John Pricci

HorseRaceInsider.com executive editor John Pricci has over three decades of experience as a thoroughbred racing public handicapper and was an award-winning journalist while at New York Newsday for 18 years.

John has covered 14 Kentucky Derbies and Preaknesses, all but three Breeders' Cups since its inception in 1984, and has seen all but two Belmont Stakes live since 1969.

Currently John is a contributing racing writer to MSNBC.com, an analyst on the Capital Off-Track Betting television network, and co-hosts numerous handicapping seminars. He resides in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Most recent entries

Monthly Archives

Syndicate



Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Newsday Beaten on Award-Winning Breaking-News Story


Prior to the timelines established below, HorseRaceInsider staffer Mark Berner was working for months on a story that came to fruition in early December 2017: The New York Islanders would be playing its home games in a new arena built on the grounds of Belmont Park.

Berner knew the Islanders could go to the bank, according to several sources, “when the dog and pony show is announced by Empire State Development.” ESD announced on Dec 3 that a listening session would be held on Dec 10, in Elmont.

Newsday was still chasing the story on December 4. https://www.newsday.com/long-island/politics/public-meeting-sunday-on-belmont-park-plans-1.15311800 “The potential to build at Belmont is incredible and the community’s input in this process is vital,” said state Senator Todd Kaminsky. “…We are hosting a listening session so that all bidders can engage with the community and clarify any points,” etc.

Berner, using sources who requested anonymity, had already written his story for HRI for posting on Dec 5: “Belmont Park and Islanders Break New Ground.” http://www.horseraceinsider.com/Inside-New-York/comments/12052017-belmont-park-tradition-breaking-new-ground/

“Empire State Development, New York State’s business development agency, has moved quickly and is ever closer to a decision that will award the bid of the New York Islanders hockey team and its consortium to build a new arena at Belmont Park.

“The Islanders hope to break ground next spring. ‘We have no comment as of now,’ said Kimber Auerbach, Executive Director of Communications of the Islanders.”

Newsday failed to corroborate the HRI story at that time but a sports website, “Fansided,” picked it up but categorized it as a rumor on December 6. https://eyesonisles.com/2017/12/06/new-york-islanders-rumors-say-favored-bidder-belmont/

Wrote Michael Anderson of the Fansided sports blog: “…According to a report from Mark Berner of Horse Race Insider, The New York Islanders might not need to worry about a plan B. Because plan A is rumored to go through.”

Then this: “Empire State Development, New York State’s business development agency, has moved quickly and is ever closer to a decision that will award the bid of the New York Islanders hockey team and its consortium to build a new arena at Belmont Park.

“…I reached out to AKRF to comment on their collaboration with Belmont in relation to the track as well as the RFP winner and they were unable to provide a comment at the time on the matter.

“We were contacted by someone who works at the tracks who corroborated Berner’s claim and indicating that this rumor is in fact true.”

Finally, Newsday was ready to confirm that the “rumors” were true. On December 19, 2017 at 6:05 PM, it published an update to a December 18 story. It read:

“The Islanders are coming home. https://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/islanders/islanders-new-arena-belmont-park-1.15519161

“The hockey team was informed Tuesday that its proposal to build a new arena at Belmont Park in Elmont was selected as the winning bid, according to people familiar with the situation.

“A news conference is scheduled for Wednesday morning at the racetrack in which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to be on hand.”

Between Berner’s December 5 story until Newsday dropped its award-winning scoop, other sources acknowledged that HRI broke the story.

A Dec. 7 podcast hosted by hockey experts discussed some of the finer details revealed by Berner. https://soundcloud.com/user-331709135/the-puck-doesnt-stop-here

This was after Cable-TV’s News-12 Long Island referenced the HRI story in the aftermath of the breaking Islanders news. Metro.us also referenced the Berner story on Dec. 6, https://www.metro.us/sports/new-york/nhl-rumors-islanders-belmont-deal-verge-completion

This would not even be a “thing” if Newsday sports editor Hank Winnicki wasn’t so cheeky about winning an award for the story, one of several earned by the paper’s talented sports department in 2017:

“The competition is so tough and it’s a great honor to win these prestigious awards. I’m particularly proud that we won three top-10 awards in breaking news. That’s an amazing feat. The awards also show the great work we’re doing across platforms.”

Later, in a Newsday story announcing their awards, it was stated that “Jim Baumbach and Robert Brodsky won in the breaking news category for first reporting that the Islanders’ proposal to build a new arena at Belmont Park in Elmont was selected as the winning bid by Empire State Development.

Some acknowledgment would have been nice, especially for a couple of former Newsday staffers wrote an expose on workouts at New York tracks when competing racing publications were battling for market share. UPI sports editors recognized “Sorry, Wrong Numbers.”

Two questions: Would Newsday, Fansided, or any news gathering agency, be eager to burn any of their deep background sources? And why is it companies demand loyalty but when that debt is turned around, not so much?

Written by John Pricci

Comments (4)

 
 

Page 1 of 1 pages