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Tom Brady, race, Russia and politics: Why the new media, cum social media #fails at covering stories objectively.

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Statue of Liberty smallFiftieth Reunion Report

I saw my second family and growing-up boy in Ukraine in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and shall be back for my 23rd visit in January, 2016.

In the 45th report I boasted of publishing Politicus #1,074, which would date the drafting to March, 2011. I have just published #1,341. Many were written primarily for The Duxbury Clipper, where I went to work in November, 2011. My current salary is 40% of what I was making at The Providence Journal 12 years ago.

I am grateful. While it is painful to no longer have a steady forum for my views of the wide world, writing for a town of 16,000 has been good for my journalism. In a small town one can’t forget one is writing about fellow human beings. Disagreement today mustn’t become personal lest it prevent working together tomorrow. Had I better understood this when I was slam-banging governors and statesmen I’d have been a better journalist and person.

I joke that I am like FBI agent Herbert J. Philbrick in the 1950’s t.v. thriller, “I Led Three Lives.” There is my renewed life in Duxbury, which began as a summer place before I was born. There are my loves in, and love for, Ukraine. There is my life in Jamaica Plain — the varyingly minority, varyingly poor and rich Boston neighborhood where I have lived cheek by jowl with the manipulated and forgotten for 42 years.

In the 45th Report I noted that in 1986 I exposed the fact that the late Boston City Councillor Albert O’Neill was a member — a lifelong supporter it turned out — of a Missouri-based white-supremacist group. My report was picked up by responsible media and played a possibly decisive role in O’Neill’s not being elected sheriff of Suffolk County, which includes Boston.

But that was a generation ago. On January 15, 2013, I published a detailed story about bus stops at two Boston hospitals 6,600 feet apart. If I may quote: “…[T]he stop at Faulkner Hospital has good lighting, a sturdy shelter, a manual stoplight and a handicapped way crossing Centre Street to the inbound shelter.

“…[T]he stop at Lemuel Shattuck [state] Hospital, which serves the relied-upon buses to Ashmont and Mattapan, has poor lighting and no curb cut. …[T]he only indication it is a bus stop at all is worn grass in summer and icy footprints in winter from dangerous efforts by the Shattuck’s workers and patients to navigate the granite curbs of the center strip in the middle of the highway.”

These findings were sent to (among others) the responsible state officials, the elected officials representing the two stops, and every member of The Boston Globe’s editorial board. When no one bit I published an update with color pictures on August 28, 2013. The initial release on Martin Luther King’s birthday was coincidental; the update, sent on the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington, was so intended.

More than two years later the Shattuck’s stop remains an impending fatal accident ignored. The home of the owner of both The Boston Globe and the Boston Red Sox is 11,088 feet away. This will not do.

The coverage Tom Brady’s allegedly deflated footballs was proof enough to me that, from race to Russia to politics, the new media, cum social media, are not capable of covering any story objectively and without self-promotion.

The Globe’s editorial pages were once more important to the exchange of ideas in Greater Boston than any of our great universities. These pages were recently decimated, their best writers sent packing. There is little to replace them. This will not do.

I occasionally bump into Fred Glimp, who signed our admission to Harvard in 1962. I tell him that I was his only mistake in 45 years at Harvard. But in addition to friends who came to Harvard with me from Noble & Greenough, three I met made Harvard worthwhile: Deszo Nicholas de Thold, ’64; our First Marshall, Barry Lawson Williams, ’66; and the sweet Sydney Lieberman, ’66, who died on May 12, 2015.

–David A. Mittell, Jr.

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Written by aboutblackboston

October 24, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Posted in Fresh Spots

Tagged with , ,

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