Stephen Brunt Makes It Offical

Well now it’s official. Stephen Brunt has left the Globe and Mail. He is an employee of the Rogers empire. The Globe and Mail will basically simulcast one column of Brunt’s a week.

I was able to check in with Brunt earlier this evening and oh how he put things in perspective:

“It’s been an emotional day. I started at the Globe when I was 25 and haven’t really worked anywhere else. I wound up with basically the same job as some of my idols- Jim Coleman, Scott Young and Trent Frayne to name a few. I love newspapers and the Globe and Mail. However, in sports especially , there’s no doubt which way the wind is blowing. It’s already happened in the United States. Newspaper writers are moving to media companies who primarily focus on sports. I have had the great experiences working for Keith Pelly, and of course I love being with Bob (McCown), whom, I believe is the best at what he does in North America. Now, I get to be part of a startup, surrounded by young, talented people. I feel incredibly lucky to have this opportunity at this stage of my life and career.”

Here are my thoughts:

I think it’s funny to think about anything Rogers does as a startup. Perhaps that says more about me and the place I am in my life. Brunt’s worked at a big company, so maybe he won’t recognize that he is still working for one. Maybe at his level it just doesn’t matter.

There is little doubt in mind that the sports writer as we have known them to be are a dying breed. If senior writers like Brunt are jumping ship, what does that say about the future. I don’t think the demise is going to happen tomorrow. However I don’t think we will see a next generation of great newspaper sports writers in the Canadian market.

I, for one, think that the Sportsnet magazine is a horrible idea. I think they would do better as a sports daily. Rogers has certainly brought in an impressive list of talent. The question is, is there a market for it? I don’t think so.

Speaking of Sportsnet, the relaunch is almost upon us. I am told that Rogers will be dropped from the name, instead it will just be called Sportsnet. Also the logo will be modified with a red and blue underline under the SN part of Sportsnet. Look for this early next week, perhaps on the 3rd.

It’s funny, the one question I get more than anything from those in the MSM world in Toronto is what do I think will happen with TSN Radio. Again, file this under funny, but I think I am the only person who thinks that the mere existence of TSN radio is not only good for the little f fan but also for the F Fan. It seems to me that many a MSM out there, irrespective of their affiliation, are cheering against TSN radio. I don’t get it. I really don’t. Ok, they aren’t close to the Fan in the ratings. They do provide a listening alternative to the Fan. How is that a bad thing? They have hired people in the business, that can’t be bad can it? The Fan may not agree, but they have forced the Fan to up their game. Tim and Sid are coming and I think that has everything to do with TSN Radio.

TSN Radio isn’t an overnight success. They may never catch the Fan in ratings. I do however hope they do well enough that TSN sticks with it. Toronto may never get a second NHL franchise, but I do think we can support 2 all sports radio stations.


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September 27, 2011 12:17 am

Um…you can’t simulcast a written column.

September 27, 2011 1:20 am

I prefer TSN radio over the fan generally (I don’t listen in mornings), but the fan gets any late night listening as I’d much rather listen to a live person.

As for sportsnet magazine? Not a chance I ever pay a penny into that.

September 27, 2011 1:20 am

*should clarify, when I mean a live person I mean someone in Toronto talking about Toronto sports, rather then rebroadcasts, podcasts, or american broadcasts

September 27, 2011 2:27 am

These companies are making a lot of investments… my question is there much demand for paid content, in that Rogers et al are trying to take a larger chunk of the consumers wallet. Of course, the need for direct profit, substantial or otherwise, is sometimes reduced by the fact that the same content can often be used over multiple platforms.

September 27, 2011 2:29 am

Good point TSM a sports daily might have been a better way to go…maybe this is were it might end up…they cerainly have a impressive stable of writers..only time will tell, but I will check out thier new mag and wish them luck..

Sam In Scarb
Sam In Scarb
September 27, 2011 5:18 am

I do not own a puppy or a bird. So, there is no need to purchase the Robbers magazine.

Chris F.
Chris F.
September 27, 2011 5:29 am

TSM and Mario it’s interesting you guys advocate the idea of a sports daily because during the conversation Brunt and Bobcat mentioned The National which was a sports daily with high quality content that eventually failed. So it’s not a new idea in North America as it’s been tried before. I do like the idea of such a daily paper but it’s a very risky move when the world of print is dying quickly.

Either way, I’m interested to see how this goes.

Another Steve
Another Steve
September 27, 2011 5:39 am

I think a sports daily would be a horrible idea. It would be the same form of overnight repeated scores and garbage that you can get anywhere. My hope is that this magazine will have some stories that require 20-30 minutes to read.

I define success, of course, by what appeals to me, and I do still like reading long articles in things like the New Yorker, etc. There are others who prefer tits and fart jokes. So be it.

We’ll obviously see what form it takes, but I will be disappointed if it appeals to the down-market ADHD crowd. My faith in the human attention-span dwindles every year that I teach classes, and this year is no different, but I like to think that there may be some reason to keep reading journalism.

Again, we don’t know what it will look like yet, but I hope/suspect that I may be a market for it. And, just as it is with cult films and cult TV-shows – ones that don’t make much money but yet garner critical praise – I don’t care so much about whether anyone else likes it, as long as it is still there for me to enjoy.

Maybe Rogers wants to do something radical like put out a quality magazine. After all, the company controls the Canadian magazine market these days, and there might just be a market for something of quality.

One other point: I noticed that this magazine will also have web-based content, so let’s not assume that the people setting it up are total Luddites.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
September 27, 2011 8:08 am

It seems to me that many a MSM out there, irrespective of their affiliation, are cheering against TSN radio.

Are there many media types left who don’t already work for one or the other? At this point most of the relevant people are either exclusive to TSN or Rogers, or appear regularly on both. So, without any quotes from your unnamed sources, it’s hard to understand what you mean TSM.

September 27, 2011 8:19 am

Re: TSN and Fan competition

The existence of TSN Radio opens up the basic law of Economics. Competition is good for the market place and it benefits the consumers. Since TSN came aboard, talent raiding has been the order of the day as each empire tries to out do the other and put on the best possible day of sports programming on.

Hate to use a wrestling analogy here, but WWE’s best period was when Ted Turner’s well-funded WCW was its direct competition.

September 27, 2011 9:33 am

I grew up reading SI and today when I’m in a doctors or dentist’s office I’ll grab an SI or a MacLean’s but where else does one read a Canadian magazine? Most Cdn magazine subscriptions are tied to other services Rogers provides so I wonder how many individuals would actually reach into their wallets and buy a MacLean’s, Today’s Parent or this new sports mag at a variety store. I don’t think many. Of course, 590 will be pushing this hard (as in 24 hr info-mercials masquerading as sports shows) so I expect there will be an initial fascination with it but long term – I can’t see it doing well.

A year from now Brunt will be begging for his job back at the Globe.

September 27, 2011 9:35 am

If TSN is going to survive they had better get rid of Richards in the morning he is brutal and also they better get a better signal 1050 has been bad for decades.

Sam from Scarborough is funny.

Dropping the Robbers name? Uncle Ted will be rolling in his grave.

Don Mandrie
Don Mandrie
September 27, 2011 10:27 am

“The National” failed not because of content but rather in large part to their the inability to get final scores, updated standings, etc into print. That is no longer an issue.
We read the newspaper these days (at least I do) for opinions and analysis. Plus the local angle and yes, some of the ads.

When does Jeff Blair leave The Globe?

Chef Mike in Burlington
September 27, 2011 11:33 am

I LOVE that TSN radio is here, even though I only listen occasionally, Dan Patrick, Hayes and Allnight are very good. The Fan, other than PTS, bores me, they beat the Jays drum endlessly and their “homerism” espesially since they fired Mike Hogan, makes them unlistenable, especially Blair.

TSN gives me have a local option that doesn’t constantly jam coverage of a shitty baseball team down my throat 9 months a year. We’ve always had 550 down the dial, now we have 3 AM options in the GTA, and as a sports media consumer, choice wins.

September 27, 2011 11:49 am

In terms of “startup”…Brunt was probably referring to the magazine; not Rogers. Having listened to and having read his work, it is not in his raison d’etre to make that kind of reference.

For sure Toronto can support 2 sports radio stations. No question about it. The TEAM model that was used in 2001 had a major flaw in that it established a network of stations and tried to feed the love of the Leafs, Jays, Raptors and Argos to those markets rather than covering some of the local teams and teaching the Toronto market about those teams (NHL, OHL, CFL etc. as applicable in those smaller markets). Plus they spent a lot of money in a very short period of time. Notice that TSN radio has not followed in those footsteps. Like you mentioned, the listeners win out at the end of the day…the quality goes up. But the 2 networks should think of themselves as services – The Fan has baseball and basketball broadcasts; TSN radio is the place to be for all things football. So really…they do the same thing but they do have their properties that single themselves out. The one that wins the Leaf radio rights in a year’s time can boast that they are the home of the Leafs as 640 has done admirably.


September 27, 2011 11:54 am

I for one am interested in this magazine. I hope it’s a quality publication and does well. I really don’t understand all the whining about it. If it fails, so be it.

Like somebody else commented, a company is investing in a new sports media property, and people on a sports media website are whining about it. I don’t get it.

A daily newspaper? Huh? You guys are kidding right. You guys whine about nobody reads magazines, who reads newspapers?

Once again, Rogers can make this work even if nobody buys a copy.

September 27, 2011 1:07 pm

I agree with TSM the magazine wont last, two years tops. The model for a more substantive (in depth) reading is Grantland and as far as I can tell they cornered the market on the hipster pseudo-intellectual writers.

Once Nadir Mohammed realizes all these sporting ventures aren’t making him a dime, and he looks at what he’s paying the Brunt’s, Coxes, Granges and Blair’s of the world he’ll start cutting back looking for cheaper talent et la The Score and Yahoo Sports that drive millions of page views a day.

September 27, 2011 4:15 pm

I’m a lot more interested in this magazine knowing Brunt is going to be a part of it, I’ll say that. I will check it out. Might subscribe if it’s good writing … say, a Grantland kind of thing.

It makes you wonder who else Rogers has gone after/will go after. They must have looked at Bruce Arthur before he went to TSN. It’s hard not to wonder if Jeff Blair will fully make his way over.

If the magazine is successful, it does give Rogers a competitive advantage over TSN when it comes to hiring sports journalists. TSN can offer on air stuff, Sportsnet can offer you on air stuff and and work in a national sports mag. Interesting to see how it pans out.

As for TSN Radio – honestly, I don’t listen to it very often, but there is no doubt in my mind that it’s presence has improved The Fan a great deal. And for that, like TSM, I’m super glad it’s around. A lot of commenters here would disagree with me, but I think the station is leaps and bounds better than it was a year and half ago. It actually sounds like a major market sports radio station now.


[…] will re-brand from “Rogers Sportsnet” to simply “Sportsnet” according to Toronto Sports Media. Look for new logos and graphics on Sportsnet as […]

The Meatriarchy
September 28, 2011 8:30 am

Love TSN radio in the morning. Siegel, McGuire, Schulman. Dreger…. The Fan can’t beat it and Brady is unlistenable.

But as one of the commenters pointed out. The signal strength is atrocious. If I want to listen to TSN/Radio I pretty much have to do it via Internet.

Wake up TSN fix your signal or you’ll be done. Here’s a thought buy 640 am and turn it into a sports station. The signal isn’t great but is miles better than 1050

Don Mandrie
Don Mandrie
September 28, 2011 12:02 pm

The Meatriarchy: Too many of TSN Radio guests are TSN personalities. I get the concept of cross/promo. But I think they need to back off their regulars a bit and go looking for others, especially since their hosts don’t appear ready for Prime Time (sorry, couldn’t resist).


[…] Mirtle tweeted that Brunt will continue to write for the paper weekly (and we’ve heard similar murmurs elsewhere). Even if Brunt doesn’t abandon the Globe entirely, the daily will be hurting after […]

Kenneth H
Kenneth H
November 14, 2011 5:23 pm

All of these comments…so shortsighted when it comes to the magazine. Yes, print media is going the way of the dodo.

The bean counters at Rogers are not going to sink big money into a dying format, so what’s up with the magazine?

Obviously, they put the thing out with splashy entrance into the marketplace…establish some kind of readership…then voila! They take it out of print in year or two, and make it exclusively available for your tablet/e-reader a.k.a. online.

Sportsnet already has a website, so introducing a magazine as a branch of that website likely garners little interest. BUT, introduce a magazine, while at the same time announce you’ve just landed A-list talent to write for it? Now you’ve got a product that will draw eyeballs to it, and you’ve created something that can live outside of SN’s website.

Why do that?

Well, how much does it cost you to open up your browser and look at other than what you pay your ISP for the connection? Uh, that’d be $0.

But, an online magazine for your iPad? That won’t be free.

This entire thing is how big media companies are going to backdoor all of us into paying for online content. Sure, you can go on and get your real-time scores and highlights – but the kind of rich content a guy like Brunt has become popular creating? Roger’s is betting people will pay for that without even realizing they’re slowly being led into an internet age where there’s double and triple dipping.

i.e. the internet service provider who bills you is also the same company whom you pay for said internet’s content.

Introduce a print mag in a time when print is disappearing…then yoink! Pull it from shelves and offer it on your tablet for ‘x’ dollars?

Evil? Kinda…but also pretty stinkin’ brilliant if you ask me.

Dennis H,
Dennis H,
September 19, 2012 5:35 pm

Stephen, I watched Primetime Sports segment yesterday with Zahn and I agree with him about the culture that seems to prevail with the Blue Jays. When it was not narrowed down to where the blame could be placed and I was thinking that did Farrell not come to TO from the Red Sox? I seem to recall a bit of furor about Boston may want to approach Farrell with the managerial position when Francona was let go. Is it possible that the culture that prevailed in Boston has been imported into TO with Farrell?

Just a thought.

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