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Thursday, October 21, 2004
UNBELIEVABLE! What an
amazing, stunning, wonderful week this has been. I watched bits and
pieces of the Red Sox' "Impossible Dream" season in 1967. I
distinctly remember Game Six of the 1975 World Series, perhaps the
greatest baseball game ever, and Game Six of the '86 Series,
certainly the all-time worst on a long list for Sox fans. And, of
course, there was last year's Game Seven, number-two on the
I have nothing to say beyond that,
other than what hundreds and thousands of others are saying. I just
thought you'd enjoy the back page of today's New York Post,
along with this
piece on New York's newest
villain: Alex Rodriguez, the Greatest Shortstop of All Time, the guy
who almost came to Boston and who is now a distinctly mediocre third
baseman for the Yankees.
Not to mention a poor sport and a
JOE FITZ, MEDIA CRITIC. If
you're like most people, you may be surprised to learn that Joe
writes a column (free this
week) for the Boston Herald. The former sportswriter's sleepy
compendium of religious pieties and gay-bashing isn't exactly a
Yesterday, Fitzgerald turned his
keenly honed moral eye to the Boston Globe, which, he claimed,
had done something truly repellant: this past Tuesday the
Globe mentioned in a front-page subhead the fact that Joe Nee,
a just-arrested 18-year-old suspect in the Marshfield "Natural Born
Killers" case, is the son of Boston Police Patrolmen's Association
president Tom Nee.
"What did this father's job have to
do with his kid's alleged offense? How were the two in any way
connected, let alone worthy of such attention?," asked the shocked,
shocked Joe Fitz in a column headlined "Globe's Headline Hit Way
Below the Belt."
Now, let me back up for a moment.
I've been troubled by the way both dailies (not to mention other
media outlets) have handled this story. The Globe actually led
the paper with it on October 7, the day after authorities revealed
they had arrested Tobin Kerns, 16, on charges that he had planned to
kill eight teachers and students at Marshfield High School in a plot
reminiscent of the Columbine killings.
Granted, you never know until
something horrible actually happens, but it struck me then - and
still does - that the Globe and the Herald have both
overplayed the story, given the high likelihood that Kerns is guilty
of little more than having an unusually disturbing fantasy life. The
primary fault lies with law-enforcement officials, who should have
quietly insisted on this kid getting help rather than turning him
into a poster boy for school violence. Still, the papers shouldn't
have played along.
Okay, now, back to the scene of the
crime, as it were. It turns out that the first newspaper to mention
Joe Nee's name in connection with this case was - yes! - the
Herald. Way back on October 7, the Herald
Benjamin Kerns [the
suspect's father] and other sources said one of the other
members of Kern's group is Joe Nee, the son of Boston police
union President Thomas Nee. Numerous attempts to contact
Thomas Nee were unsuccessful.
However, a source said Nee was
one of a group of kids "hanging around saying, 'Wouldn't it be
cool to blow up the high school?'"
But "once they realized
[Kerns] was serious, they went to authorities."
Here is what the Globe
reported the same day:
said that ... his son had associated with three male friends from
school and that the group may have discussed plans for a violent
act, but he didn't think the youths would have carried out the
plan. And he said one of the other three youths was the
ringleader, not his son....
Kerns identified the teenager
who he said was the mastermind, but the Globe is withholding that
identity because the youth has not been charged. That youth's
father declined to comment last night.
Uh, Professor Fitzgerald, who do
you think was leading the journalistic ethics battle at that
In his column yesterday, Fitzgerald
hangs his hat on the fact that the Globe stuck Joe Nee's
father in its headline, whereas the Herald merely gave it a
"mention" in its story. (Actually, three mentions, including a
with this lead: "The teen son of the Boston police union head showed
a handgun to a classmate near Marshfield High School and showed
another a hit list of people 'they were going to kill,' prosecutors
I'm sure Fitzgerald knows all this,
which is why he was clever enough to restrict his criticism to the
Globe's headline. For good measure, he also threw in a few of
the Herald's past journalistic sins, just to make sure
everyone knew that of course he wasn't singling out the
Globe. But his selective presentation of the facts was,
needless to say, fundamentally dishonest.
As this story moves forward, I hope
both papers, as well as other news orgs, stop salivating over
handouts from prosecutors and start showing proper skepticism about
But Joe Fitz's take on the
Globe's subhead is ludicrous. He might have a point if Joe
Nee's arrest had gotten more attention than it should have simply
because Nee has a well-known father. But that's obviously not the
case given how much coverage this story has been getting all
The real concern is that the
media's overheated coverage could end up damaging the lives and
prospects of at least two troubled young men. In that context, the
headline about Tom Nee was irrelevant.
READ THIS. Former
Phoenix news editor Susan
Ryan-Vollmar has started a
blog "about motherhood, politics, and gay marriage." Last night she
dispiriting item about a
meeting she attended on Boston's school-assignment plans. Her
conclusion: "When I came home from the meeting, I gave Mrs. SRV a
summary and, just one year after buying our house in Boston, we had
our first serious discussion about moving out of the
NEW IN THIS WEEK'S
PHOENIX. Dick Cheney's reputation is that of
evil genius." His record at
Halliburton, though, reveals him to be nothing more than a corrupt,
posted at 9:13 AM |
I wonder how Joe Fitzgerald feels about the hideous front page picture of the dying college student, and the even more horrible picture inside today's Herald of her bleeding to death. That paper has no shame. Please God, make us a one paper town.
I have to disagree with the previous comment--we're one of the last two-dailies towns left. Go, yellow journalism!
Also, thanks for the referral to SRV, Dan. And how does Mrs. Media Log feel about being Mrs. Media Log?
--Secret Agent "Don't Call Me Wife" Cathy
See my next comment.
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MEDIA LOG ARCHIVES
Dan Kennedy is senior writer and media critic for the Boston Phoenix.