Brian Of The What?

Forgive us the brief side move into Ohio Print Media Watch for this entry.

So, your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) was losing sleep early this morning. Stomach tumbling around in the wee hours, we sought help to feel better…and reached for the Mighty Laptop, since we were up, anyway.

A quick run through the Internet led us to the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s sports news blog…headed up by an item tabbed to “Brian Windhorst’s Cavaliers Blog”. Huh?

This early morning surfing session was starting to mess with our fuzzy early morning head. What was the long-time Akron Beacon Journal Cleveland Cavaliers beat writer doing in the PD’s sports blog?

Had budget cuts at newspapers led to this conclusion – the two local papers sharing a single beat writer for the area’s NBA team?

(We hope you can forgive us for that, as Ohio’s newspapers have actually been running stories from each other on a regular basis for the past few months, complete with bylines, And then, there’s the running joke – at least we hope it’s a joke – that the tough newspaper times will end up with the shrinking Beacon Journal becoming a supplement to the also-shrinking Plain Dealer.)

No, we’d just missed one of the bigger stories in local newspapering, that’s all…understandable, since it’s not our usual beat.

As it turns out, Brian Windhorst started October 6th as the Plain Dealer’s Cavaliers beat writer. After much searching, we’ll give a hat tip to former Beacon Journal politics writer Abe Zaidan for the details on his own “Grumpy Abe” blog.

(Zaidan also notes the unrelated exit of ex-ABJ employee Stuart Warner from the PD, part of wide-reaching buyout offers to the paper’s employees.)

Windhorst, meanwhile, joins former ABJ colleague Terry Pluto on the Cleveland paper’s staff.

And despite the fact that newspapers are dumping staffers like so much discarded garbage, the Windhorst move is a very good one for the PD. It’s not quite the high-wattage move the Pluto hiring was, but is very close.

Ask anyone who knows about Northeast Ohio sports, and they’ll tell you Windhorst has set the standard for covering the Cavaliers in the LeBron James era.

Windhorst, who also wrote a book about LeBron and the Cavs (with ex-ABJ/new PD co-worker Pluto) and is a contributor to ESPN.com, ran rings around other reporters who covered the team, both nationally and locally.

Evidence of that came fairly recently, when Windhorst – still with the Beacon Journal – first broke the news that the Cavaliers had obtained Mo Williams from the Milwaukee Bucks.

Did we mention that Windhorst happened to phone in his scoop on the way home from the hospital, where he’d spent nearly two months recovering from a very serious illness? We’d be lucky if we had the mental and physical presence to even find our way back to our own home after such an ordeal.

Windhorst’s story of recovery is inspiring enough, but he has done more than just return to work from the hospital…he’s soaring.

Back at 44 East Exchange Street, it looks like Beacon Journal sportswriter and OMW reader George M. Thomas takes over the Cavaliers beat. Quoting Thomas’ first blog entry about the Cavaliers:

First, let’s deal with the two-ton elephant in this cyber room if you will. I ain’t Brian Windhorst. Although he and I possess the same physique, I’ve got about 13 years on him and I have a much better tan – much better. I’d like to say he’s a friend. He’s taught me a few things about hoops and the Cavs in particular, but he and I are different people. So, by all means, feel free to bash me in different ways.

We presume that since he’s jumping into the Cavaliers’ beat right before the thick of the season starts, George will probably not have a moment’s time to file “Airing It Out” items about local sports media.

Thank you, Mr. Thomas, for items we used as links… and best of luck to you filling some rather big shoes on that beat…

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