In the early Sixties, Newsday’s sports section was arguably the best in New York. This was when Jack Mann was the editor and George Vecsey, Steve Jacobson, and Bob Waters were some of his star writers. Stan Isaacs was there too. The next wave of talent included Joe Gergen and Joe Donnelly. Tony Kornheiser started there, and the great Bill Nack joined the sports department from the city desk. Later still, Tom Verducci came out of the Newsday sports department.
There is a new tradition at Newsday, which is only available on-line via subscription, as James Dolan puts his stamp on how things are run.
Newsday has a new policy for its sports page. The paper’s editors have told their writers there has to be a new, softer tone. They don’t want loaded words. They don’t want name-calling. They don’t want stories to be unnecessarily harsh.
In interviews with several staffers at the newspaper, the policy was explained to Newsday’s sports reporters and columnists around the beginning of the year. Here are the early results: Stories have been killed because they didn’t adhere to the new policy. One columnist left the paper in response. Reporters, both within the sports department and in the Newsday newsroom, are suspicious of the motives behind it. Depending on whom you talk to, the edict has either created a more informed and balanced paper, or it has left the faint air of censorship hanging inside the paper’s Melville headquarters. “Anyone reading our sports coverage this year will see that it has been tough and fair, thorough and award-winning,” emailed Newsday editor Debby Krenek in a written statement sent by a spokeswoman.
“It’s rank censorship,” said a current Newsday sports reporter. “You can’t tell journalists that there are things to avoid and call it anything but censorship.”
Jack Mann is rolling over in his grave.