Shots fired — at cars and the media
Back Bay gunfire draws coverage that’s rare in other Boston neighborhoods
GUNFIRE RANG OUT yesterday afternoon in the Back Bay. The casualties?
Several cars — and confidence among some in the media’s coverage of gun violence. No one was hit in the gunfire exchange, which occurred near the corner of Fairfield and Boylston streets, but several cars were struck.
With gun violence on a troubling upswing in Boston, attention to the issue seems well deserved. But do we treat such incidents equally regardless of where they occur?
News helicopters circled the Back Bay yesterday, and TV station websites as well as the Boston Globe had reports this morning on the arrest of two men who are facing illegal gun possession and armed career criminal charges in connection with the incident.
The Herald reported earlier this week that homicides are up 60 percent this year in Boston — there have been 40 to date — and nonfatal shootings are up 32 percent.
The news coverage question seems to come down to the old adage that it’s news when a man bites a dog, not when a dog bites a man. The fact that gunfire is rare in the upscale Back Bay neighborhood makes it more newsworthy when it happens.
The Crime Hub Twitter account, which follows crime reports in Boston, tweeted yesterday about coverage of the gunfire. “Seriously! So this single incident, no one hurt, is reportable local news? Hundreds of shots fired calls all year long in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan area complete[ly] ignored by media.”
Reporter David Bernstein, who has extensively covered gun violence issues, had a head-shaking take on the situation this morning. “Boy oh boy Boston, you really have quite a reaction when someone fires a gun near white people,” he tweeted.If we were less inured to gun violence in Boston’s black neighborhoods where it’s concentrated, and if it got the same level of coverage as unusual gunfire incidents in the Back Bay, could that shift public priorities and resources in a way that might make a difference?
Shots ringing out — with no one hit — in the sections of Boston most plagued by gun violence rarely if ever make this kind of news. But the incidents are no less terrorizing to the people who endure them than yesterday’s gunfire on Fairfield Street.