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Fill-in-the-blank scaremongering at local collection of news sites

You may have heard how police in Baltimore announced a "credible threat" by gangs to attack officers. Seems they put a bulletin to that effect up on a network used by police departments across the country. Patch, the former AOL hyperlocal network, immediately posted stories on its sites across eastern Massachusetts with headlines blaring:

'Credible threat' warning issued that gangs might target [name of town] police

For example,

'Credible threat' warning issued that gangs might target Medford police

and

'Credible threat' warning issued that gangs might target Somerville police

The three or four anxious Medford or Somerville residents who saw the headline would, one presumes, immediately click on the story - and then read an account of violence in Baltimore that didn't once mention their city, because Patch used the fill-in-the-blank headline for a single story they just ran everywhere.

On the Facebook page for Melrose Patch, an editor felt compelled to add this to the top of the scare headline:

Don't get us wrong, the keyword here is definitely "might."

Still, they've since changed the headline to something more generic, no doubt a relief to Melrose residents worried about being beaten by gang members from several hundred miles away.

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Comments

according to unconfirmed reports.

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Patch was a lot better under original AOL ownership. It was vibrant, folks commenting left and right on news articles, a friendly place.

Patch today, no longer under AOL? Forget it. Hardly anything local on the sites and comments are literally non-existant now.

Sad.

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RIP

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it was also losing barrels of money. For us it was better, for them it was an albatross.

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We all know that none of these stories posted by Adam are actually real, they're just auto-generated by an updated version of ELIZA.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ELIZA

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.

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The three or four anxious Medford or Somerville residents who saw the headline

Shots fired, repeat, shots fired.

Sorry, did that just make me a credible threat too?

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Waiting for you to contact them for rioting fun!

Kind of reminded me of those odd adds that end up being served to people with fairly blank search histories.

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Odd add.

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Why Boston Isn’t Baltimore—And Why It Could Be
boston.com writer Allison Manning has produced a story with actual journalism components. She doesn't use the phrase "credible threat" at all. Maybe the site's recent change of management is actually having a beneficial effect.

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She does not once mention how Boston could use this to enhance the Olympic bid.

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Should the Facebook post say "key word"? Isn't a keyword something you use to get more hits on Google?

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Monkeys might fly out of every dog's butt in Revere.

Don't get me wrong, the keyword here is definitely "journalistic integrity."

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