Shots fired — at cars and the media
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.
Catholic schools for the most part have remained open for in-person education during COVID, and so far infections have been held at bay. Gov. Charlie Baker, who backs in-person learning, calls parochial schools “one of the best active demonstrations about in-person learning going on anywhere right now.”
Top Baker administration officials say MCAS exams will return next spring and urge communities, even those designated red, or high-risk for COVID-19, to continue in-person learning.
Baker urges families to pass the stuffing on Zoom this year if their gatherings extend beyond immediate family. His administration is also doing cluster analysis to determine where infections are occurring.
The governor calls ranked-choice voting too complicated for voters and vote counters. Jesse Mermell, a leading backer of Question 2, calls the governor’s comments “insulting to Massachusetts voters.”
The SJC rules that insurers don’t have to cover the cost of medical marijuana, leaving Daniel Wright with a $24,000 bill he has to pay.
Holyoke Soldiers’ Home staffers tell their stories about the COVID-19 outbreak at the facility, and say problems are ongoing.
Two prisoners test positive at MCI-Norfolk.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
The Baker administration holds its first commutation hearing for a prisoner serving a life sentence for murder. (WBUR)
Town officials in Great Barrington are peeved about scientists who promoted a herd immunity approach and called it the Great Barrington Declaration, but they refused to sign on to a letter of complaint because of the letter’s harsh tone. (Berkshire Eagle)
MassLive publishes a series of maps showing the change in high-risk communities since August.
At Holyoke Medical Center, 15 employees test positive for coronavirus in an outbreak tied to employees eating together in a break room. (MassLive) Crossroads Community Church in Fitchburg is linked to 28 coronavirus cases. (Telegram & Gazette)
The New York Times documents President Trump’s troubled Chicago skyscraper project, for which he ended up getting $270 million in debt forgiven by lenders.
Democrats think they have a legitimate shot at winning control of the US Senate next week. (Boston Globe)
A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Joe Biden with a 7-point lead in Michigan and far larger 17-point lead in Wisconsin.
Wellfleet moves its ballot drop-off box to the lobby of its police station. (Cape Cod Times)
Blind and visually impaired voters worry about disenfranchisement due to mail-in voting. (GBH)
Salem Arcade Bit Bar, which sued the Baker administration for requiring arcades to stay closed, is now back in court fighting a provision in a state coronavirus relief program that would require Bit Bar to drop its suit to be eligible for financial assistance. (The Salem News)
Local supermarkets see shortages but no panic buying. (Herald News)
Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius suggests some students could return to buildings as soon as Thursday — but her office quickly reverses that and says students are not yet coming back. (Boston Herald)
State education commissioner Jeff Riley says communities falling in the “red” zone on the state’s coronavirus map should not necessarily revert to all-remote learning in schools, drawing a charge from a teachers union leader that “The goalpost keeps changing.” (Boston Herald)
Theater workers rally in Worcester to draw attention to the challenges COVID-19-related closures are creating for them and the venues they work for. (Telegram & Gazette)
The City of Salem preserves city records that are up to 400 years old and creates an online database. They include documents related to the Joshua Ward House, where George Washington once visited. (MassLive)
A company launches COVID-19 testing at Logan International Airport. (WBUR)
The Springfield Police Department declines to renew Bishop Talbot Swan’s position as a volunteer chaplain for the department, drawing criticism from the NAACP. Swan has been a prominent critic of the police department. (MassLive)
A series of decisions by a Norfolk Superior Court judge may have put an end to the 15-year fight over the construction of a trash transfer station on the Holbrook-Randolph border. (Patriot Ledger)
Brockton’s trial court is closed Wednesday for cleaning after an employee who last worked several days ago tested positive for COVID-19. (Enterprise News)
MEDIAThe Worcester Telegram & Gazette overhauls its website, and explains why.