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The value of a two-paper city, Part Whatever

There is a tremendous value to having two competing media outlets in a city. Living in Manchester, New Hampshire, every day I mourn a little that we have ONE statewide newspaper (which is also Manchester's local paper) and ONE statewide TV station (that is also our only network affiliate). I envy Boston, which has two major newspapers and at least five television stations that all compete to deliver the news.

That value was proven again today.

Yesterday, the Boston Globe ran a sob story about a push to "reform" the criminal background check process employers use to screen applicants. They rounded up a bunch of convicted felons who have had trouble finding honest work since their release from prison, and they all complain how much of a black mark their convictions leave.

One fellow in particular is Bobby Delello, who's attending classes to become a paralegal. Mr. Delello provided the "money quote" for the Globe's article:

"I can't get a home. I can't get a job. I know how to rob banks. I know how to hotwire armored cars. I did it. What do you think I should do?"

Well, the Globe's crosstown rival, the Boston Herald, decided to do what the Globe couldn't be bothered to do and look into Mr. Delello's background. This confessed bank robber was convicted in 1963 of felony murder when his accomplice gunned down a Boston police officer during a jewelry store robbery. He was given a sentence of "life and a day," but managed to get his sentence reduced in 2003 and has been free since.

Now, according to the Herald, the Globe had mentioned Delello's murder conviction as recently as 2004, but for some strange reason they failed to mention it in this most recent piece, when there is a movement to allow felons to seal portions of their criminal records from public scrutiny. It could be carelessness, but the Globe's record of such mistakes tend to line up quite nicely with their own political biases and agendas -- I don't recall any incidents when they erred on the other side of an issue.

And let's never forget that the Boston Globe is a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of the New York Times.

There's an old saying that "it takes two thieves to make an honest bargain." Likewise, it takes at least two newspapers to cover all the news.


Comments (12)

Jay;Therein lay th... (Below threshold)
Semanticleo:

Jay;

Therein lay the function of the blogger.

It is easier to fulminate, than it is to originate.

I agree that stories should be vetted better, but
does that change the salient point of the article?

You can take one case and say, no. Or you can
look at the big picture and ask, "is the criminal
justice system only about punishment, or is it
about reform?'

Nearly half of the national prison population is
filled with durg offenders who are either just
addicted users, or small time dealers who took
the fall. Do they deserve to re-enter the mainstream and recover some normalcy? Or should
they just return to what they know?

The Boston Globe's website ... (Below threshold)
Mark:

The Boston Globe's website has a story today that does, in fact, mention the conviction for murder:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2006/04/21/controversy_on_criminal_records_intensifies/

But regardless, I think that not being able to check someone's criminal history for a job is a rediculous proposition.

I have mixed feelings.... (Below threshold)
Starboard Attitude:

I have mixed feelings.

As an employer, I feel entitled to criminal records searches.

On the other hand, many types of crimes don 't bear on moral turpitude or trustworthyness. Furthermore, many are extremely stale and the records would hurt those perps who truly reformed. In these cases, the records will stigmatize an applicant, even when the offenses have no bearing on his or her ability to faithfully perform the desired job.

Maybe there should be a screening process similar to what the courts do when they decide to either admit or exlude evidence of past criminal conduct of witnesses or parties to civil law suits.

I'll give the example of a classmate who was busted for posession of coke when she was 18. She hasn't touched the stuff (or anything else) since, and she's now in her 40's. Is there a need to taint her employment application?

OK... Wait...If the ... (Below threshold)
Snurfle:

OK... Wait...
If the purpose of the prison system is "Rehabilitation", then I feel that nobody shoud be released until they are "rehabilitated", and then their record should be cleansed of the offense and the incarceration. Obviously, if a person is 'all better', then their past should have no bearing on their future.
However, if the purpose if the prison system is "Punishment", then a person's record should NEVER be cleansed, since the institution does nothing to make a person 'better', but rather is a place to pay for your evil deeds.
The fact that you must pass a background check in order to work for a company that supplies product to the government is a good indicator that the government believes in 'punishment' rather that 'rehabilitation'.
That being said, then why do we spend tax money on anything other than bread, water, and maybe vitamins?
Why are we giving them cablevision, computers, college courses, etc.
Shouldn't prison be a "bad place"?

I wish the government would make up its mind... If we want to rehabilitate, then if a person can't be rehabilitated, don't let them out!
If we want to punish, then make it a punishment!

But as long as the ACLU keeps stepping in and re-defining "cruel and unusual", then bad people will be set free while still a threat to society. And with no reason to fear the 'punishment' of living a life better than MINE, then there is no incentive to walk the straight and narrow.

Semanticleo,Your p... (Below threshold)

Semanticleo,

Your point is well made, but sincerely, considering (1) the very high rate of recidivism for drug-related crimes and worse, and (2) the ever-expanding exposure to liability for employers of people who are in theri employ, it would seem only fair that before I employ someone, I have a right to weigh the risk of how much trouble he may get me into.

As a private citizen, I had no control over what he did, who he did it to, how he did it, or how severely or leniently he was treated in the criminal justice system -- but now am I obligated to "do my part" by bearing the brunt of the assumption that since he's "paid his debt" to society, I have to be his Guarantor?

I can see both sides. Howe... (Below threshold)
scsiwuzzy:

I can see both sides. However, we already have statute of limitations on most crimes. Some, like murder, don't expire in most states (if not all). Using the same logic, I don't think the black mark on a record should expire either, for a crime like that.

Semanticleo: The s... (Below threshold)
Lurking Observer:

Semanticleo:

The solution would seem to be straightforward. Hire released drug offenders.

Since these people have a criminal record, it's unlikely they're sought after employees, so they're available relatively cheap. Based on your assumption, they are also presumably not especially untrustworthy, as employees.

By this logic, you should be able to staff your office at lower cost, and yet suffer little in the way of pilferage, embezzlement, accidents (in the case of a delivery service or heavy industrial manufacturing), yes? And, by the end, you'll have a lot of cases (aka data) to prove your point, rather than a plea from the heart.

Wavemaker;You too ... (Below threshold)
Semanticleo:

Wavemaker;

You too have a point. If you are a small business
it may be cost prohibitive for you to utilize
drug testing prior to and post-accident. But you
do have the advantage of being small. What I mean,
is that you are in a better position than large Co's
to make character judgements based upon close
contact and instinctive conclusions.

What I mean,is th... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

What I mean,
is that you are in a better position than large Co's
to make character judgements based upon close
contact and instinctive conclusions.

Er, thats a big "No" for small businesses, all it takes is one instance where you judge someone of a protected class as a poor fit for your workplace, and their lawyer friends will own you.

Two papers in Charleston We... (Below threshold)

Two papers in Charleston West Virginia. Still. :)

Jay Tea - this is exactly w... (Below threshold)
"Candy":

Jay Tea - this is exactly why I love (and live) the bear and chicken story - no politics!!

However, I should mention that I, too, come from a one-newspaper town, and it is very politically biased. Most of us just read the obits, hoping we aren't in them, and (as an Adult Ed teacher of some "possibly rehab'd youth") the police log, to see who will be missing class on Monday.

Working with some real hard-core youth over the past five years, I have determined that some of them did time and learned a hard lesson, and now live a clean life, while others think the world owes them a living and they will never take responsibility for their actions or lack thereof.

No matter how you slice it - you made your point Jay - there are two sides to every story, and the readers of any town deserve to hear both sides.

And speaking of the police log - I think I'm in it this week thanks to the bear!

What's worse?A one... (Below threshold)
EricR:

What's worse?

A one paper town where the paper is blinded by the left.

-OR-

A two paper town (like here in Seattle) where both papers are blinded by the left.




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