Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Shining A Light

Shine the light on the story, not yourself

I consider myself an aggressive reporter.  When at the scene of a fire or riot, if I don't get yelled at by police, then I'm doing something wrong.  But whether covering a chaotic outdoor disturbance or a boring indoor zoning board hearing, I always try to stay out of the way.

When using public documents to uncover truths for a story, I try to let the documents speak for themselves.  The hard part is knowing such documents exist and who it is you need to hit with a public documents request.

The events unfolding in Ferguson are -- as Commander Spock would say -- "fascinating".     For many reasons.

As usual, folks are quick to jump to conclusions based on their built up biases.  I'm a BIG fan of public safety (admitting my bias for those of you who may be first timers to this blog)  but an even bigger fan of journalism.

I will, however, never suppress or ignore the truth to protect either of them.  

There's no question Ferguson police could use a refresher course on respecting constitutional rights, and just plain old public relations.  The images of Darth Vader like squads of police armed for Armageddon is not the kind of thing you want presented on the nightly news ... or even that newfangled thing, the Internet.

Reporters want to report, it's kinda their job.  And it's really hard to do that when police keep you corralled up far from the scene of the action.

Police, conversely, want to quell the very action reporters need to report, and it can sometimes be difficult to do when reporters get in the way.  Or worse, their presence serves to incite an already amped-up crowd.

UMPD firing pellets into the crowd (burning sugar) 10/31/13

At all the disturbances I've covered involving rowdy students both on and off the UMass campus, I have never yet seen a TV news camera not cause a volatile reaction from the crowd.  And yes, when police don their riot gear, that too incites the crowd.

So what we now have in Ferguson is the worst combination of the two.

If police had been more forthcoming with the facts from the very beginning, the cycle of violence would never have gotten out of hand.  Mainstream media also took too long to awaken to the story, but now it's become a circus where reporters outnumber protesters.

"Sunlight is said to be  the best of disinfectants."  Perhaps why all the mayhem seems to occur after dark.


Dr. Ed said...

Larry, your experience reporting on disturbances is considerably different than mine -- considerably.

And no, I don't call them "riots." What's happening in Furgeson are "riots" -- can you remember when the UMPD or APD had a Molotov Cocktail thrown at them?


Oh, and did you see the reports that the officer's head was smashed in (broken skull around eye) -- if that's true, we aren't talking about the judgment we expect of the reasonable police officer but that of the reasonable injured police officer...

I still say "PCP" -- it's the only thing that makes sense...

Anonymous said...

They happen to be covering the story because it's August, and they have nothing else. If this had occurred when they were transfixed by a plane going down without a trace, they would have ignored this.

Watch any hour or half-hour of the coverage and count the number of times the so-called journalists congratulate themselves or each other. Watch for it on this blog, too.

The news media has stopped providing perspective on stories relative to each other. It's now whatever gets ratings and nothing else. And those doing the coverage are all about themselves. It's a long way from Cronkite.

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, that's why I endured a three hour and twenty minute Regional Agreement Working Group meeting last night.

I'm sure the ratings for that upcoming article will go through the roof. Or not.

Anonymous said...

Like I said: watch for the self-congratulation.

Remember the old joke that "military intelligence" is an oxymoron?

Well, the new one is "journalistic ethics". The other night, the networks were going to keep the cameras on at Ferguson until they got what they wanted: chaos and violence. Whatever they do is justified because they are just "getting the story". No consideration of whether the cameras rolling (and commentators talking) is contributing to the disorder, changing the scene they are observing.

Similarly, we can hear Larry shouting at the School Committee in June when it voted to go into Executive Session. He can't decide whether he's covering the story or whether he IS the story.

We've lost confidence that good work by itself rewards itself. So we get the inevitable self-display: "look at me and how great I am." The logo at NBC is (ironically) the peacock. Now more appropriate than ever.

Larry Kelley said...

Like I said, I'm an aggressive reporter and I bristle when a public body goes into Executive Session without following the rules .

keithw said...

The mainstream media is the biggest culprit in suppressing or ignoring the truth in my opinion. Political/corporate lapdogs, the lot of them.

keithw said...

Actually, the new oxymoron is: "Like I said" coming from anonymous.

Anonymous said...

"If police had been more forthcoming with the facts from the very beginning, the cycle of violence would never have gotten out of hand."


This statement shows just how much you too are tricked and swayed by the media. The question of what the police released and what they did not during an active investigation and the judgement of the outcome is a media fabrication.

A recent study of media accuracy measured the results of what was said on all major TV outlets vs truth. The results were 46% of what was stated by the media was shown to have factual basis, the rest incorrect information, outright lies, and misinformation.

Nothing really has changed in this story other than hype and misinformation. The reality based on many witnesses and recordings of conversations just after the fact seems to be that an 18 year old taunted then accosted a police officer in his vehicle, attempting to wrestle for his gun, and as one poster stated here, breaking the officers eye socket after punching him. As the officer left his vehicle to pursue this person he was again taunted by this person and feared for his life as the person turned to the officer and rushed him to attack him further. The officer did what was necessary to stop this person.

Question why he shot six bullets all you want (a media slanted presentation of excessive force), but put in the same situation of fearing for their lives officers sometimes empty their magazines to later recount the story believing they fired off no more than a single shot.

Everything else is just "witnesses" saying whatever they can to make police look like vigilantes. Historically in black communities it is what happens any time a police officer is involved in a shooting. Thankfully in most cases many of these officers are vindicated by facts and not emotional hearsay and outright lies.

The fact that the family "hired" a celebrity coroner so soon so that they could sway information the way they needed to is very telling of what may well have really happened.

It will be up to the grand jury to sort through the misinformation and make an educated decision as to the truth.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, KeithW, of course, we all know who you are.

You're as anonymous as anyone.

Get off your high horse.

keithw said...

Yeah, Anon 4:37, people on this blog know me. And if you honestly feel that way then why don't you use your first name & last initial? I'm not on any high horse, but at least I can say I can reach down into my front pants pockets and locate more than a pair of keys. I apologize for the insult if you are a woman, however.

Anonymous said...

keithw --

Bullshit. I've been reading this blog for years, and I have no idea who you are. I suspect no one else does, either.

And if anybody ever came up to you and said "Hey, Keith Wilson, were those your idiotic comments about playing pocket pool on Larry Kelley's blog?", you could plausibly deny it.

Which is exactly the same as leaving no handle at all.


Anonymous said...

Larry doesn't have any "friends" on facebook named Keith with a last name begiining with W. I'm a long time reader as well and I don't know who keithw is.

keithw said...


I suppose you might actually be male, based on your angry response. I'm sorry you don't appreciate my tact. I was simply communicating the fact that you have NO BALLS, without actually having to say it. Once again, thanks for proving it, as you admit to being active on this blog for years; likely as an anon. I'm sure EVERYONE knows you, huh? "Hey, see that smug, drawn out, boring troll-like comment? That's Anonymous! He's been on this blog for years! I heard he's switched to HieronymousB! Wow! That's so witty!"

Sorry if you feel I've stumbled onto your turf, but you're coming across as a little self-conscious. You should get a handle.

keithw said...


Larry, let me feed this troll one last time and I promise that'll be all.

Anon, or is it HieronymousB--I'm assuming it's still you (I can't keep you cowards straight) I've obviously gotten under your skin, otherwise you wouldn't be up at 1:40 in the morning creeping on Larry's friend list. I'm actually not on FB.

In closing, it's ironic a coward who signs on as anon attempts to expose someone else on a blog titled "Shining a Light"

Anonymous said...

I've also been reading this blog for a very long time and I have no idea who keithw is.


Larry Kelley said...

Well I certainly know who he is.

Anonymous said...

The point is that he is just as Anon to all of us Anon as the next guy or gal Anon. So he needs to get off his superiority high horse.


Anonymous said...

Kelley, FYI every single one of the "stories" you write has your politics and very often your cranky-ass tone. That you don't realize that is amazing. Guess it reveals how unaware you are. This blog is about you from every angle. You couldn't present an unbiased story about the schools,
The apd or the afd if your life depended on it. Take off the blinders dude or don't bother trying to convince anyone you don't put yourself in the story.

keithw said...


Thanks for following my instructions by using your first name and last initial.

Good little anon.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon 925. That's why in my eyes Larry is not a reporter. He is a blogger. Which is fine. Nothing wrong with that. Bloggers are important in the online world. But they are not journalists or reporters, who are supposed to just report the news in an unbiased way. The Gazette is also full of so called journalists but their reporting, especially about the schools, is also slanted. Deb Scherban is as bad as Larry in the bias category.

Anonymous said...

Good little anon.

What an incredible douche.

allenr (or maybe it's philt? or bradh?)

keithw said...

Anon 10:46

Incredible? No. Douche? Figuratively, yes. In that I keep YOU smelling fresh.

Anonymous said...

So "keithw" calls "marciab" an Anon -- yet he believes that "keithw" is not.

Why is it unsurprising that "keithw" is so quick with his troll insults, yet is unable to grasp basic logic?

keithw said...

Anon 5:08

Marciab signed her Anonymous comment Marciab after I convinced her to do so. I then thanked her for it.

Follow along.

Anonymous said...

Yo keithw!
You had nothing to do with how I sign my name. Sheesh you are as bad as Ed. The world does not revolve around you. And you can't even tell when you are being mocked. Just like Ed again!
marciab. :)

keithw said...


Sorry, I was only speaking for you while setting the other anon straight. It just seemed like you were in a bit of a tizzy trying to make your point. Thanks for the wake up call, though. Good luck with that identity crisis.


Anonymous said...

Dear KeithW

Thanks for clarifying the whole Cowardly Anon Nitwit oxymoronic problem for all of us.

Glad we're done with that.


keithw said...


No problem. Believe me, It's been a pleasure smashing all of these invisible anon faces. I'm certain I'll encounter them all again once they start singling out & attacking individuals collectively like the sniveling pack of hyenas they are, all while from the safe confines of their coveted anonymity. Despite your sarcasm, I appreciate you sticking a fork in this ridiculous, yet much needed conversation.

Say hi to Danny Zuko for me :)


Anonymous said...

I am also glad.

Anonymous said...

Ohhhh... now I understand. KeithW sees himself as a gutsy non-Anon because Larry and Larry alone (with whom he generally agrees anyway) knows who he is.

You're right, KeithW, that takes real balls, since Larry might bruise you with a bro hug next time you see him. I sure wish I could tell my friends who I am!


Larry Kelley said...

Well I also know who Herman Munster is.

In fact, Herman was a friend of mine.

And let me tell ya something Anon: You're no Herman Munster!

Anonymous said...

Oh is HermanM Herman Munster? I thought it was Herman Melville.

keithw said...

Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in.

Anon 11:22/HermanM, I'm glad your brain started working--that's good stuff. While you're pouring over every comment in this blog trying to put it all together, why don't you browse the archives and double check the accuracy of your statement.

Oh, and if Larry were to bruise me, I can say honestly that that's not the first time that's ever happened. There are people who follow this blog who can say the same--they'll recognize me. And they probably won't choose anonymous as their identity.

On the subject of balls and friends...why don't you go get some?