Two sexual assaults: One gets extensive coverage, the other doesn't

It was kind of striking yesterday: Around the same time, women in two separate neighborhoods were reporting being sexually attacked.

One of the attacks got played up extensively in the media, the other didn't. Naturally, it would be easy to assign bias to the fact that the news copters and vans raced to Wellesley to cover the attack by a bald black guy on a white teenager in her large suburban home, but couldn't seem to find Franklin Park on a map (with some exceptions).

It might just be a symptom of timing and shrunken newsrooms - the Wellesley attack went out on the police radio around 1:15 p.m. and the media was collectively on its way there when the Franklin Park call came in 15 minutes later, in an era when newsrooms just aren't as big as they used to be. Still, it's kind of amazing that the Boston Herald doesn't have a word about the Boston attack, and interesting that, this morning, Channel 5 is reporting on a neighborhood on edge in Wellesley. When can we expect a similar story from Jamaica Plain?

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Fox

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I happened to see Fox 25 last night at 10, and both got about the same amount of time (although the Wellesley story ran first, as I remember.)

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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I think it's pretty simple

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to dissect this one. The assault in the park sounds scary, especially the fact that he tried to choke her. But it's an assault in a park, by someone who was unarmed. Having a teenager (yes, in a "safe" suburb) attacked in her home with a gun is bigger news--it's more unusual, more surprising and frankly scarier, and I say that as someone who lives in JP and walks in Franklin Park every day. The park always feels incredibly safe to me, but we are in a city--we're more aware of these things. Wellesley, not so much--that's why it's news.

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Yeah, it is simple

An urban woman walking with a baby in an urban park is "asking for it" or, by daring to be female in public, "taking risks" in the collective suburban hivemind. Not news at all.

Both assaults are equally reprehensible, but one is far more sensational (albeit vastly more rare in the grand scheme of things). Simple, indeed.

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Nice how you brought in your

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Nice how you brought in your own agenda and read the idea of "asking for it" into the above poster's very rational, objective breakdown and comparison. It's not about "sensationalism" or any other media buzzword you want to throw around from your self-built, holier-than-thou soapbox--it's about the reality of the two situations. An assault in a safe suburb requires more investigation and explanation than an assault in a city park--not that the latter should or can be swept under the rug, but let's look at this comparatively rather than jumping to the conclusion of ZOMG YOU'RE ALL BAD, JUDGMENTAL MEANIES.

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Not all true.

Although I think being a victim in a surburban home invasion is more serious than a daytime assault in a city park, both investigations should require the same amount of resources.

That being said, home invasions might require a little more follow-up/crime scene processing.

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pot calling kettle black

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You should reread your comments about previous assaults in which you have blamed the victim. Try to be consistent or don't preach.

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SwirlyGrrl is so excited to

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SwirlyGrrl is so excited to make her own points that she basically ignores those of others! Pretty good!

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Oy

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It really sounds as if you didn't read my post at all and though I'm not sure you meant to do this, I don't appreciate you peppering your response with quotation marks as if I had said that the woman in FP was "asking for it." (in case I wasn't clear, I AM an "urban woman" who walks regularly in this particular park). I don't see any judgement or implication anywhere saying that this woman deserved to be assaulted, just that it's a more common type of assault--not dissimilar from the recent attacks in Somerville. There's a certain math to the coverage that these stories get--a teenaged drug dealer gets shot in Mattapan=not news. A "good kid" gets shot at Dudley en route to school, or a five people including a toddler are shot in Mattapan=news, at least to some. A doctor in Wellesley kills his wife at a local pond and turns out to have been a sex-crazed fiend=news. An armed home invasion is "newsier" than an assault in a park, even if the crime and the result were essentially the same.

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PS

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Adam may have better algorithms on this but I'd be willing to bet that if the woman hadn't been pushing a baby in a stroller, this story would have gotten less attention. Babies are worth a few extra points.

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Something's missing here...

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No groundless charge of racism. Or accusations of being a stooge of Faux News. Or worst of all, a reader of the Boston Herald!

But it's early yet, Swirly. And we all have faith in you.

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Am I actually defending Swirley? Say it ain't so!

I agree, the manner in which she wrote her post could definitely be read as an attack on what you said. And if that be the case, it would be quite an ill-informed and irrational attack.

However, I think SG was actually making a statement of agreement. Her derision was for a press process that defines an urban assault as not newsworthy, for reasons such as "she was asking for it," which play well in a media market where suburban consumers make a much larger share of the target demographic.

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Exactly

Thank you for actually reading what I wrote and for being literate enough to detect sarcasm and satire. It was not an attack on Sally or the victims, but an explanation of why the media freak out over one (ZOMG home invasion and yer white teen is NEXT) and ignore the other (doesn't every urban woman get raped monthly/annually???) - despite the suburban home invasion being an extreme rarity.

Meanwhile, there is actual everyday crime in the burbs that poses more daily risk to those living there than home invasions. Crime that goes unnoticed by the media - drug rings, drunk driving, car thefts/break ins and assaults in mall parking lots, etc. Same stuff as the city, but lost from sight.

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Well gosh...

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Glad there's at least ONE "literate" person here. Insert sarcasm icon.

I still think you're jumping the gun. Again--I don't see any judgement being offered here or elsewhere saying that one woman deserves to be assaulted more than another one. And your point re everyday suburban crime is a perfect case in point--if it happens all the time, it stops being newsworthy, whether it's city kids getting shot or suburban kids driving drunk. Until a toddler gets shot or someone plows a carful of kids into a tree, it's not news.

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"Hey hey! Calm down you two...

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...new Shimmer is a floor wax AND a dessert topping!"

I think Swirly agrees with you AND she then goes on to criticize the media reality you are pointing out. There's sort of an assumption here that you don't think it's right that we have become jaded and dulled to violence in the city perpetrated on people who don't look like target markets, and view threats to middle class suburbs as being newsworthy.

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Awww...ok!

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I think we're probably essentially on the same page.

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I agree that the assault in

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I agree that the assault in Wellsley is something that the news outlets saw as "scarier" but one has to ask why? It's because they presume that the mostly suburban market for their news will better be able to empathize with a white girl from the suburbs than a non white woman from the city

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Probably giving the media the benefit of the doubt here...

But I do think that it's much scarier to be attacked in your own home by someone carrying a weapon than it is to be attacked in a public park. I mean, both of them are really scary, and awful. But people have more of an expectation that their homes are secure, however untrue that may be.

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Just a few things from a

Just a few things from a hopefully unbiased observer, the incident in Wellesley involved an armed suspect that had fled into the surrounding area, which is far more dangerous than any suspect that does not have a firearm, therefore the police response was greater there, which then brought a bigger media response there.

And yes, things like this don't seem to happen very often in Wellesley, and historically are probably more likely to happen in Franklin Park, so obviously the quiet place that doesnt usually have this sort of crime is the bigger story.

On your "non white woman from the city," which seems to be the same thing a few people are suggesting as the reason for the lack of media coverage, the victim in Franklin Park was white. Before you try to play the race card you need to check your facts.

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I agree

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Though I just got an email from the folks at the Franklin Park Coalition--they are organizing a walk around the golf course on Thursday evening. Apparently though there hasn't been a similar assault in the park in ten years--which I find kind of amazing, but then again, FP generally does seem like a pretty safe place. I consider it one of the best kept secrets in Boston--beautiful, semi-wild, full of stunning vistas and peaceful walks. Some really fun organized events like the kite-flying day, but also just a wonderful place to meander, bike, and explore. Not a lot of people generally, but the feeling is always pretty friendly.

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Black man in Wellesley

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Call me skeptical but the phalanx of shotgun armed troopers with dogs and helicopters couldn't round up the usual suspects in this dragnet. I sure they even stopped the lawn jockeys in their search for the one black man in the town of Wellesley.

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Dee Brown

He's keeping his distance today. Not looking anything like the suspect didn't help him last time ...

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Black Guy in Wellesley

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Funny how with all the Dogs and shot guns drawn in Wellesley they couldn't pick up a scent or any signs that this young girls story was true. I hope in 2011 that this young women would not be so dumb as to make up a story like this to cover up something she did or did not do. From the way the Police sound it doesn't sound like they believe her story. There was a neighbor who was also on the news who said and I quote "that did not happen over here" that's not the usual "things like that don't happen over here" she was chuckling when she said it like she knows the kid. So this will be interesting.

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I noticed the same on Channel

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I noticed the same on Channel 7 last night. The headlining story was Wellesley and the cops went all out, as they should for a rape - sending out a huge contingent, drawing their weapons and a helicopter. The Franklin Park story received much less time and a lesser sense of urgency and outrage.

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Boston....

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You're right, the media giving more coverage to the Wellesley incident...but that wouldn't just happen in Boston...and has nothing to do with what color the victim was. If it was a black woman assaulted in her Weston home and a white woman in dorcester who was attacked in a park, which one do you think would get more coverage? Yup, the Weston attack.

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Hmpf

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I don't believe it about the attack in Wellesley - something about the report just doesn't jive. Sounds a little too cliched.

Charles Stuart anyone?

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It merits investigation

It doesn't happen often. But it could happen, and does happen (both home invasion rapes and people covering their arses by triggering fears)

We have to take people seriously when there is an alleged sexual assault involved. See also: Penn State.

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See also: Penn State?

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Seems to me the Swellesley PD et al took it seriously and gave it quite the investigation.

And if the alleged assault turns out to be a load of BS I hope the old white boy club doesn't sweep it under the carpet a la Penn State.

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The Globe covered the

The Globe covered the Franklin Park assualt just the way you'd expect them to. Nine just-the-facts sentences. What else is there to say? The guy ran off, and was long gone when the assault was reported. The Herald now has the same details.

The Wellesley incident? The nefarious Herald's racially biased coverage linked above consists of a total of eight sentences, in the same just-the-facts language as the Globe Franklin Park report.

So what was the real difference between the two, as far as the media goes? In Franklin Park, by the time the media found out about it, it was all over. In Wellesley, police were on the scene for four hours. Which gave television stations time to send out teams and 'visuals' to show.

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wellesley police....

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interrogated dee brown under hot lights all night to no avail.

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