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The value of a two-newspaper city

One of the great losses of the decline of newspapers is the end of many of the "two-newspaper cities," when there are rival papers that catch each others' mistakes. Competition breeds excellence, and any newspaper that lacks that is incredibly susceptible to laziness.

Luckily, Boston is still a two-newspaper town. The Boston Globe (owned by the New York Times) has its own take on the news, but fortunately for Bostonians the Boston Herald (a scrappy tabloid) delights in one-upping the Boring Broadsheet.

And it's when both papers cover the same story that the differences stand out in stark contrast.

Take, for example, the coverage of a shooting in Boston recently. Jason Collins, 30, is a wheelchair-bound Boston man who was recently shot by gang members. The Boston Globe's story is filled with the tragedy of the tale, of how he was shot twice before (one of which put him in that chair), his nicknames ("Wheels," for one), of his popularity among the neighborhood, his prowess at basketball before that first shooting crippled him, his support from the hip-hop community, and other glowing attributes.

It isn't until the very end that the Glob sneaks in a passing reference to his criminal record. He was "arrested in a crackdown on drug dealers in Orchard Park. He was among 16 people arrested who were believed to have been members of a gang known as the Orchard Park Trailblazers, according to a federal indictment."

All in all, it's the tragic tale of a young man who, after nearly losing his life and struggling against gang life, was once again struck down in a meaningless act of gang violence.

And then you pick up the Boston Herald. From the very first sentence, you learn far more about the story than you did from the entire article in the Globe.

An unknown triggerman gunned down a player in the brutal Roxbury street gang Orchard Park Trailblazers yesterday and shot two of the con's friends in an apparent home invasion seeking the wheelchair-bound victim's drug stash, sources told the Herald.

A very different picture of Mr. Collins emerges. He was shot and crippled at the age of 15, in 1989. Then, from his wheelchair, he went on to become a leader in the Orchard Park Trailblazers, the drug gang that terrorized the Orchard Park housing complex, until the feds broke up the gang and sent him to prison. Once he emerged, he went right back to his old ways, until someone came looking for his drugs and shot him and two cronies.

Thank you, Boston Globe, for this stellar portrait of this young man struggling to rebuild his life. Pity the story seems mostly fictional.


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Comments (6)

I consider the Globe's</... (Below threshold)

I consider the Globe's treatment of the story evidence of the capital dissonance that afflicts the liberal Old Media today. News such as the above must be reported; there’s simply no alternative. However, to report it candidly, without framing or slanting, would require the reporter to surrender some of his most cherished assumptions. Therefore, even in approaching the story at the outset, he must contrive not to see the most salient facts about it. That he’ll write it that way is a matter of course.

Would the Herald have done any better with the story if there'd been no opportunity to "one-up" the Globe?

As an editorial writer for ... (Below threshold)

As an editorial writer for the Charleston Daily Mail -- an afternoon newspaper -- I must say the state of West Virginia would be ill-served if the Gazette were the only game in town.
Not that I am biased ...

Just what is it that posses... (Below threshold)

Just what is it that possesses some people to glamorize gangbangers? There is nothing cool, hip or edgy about these quasi-human predators.

Are the reporters so enamored of "life on the edge", with people out to defy "The Man", that they ignore the brutality and anti-social psychosis most gangbangers demonstrate daily?

What the hell gives??!!??

Just what is it that pos... (Below threshold)

Just what is it that possesses some people to glamorize gangbangers?

I think it's because most reporters are liberals and liberals are enamored with power and thus are naturally attracted to those who aren't afraid to use it to get what they want. That's why lefties swoon over Joe Stalin, the old USSR, Mao, the Black Panthers, Mumia, Leonard Peltier, ad nauseum.

Oh please, not that old ste... (Below threshold)

Oh please, not that old stereotype again. Most reporters are neither liberal nor conservative-- they are corporate, trying to do a good story and get readers/viewers/listeners to pay attention so they can remain employed. Sometimes, stories do get framed incorrectly-- we are told to regard certain people as angels but later we find their real behaviour may not have been so wonderful after all(remember how we were all told about that lady who read the Purpose Driven Life to the convict and got him to turn himself in... and now we find she also gave him some of her stash of crystal meth...) In the heat of the moment sometimes, fact checking goes out the window in the rush to get the story first. That to me is a bigger problem than whether the media are liberal or conservative-- are they ACCURATE? I love a two newspaper town because it can provide some of that balance -- but it doesn't prove liberal or conservative bias at all. The Herald has been pro-Bush from day one, yet sometimes even they will slip in an anti-Bush opinion piece. And why not? And the Globe has some conservative columnists to go along with their liberal and moderate ones. And we're all the better for it.

I am a family member of Jas... (Below threshold)
Toni:

I am a family member of Jason Collins--and to your surprise the Boston Globe did run an accurate story. I called the Herald and told them to please change their story as my cousin struggles for his life. I told them the Trailblazers are no longer in existence! That he did in fact turn his life around after prison. He was on the verge of a record deal. Was shot once on the basketball court whe he was 15--he got into an argument with a guy over a girl and the guy shot him. Headlines in the paper read" Star Athlete Career put on sidelines"

The second time, coming home from school. Both he and a classmate were shot because our community was under war.

He was never the leader of the trailblazers. I should know because I lived there and now the Editor and founder of an international magazine.

It's a pity when the media perpetuates the violence that our communities are struggling to get out of. It's sad when the Herald says they'll only run a "brighter" version of the story if we send his photo--why would we send his photo when his life was almost taken? No one is focusing on the man who committed the crime--he's on the loose now--and they want a picture???

They declined when we told them "no"

This is a nightmare for him and the family. All of you should be ashamed. He is not a gangbanger--he was robbed and nearly killed!




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