About Us

James Burns

James has been a sports reporter in the Central Valley for more than 20 years. Before launching “Front Row Sports,” James rose to regional sports editor at three daily newspapers: The Manteca Bulletin, Merced Sun-Star and the Modesto Bee. He is an award-winning journalist, honored by the California News Publishers Association for his writing and ability to build a comprehensive and creative high school football preview section. His passion for youth sports, community and storytelling gave birth to “Front Row Sports,” a site designed to connect with the communities it covers. 

James has a wife, Jill; two children, Karlie (12) and Jimmy (9); and two dogs, Buster and Lady. When he’s not covering a game, chasing a lead or capturing the region’s best stories with word, video and picture, James spends his time coaching club and high school soccer, competing in endurance events, and adventuring with his family. He is a passionate sports fan who roots for the San Francisco Giants, Oakland A’s, San Francisco 49ers, Manchester United and Bayern Munich. He was a Golden State Warriors fan before the titles, back when "We Believe" was a desparate cry from the rafters. James is also Team Lionel Messi, LeBron James and Tiger Woods.

Joe Cortez

Joe spent the past 32 years working for central California newspapers, covering high school sports in the Merced and Modesto regions. He covered the 1990 undefeated Merced High football team that was named state champions by Cal-Hi Sports, and also covered three of the four Central Catholic state championship teams, from 2013-2015. He's interviewed the likes of Olympic marathoner Frank Shorter, NFL referee Jim Tunney and heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield … and just about everybody else in between. He was born in Dos Palos, Calif., grew up in Merced and started his journalism career in 1986, the year after he graduated high school. He's married to Patty, and has three children, twins Emily and Hannah (26) and son Nicholas (10). His hobbies include genealogy and working out.