Globe embeds in Bowdoin-Geneva

The Boston Globe is located only a short distance from the Bowdoin-Geneva section of Dorchester, but the newspaper thought that wasn’t close enough. To get a better understanding of the violence-prone neighborhood, five Globe reporters spent a year doing research on the area and two of the reporters actually moved into an apartment on Mount Ida Road for five months. The result was a five-part, multimedia series that takes readers inside the neighborhood and the lives of some of its residents to find out the impact of persistent violence. The rate of shootings in the 68-block area is four times what it is in the rest of the city as a whole. The series offers a lot of perspective but no easy answers.

The series represents the mobilization of the type of resources that few media outlets attempt any more. A team of reporters, photographers, and editors worked on the series for a year. Each day’s article started on the front page and filled four pages inside. The paper’s website takes the series to a whole new level with videos, informative charts, interactive maps, and more.

Meghan Irons, who along with Akilah Johnson moved into a three-bedroom, $1,650-a-month apartment in the neighborhood, says the live-in experiment was an attempt to go beyond the parachuting reporting that often happens with a troubled neighborhood. “For a year this was my focus,” she says, noting her primary interest was Big Nate Davis and his family as they dealt with the death of one son and the imprisonment of another.

Irons told CommonWealth it was hard getting people to open up, but over time folks went about their daily lives as if she wasn’t there. That feeling of being a fly on the wall comes through in the writing. In Wednesday’s installment, for example, Big Nate Davis is being hassled by a man named Phil and chases after him. He can’t catch him so he gives up, saying “Come here. I ain’t gonna touch you.” But when Phil draws near, Davis slams him in the face. That moment and others are captured perfectly.

Irons grew up in the Four Corners section of Dorchester and today calls Hyde Park home. She says her home and Bowdoin-Geneva are just 15 minutes apart. “They felt world’s apart even though they are part of the same city,” she said.

                                                                            –BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

Just how slow is the state’s casino-approval process?  As slow as “turtles on Ambien,” says Joan Vennochi.

Former state lab chemist Annie Dookhan testified as an expert witness six months after she’d been suspended for tampering with drug evidence.

NEWTOWN/GUNS

Gun sales are way up in the wake of the shootings in Connecticut, the Eagle-Tribune reports. The number of gun permits issued in Massachusetts has been on the rise over the past five years, the Globe reports.

Outgoing US Sen. Scott Brown, in a turnaround that better positions him for another Senate run should John Kerry vacate his seat, flips on his longstanding opposition to a federal assault weapons ban.

The NRA may be losing ground, in part because of its shift toward supporting Republican Party causes and changing demographics. And because New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has the money to match their every move on gun control. The White House vows quick action on gun control, but has an uphill slog ahead of it. A New York Times editorial decries the “NRA protection racket” in Congress.

A Fitchburg State University student who was expelled from school on Monday is arrested for trespassing and found to be carrying a belt of semi-automatic rifle ammunition, the Lowell Sun reports.

A Virginia Republican files a bill requiring some teachers and staff at schools to carry weapons, the Washington Post reports. The Daily Beast reports that similar bills will be filed in other states.

POLITICS/WASHINGTON

The National Review bids a fond farewell to conservative judicial lightning rod Robert Bork, who died yesterday at the age of 85. The Wall Street Journal editorial page argues that Bork “had more impact than most Supreme Court justices,” and laments the “smear campaign for the ages” that Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden led against Bork. “For younger readers who wonder when US politics took on their current poisonous character,” the Journal editorial asserts, “the Bork fight was the turning point. Democrats cast the first smear.” The New Yorker’s Jeff Toobin offers a farewell that falls a few notches short of fond:  “Robert Bork, who died Wednesday, was an unrepentant reactionary who was on the wrong side of every major legal controversy of the twentieth century.” From there Toobin goes on to say how he really feels about the departed barrister.

Rep. Eric Cantor hasn’t been close enough to the fiscal cliff negotiations to screw them up. Yet!

According to Jay Leno, prospective Secretary of State John Kerry will “bore our enemies to death.”

ELECTIONS

Outgoing Sen. Scott Brown is in a strong position should Sen. John Kerry step aside and make way for a special election to replace him, according to a WBUR poll conducted by the MassINC Polling Group.

Planning for the Romney transition that never happened cost the US government $8.9 million.

James Carter IV, of the “47 percent” video fame, starts opposition research firm.

Democrats are leaning on Ted Kennedy Jr. to jump into the race for John Kerry’s not-yet-vacant Senate seat, and they’re trying to put some daylight between Kennedy and Connecticut, the state in which he resides. The Herald also floats the name of David Simas, a former White House and State House aide.

CHARITY

A new study co-authored in part by Harvard University and Boston College professors finds that “elite” nonprofits such as arts institutions and colleges rather than social welfare programs benefit most from corporate donations

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

UBS will pay a $1.5 billion fine for engaging in a rate-rigging scheme.

Regulators say big cuts in fishing quotas are likely.

Massachusetts signs off on $34 million in tax breaks for more than a dozen local companies.

The Treasury will sell the government’s stake in General Motors within 15 months.

An Atlanta company buys the New York Stock Exchange, Bloomberg reports.

EDUCATION

The Archdiocese of Boston tells a Salem parish that it can’t lease space to Nativity Prep, an independent Catholic school, the Salem News reports. The rejection fits a pattern. As CommonWealth has reported, the archdiocese has refused to lease its empty schools to competitors, particularly charter schools.

Better get to that homework: A Barnstable science teacher uses the Mayan doomsday fears as a teachable moment.

HEALTH CARE

Paul Levy says the Division of Insurance is misinterpreting — or ignoring — a law passed by the Legislature that requires provider organizations to bear the risk of alternative payment contracts.

TRANSPORTATION

The Cape Cod Times celebrates the prospect of summer rail service from Boston to Hyannis.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

President Obama has declared six Massachusetts counties disaster areas to allow them to recoup some of the costs of dealing with Hurricane Sandy.

Utilities benefit under California’s cap and trade program, Governing reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A Salem District Court judge is grappling with what to do about a sex offender who failed to register, the Salem News reports. Officials want him thrown in jail, but his lawyer points out that he has no use of his legs and is homeless.

A Probate Court judge denied the petition of Charles Jaynes, who was convicted of kidnapping, raping, and killing 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley in 1997, to change his name to another that he said reflected his conversion to the Wiccan faith.

The alleged teenaged victim in the rape case against prominent Quincy developer William O’Connell was identified as the person who was killed in a car crash in Malden on Tuesday.

MEDIA

Newspapers are unique in their inability to capture the swelling online advertising market. Google now takes in more ad revenues than all of US print media.