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Boston media tries covering Potgate; gets munchies instead

Click on through for a rockem-sockem loosey-goosey summary of the media coverage of this story, which was varied to say the least. Will the grand but lightweight Globe take the short-but-sweet prize for best writeup? Or will the rough, battle-hardened Herald take the Globe to the cleaners? What about the litter transit pulp papers? How do the Kings of Swooshing Animations and Lead-Ins fare?

First up, at 194 words: Maria Cramer, from The Globe:

  • ...decides it's not important to name the other suspects (including some fascinating info about one of the perps) or the fact that they're out on the street again, but does name the judge
  • ...remembers Gaston was a hero back in 2002 (Gaston saved a bunch of folks and caught a fair bit of press)
  • ...prints "Attorneys for all three men said that only a small amount of marijuana was found on them", without comment or mentioning the actual evidence that was collected (see below)
  • ...forgets that these days we put these things called images on web pages, and that images come from things called cameras, operated by people who show up to cover news stories, commonly referred to as "photographers." Well, except for the really important stories...
  • ...skimps on the details of the bail-yanking prior charges
  • ...doesn't include an email address

The Herald's Jessica Fargen comes into the ring at a full 331 words:

  • ...names the other two suspects, their ages, and home towns. Forgets to name the judge (oops)
  • ...mentions that one of the suspects has a pending case for possession w/intent to distribute in a school zone
  • ...and that both were released(!) with (I think) no bail(!?)
  • ...has heard of putting photographs on webpages, and thus has Gaston's booking photo
  • ...reveals Gaston's going on trial for punching and strangling someone, hence the bail revokeage
  • ...finds out that there was a reason why only a small amount of pot was found "on" the dudes The good stuff was in the BFD vehicle: "five bags of marijuana, three joints, and a plastic pill bottle"
  • ...provides an email address

Breaking news: second Herald article, which leaves out quite a bit, but contains some additional details nobody else seems to have:

  • Gaston's salary (almost $100k for 26 years on the job)
  • The victim in the A/B charges is Gaston's girlfriend
  • Gaston was busted in 2000 for DUI and marijuana posession, but only got probation
  • A decent photo from the courtroom

Over in TV Land, WHDH gets lazy and pulls their copy from the AP, but does contain a statement from the union president, something nobody else bothered to do. The extra lazy bit: they slapped on a screen grab from footage they took in 2002 when Gaston saved a bunch of folks, but somehow forget to mention his hero credentials in, say, a caption or footnote to the story. Booo, no ice cream (or bullet items) for you, WHDH :(

WCVB's coverage is lightweight with some notable exceptions:

  • Anthony Gaston is actually Anthony "Tony" Gaston (earth shattering)
  • the mystery substance in the pill container was Percocet
  • Cops also found "large amounts of cash"
  • this hilarious statement from Boston Fire Department: "Officials said that he was in uniform doing investigations for the department at the time of his arrest."

Either Boston Fire Department has a hilarious definition of "doing investigations for the department"...or he was in uniform, smoking up part of five pounds of pot with a drug dealer, at the time of his arrest.

Boston Now names the other perps and appears to have heard about the exciting field of photography, so they have a photo from the court room. They blow it in the second round with a one-two punch: playing it loose on details, and devoting nearly half the article to recounting The Dispute. Handy for those who have been living in a cave until now. Wordcount: 255.

Last but not least, The Metro also appears to have heard of newfangled things like photographers, and even gives them credit. Alas, only 78 words: knocked out half-way into the first round.

The final verdict? Virtually nobody competently covered the story, and the Globe's coverage was downright pathetic; note to the globe staff: it'd help if you stopped wasting your staff's time on this stupid bull. However, the Herald seems to have come the closest and gets a two-scoop award for story coverage. It could have been a three-scooper (especially with the second story), if it wasn't for my supreme disappointment at the Herald's failure to come up with a crack involving Jays and Jakes.

Oh, hold on. I figured out why the globe didn't have any photos of Mr. Gaston. I suppose I can forgive them after all.



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