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2007 Media Awards (cont)

Posted: Thursday December 20, 2007 12:53PM; Updated: Sunday December 23, 2007 11:07PM
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Survivor Award

The media frenzy that has surrounded Barry Bonds for years has put Pedro Gomez on the sports map.
The media frenzy that has surrounded Barry Bonds for years has put Pedro Gomez on the sports map.
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PEDRO GOMEZ, ESPN: For years he has been ESPN's Dostoevsky, a man imprisoned by Barry Bonds and his quest for baseball immortality. Thankfully, Gomez has handled his hard time with the utmost objectivity and professionalism -- and unlike some of his ESPN baseball brethren, he isn't a first-ballot apologist for players linked to the steroids era. Now that Bonds has finally passed Hank Aaron, ESPN says Gomez will work as a national correspondent this season, meaning he can cover any assignment in baseball, including (wait for it, kids) the Bonds trial.

Honorable Mention: Erin Paul, CBC Sports reporter. Negotiating through the postgame mixed zone muck at Hangzhou-Dragon Stadium following the United States' loss to Brazil at the Women's World Cup, Paul's questions produced one of the profound sound bites of the year: Hope Solo's criticism of U.S. soccer coach Greg Ryan.

Best Non-Corporate Sports Web Site

PROFOOTBALLTALK.COM: With the same zeal for NFL rumors that Tony Romo has for starlets, PFT chronicles pro football with a Joyce Carol Oates prolificness. NFL fans love it, league executives read it and Slate recently called it the best source for pro football news. The site's must-read feature is its Daily Rumor Mill, a mix of snarky commentary, links to local coverage and breaking news (usually from unnamed league sources). PFT posts 12-20 new items per day (the site has four staffers), and with editor Mike Florio's background as a lawyer, PFT often gravitates toward analysis of player contracts and legal procedures.

The site has provided exhaustive coverage of Michael Vick's criminal troubles, as well as Emmitt Smith's on-air foibles. PFT.com gets between 500,000 and 600,000 unique visitors per month, according to Florio, who says he hears from NFL reporters 15-20 times per week.

"I can guarantee you that 100 percent of our rumor-based stories are topics that are being discussed by people who work in and around the league," Florio says. "We try to be edgy and irreverent without being gratuitous."

Runners-up: The Big Lead, Boston Sports Media Watch and Sports Journalists.com

Honorable Mention: Awful Announcing, Fang's Bites, Fire Joe Morgan, MinnPost.com, Dan Shanoff, Sports Media Watch and Sports Media Guide

Mainstream Sports Media Bloggers of the Year

NEIL BEST (Newsday), TOM HOFFARTH (L.A. Daily News) and MICHAEL DAVID SMITH (AOL Sports): More and more newspapers will eventually follow the path forged by Best and Hoffarth. Both combine seasoned reportage and entertaining reading in a topic readers care about (Who doesn't watch television or listen to the radio?). Smith is an evenhanded and smart read. Of course, each has cited this column at times, so caveat emptor, please.

Best Radio Voices

JEFF RICKARD and RYEN RUSSILLO (ESPN Radio): I praised Rickard in this space last year and he continues to provide thoughtful commentary, no matter the partner or guest ESPN Radio foists upon him. I've stumbled upon Russillo often this year and been struck by his reasoned approach and knowledge across sports. (A veteran of the Boston radio scene, Russillo also works as a studio analyst for the Celtics' television coverage on Comcast SportsNet.)

"A lot of hosts say they are journalists when they cover a story, but then say they are entertainers who are not held to any journalistic standards when they screw things up," says Russillo, 32. "When someone listens to me, I want them to understand that I care about being accurate and my opinions are based on a lot of research, phone calls and countless hours of watching games. ...There does have to be a balance between being knowledgeable and being enjoyable to listen to. Your personality has to be able to carry a show for four hours a day if you are going to be one of the big-time names in this business. People have to want to wake up and say, 'I wonder what Ryen Russillo thinks about this?' "

This year I found myself wanting to know what Russillo thought. He is currently unsigned with ESPN -- he commutes from the Boston area to Bristol and will be working on the weekends in 2008. A word of advice for the suits at ESPN Radio: Make this guy whole. He's good. And if you're listening, about Stephen A. Smith going national ...

Honorable Mention: Andrew Bogusch (Sirius), Jim Rome (Premiere Radio Networks), Mark Schlereth (ESPN Radio).

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