have a chance of doing TV and radio work. Bleacher Report is partnered with Turner Sports, which produces NBA coverage on TNT and jointly operates NBA TV with the NBA, and created a daily sports talk show on SiriusXM.
“I wasn't looking to leave the New York Times,” Beck said. “It was truly the most difficult decision for my career to decide to go. I feel great about the team we're starting with. It shows how serious they are about building up this site. The site, what it is today is not what the site is going to be one year, two years and five years from now.”
Other personnel moves across the nation:
Greensboro News & Record: Hired Mark Thompson, formerly of Martinsville Bulletin, as college reporter
Chicago Tribune: Lost University of Illinois/Chicago Bears writer Vaughn McClure, who is covering Falcons for ESPN
ESPN: Hired former Fox Sports Ohio reporter Pat McManamon as Browns beat writer
Indianapolis Star: Hired Zach Osterman as Indiana beat writer; he had been covering IU for 247Sports.com.
Michigan Live: Hired Brendan Quinn to cover Michigan basketball
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Moved Michael Rand from college editor to digital sports editor … hired Master Tesfatsion as Vikings digital reporter
Northeast Ohio Media Group: Hired Stephanie Kuzydym as preps reporter
Denver Post: Hired Joan Niesen to cover Broncos
Philadelphia Daily News: Hired former Centre Daily Times Penn State University basketball beat writer Aaron Carter as high school reporter
Connecticut Post: Hired former Westport News sports editor Doug Bonjour as sports writer
ESPN: Lost NBA writer Jared Zwerling to Bleacher Report
New York Times: Lost NBA writer Howard Beck to Bleacher Report … named Scott Cacciola as New York Knicks beat writer
NJ.com: Hired USA Today NFL editor Kevin Manahan as sports director
Casper Star-Tribune: Hired Lew Freedman as sports editor
Eugene Register Guard: Hired former Topeka Capital-Journal reporter Austin Meek as columnist/features writer
Seattle Times: Promoted Jayson Jenks from preps to Seahawks beat …moved Geoff Baker from Mariners to enterprise/investigative role
Tacoma News Tribune: Hired Christian Caple to cover Washington State … promoted Todd Dybas from Washington State to Seahawks … lost Seahawks beat writer Eric Williams, who is covering San Diego Chargers for ESPN
Knoxville News Sentinel: Hired Fox Sports Midwest writer Ben Frederickson to cover University of Tennessee men's basketball
Louisville Courier-Journal: Lost Louisville beat writer C.L. Brown, who is covering University of North Carolina basketball for ESPN …hired former Palm Beach Post preps reporter Jeff Greer to cover University of Louisville
NOLA Media Group: Lost Saints writer Mike Triplett, who is covering Saints for ESPN
Orlando Sentinel: Promoted Brendan Sonnone from preps to Florida State University beat … promoted Alicia Rose DelGallo from online team to preps
Palm Beach Post: Lost Miami Heat reporter Ethan Skolnick, who is Bleacher Report's new Heat beat writer
Tampa Bay Times: Promoted Greg Auman from University of South Florida beat to Buccaneers/NFL … promoted Joey Knight from preps to USF beat
San Antonio Express-News: Hired Jabari Young, formerly of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, to cover San Antonio Spurs
Arizona Daily Star: Promoted copy editor/designer Mickey Schmelzle to assistant sports editor … hired Jon Gold to cover Pac-12
Bay Area News Group: Lost columnist Monte Poole for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
ESPN: Hired former Arizona Cardinals team site writer Josh Weinfuss to cover Cardinals
Fresno Bee: Promoted Marek Warszawski to columnist
Los Angeles News Group: Hired Joey Berumen as lead sports designer …promoted Tim Dutton to copy desk chief
Orange County Register: Hired T.J. Simers as columnist … lost Lakers beat writer Kevin Ding to Bleacher Report … hired former Salt Lake Tribune Utah Jazz beat writer Bill Oram to cover Lakers
Salt Lake Tribune: Promoted Aaron Falk to Jazz beat … promoted Chris Kamrani to Real Salt Lake beat
San Francisco Chronicle: Moved deputy sports editor Gerry Spratt to news metro editor