Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why Print Journalism Needs to Survive - Boston Globe's Kevin Cullen and Marthon Terror Bombing

Boston Police officers stood near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Tuesday morning.
 Boston cops at the Finish Line on Boylston Street. Kevin Cullen of the  Boston Globe respects cops - you tell by his writing
"This is how bad this is. I went out Monday night and bumped into some firefighters I know. They said one of the dead was an 8-year-old boy from Dorchester who had gone out to hug his dad after he crossed the finish line. The dad walked on; the boy went back to the sidewalk to join his mom and his little sister. And then the bomb went off. The boy was killed. His sister’s leg was blown off. His mother was badly injured. That’s just one ­family, one story." 
Kevin Cullen, The Boston Globe

Television news is a sick joke.  Print media is not much better,  Radio still provides . . . news.  The computer as well and I am damned if I will go to the phone, the Pad, or whatever the techno-geek billionaires crank out.

There are good writers waste deep in the swamp that was once a stream of facts, opinion and entertainment.  There are writers like Steve Rhodes, Dennis Byrne, Caroline Connors, Steve Metsch, Rick Morrisey, Mike Mulligan, Natasha Korecki, Tim Novak, Dan Mihiapolus, Mark Konkol and the iconoclastic John Kass still writing with grace and skill. Politically, they are as different as the as the cast of Rawhide.

Years ago, I got to be pals with Brian McGrory of the Globe and he wrote the intro to my history of Leo High School.  Brian is a terrific writer, but saddled with onerous task of Managing Editor and more importantly a fine human being.

The Boston Globe's Kevin Cullen is a writer.  Today, in a few paragraphs, Cullen gives a tutorial in journalism.  He has the facts at his feet and his finger tips, but he does not rattle off a staccato shower of nouns like a Nazi Death Camp accountant, or EJ Dionne.

Cullen goes for the heart the head and the humanity of the reader without intruding himself over the narrative, like Geraldo Rivera or our President.

This is a fine example of just what I am talking about -

In an instant, so many lives changed. Some ended. The telephone lines burned. Everybody was trying to figure out who and why. The cops I talked to were shaking their heads. It could be anybody. Could be foreign. Could be domestic. Could be Al Qaeda. Could be home-grown nuts.
It was Patriots Day. It was tax day. It was Israel’s independence day. Theories swirled like the smoke above Boylston Street. Friday marks the 20th anniversary of the FBI assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and the 18th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.
Then there was the story about the young Saudi guy who was being questioned by the FBI. Now, the FBI wouldn’t tell me if my pants were on fire, but my old pal John Miller from CBS News reported that the kid did a runner after the explosion and that somebody tackled him and held him for the police. Miller used to be an associate director at the FBI, and let’s just say his sources there are impeccable. Miller says the Saudi guy was cooperative and denied he had anything to do with the bombing. He says he took off because, like everybody else in the Back Bay, he was terrified. A law enforcement source later told me that Miller’s story is right on the money.
I saw Lisa Hughes from WBZ-TV trying to do her job, amid the blood and the body parts. And then I remembered that Lisa, who is as nice a person as you’ll find in this business, married a guy from Wellesley named Mike Casey who lost his wife Neilie on one of the planes out of Boston that crashed into the Twin Towers. And then I tried not to cry and just marveled at how professional Lisa was.

Unlike our homegrown TV nitwits ( Andy Shaw  and Chuck Goudie always comes to mind),  Kevin Cullen places the spotlight on the people the reader should learn about and care about and not what an Andy or an EJ, or a Chuck think about anything.

As TV is swamped with ninnies, let's pray that print media can once again feature writers who are also good people. Journalism can and should work that way.

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