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Boston media still obsessed with Whitey

Posted by Mark Leccese  June 21, 2011 01:03 PM

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I want Whitey Bulger caught. I want him to be tried for the cruel and sickening crimes of which he is accused. I want — if this is even possible — Bulger’s apprehension and trial to bring some comfort and closure to the hundreds and hundreds of victims and the families of the victims of his crimes.

I just don’t want to read a bunch of old news about him. More than half of today’s Globe front page above the fold was taken up with photos of Bulger, his presumed girlfriend Catherine Greig, and a timeline of various unsuccessful FBI strategies reaching out to the public for assistance in capturing Bulger.

Oh, there was real news about the hunt for Bulger yesterday, and the actual news of the FBI’s announcement that it will run ads on daytime TV in the hope someone will have seen Greig ran on the front of the Globe’s Metro sections.

That’s where it belongs — not dominating page one. Or leading WBZ’s radio newscasts. Or as the second story on NECN’s nightly news (following a fire in Haverhill).

The Herald, perhaps assuming the Globe would splash the FBI story all over its page one, didn’t even mention Bulger on its front page, going with a story about revelations in documents from a lawsuit filed against Logan Airport by the family of 9/11 victim Mark Bavis and a photo of a woman in a bikini (“Tasty Summer Swimsuits!”). Tasty?

But the story, two columns and four photos on pages 4 and 5 made up for it — as has the Herald’s continuing to run ad-like boxes called “Whitey’s World” here and there in the paper featuring various long-deceased or forgotten members of Bulger’s gang.

Oddest of all in this morning’s Herald is a half-page photo — obtained by columnist Howie Carr (who has a new book out on the Bulger gang that follows up his book of 2006) — of Whitey as a 12-year-old boy.

By 1:30 yesterday afternoon, following the FBI press conference, had the Bulger story as the website’s lead story — with four different links, other the link to the story, including:

  • A slideshow of file photos of Bulger that we've all seen hundreds of times.
  • A “mob map” highlighting places from “Boston’s underworld history.” None of the sites highlighted on the map (which links to another slideshow!) were the scene of any Bulger-related news for at least ten years.

Just because editors have this stuff in the files doesn’t mean they should use it.

It has been 16 years since Bulger disappeared and was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. There have been no confirmed sightings of Bulger and Greig for almost that long.

Enough already. When they catch him, then I’ll be happy to see it leading newscasts and blown out on the front page. Until then, it's not page-one material.

Follow @mleccese on Twitter.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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About the author

Mark Leccese, a journalism professor at Emerson College, covered Massachusetts politics, business and the arts for more than 25 years as a newspaper reporter, editor and magazine writer. He has More »

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