The Boston Globe Story – Ugly And Lazy Journalism
By William Legault
Last Thursday the Boston Globe featured a story written by reporter Jack Pickell. The story was about a Salem couples fight against drug dealing that they allege is happening at their condo building on the corner of Levitt Street and Perkins Street. There are also instances of harassment and vandalism detailed.
The story by Pickell is an ugly and lazy piece of “journalism” that paints the Point neighborhood as dangerous, overrun by drug dealers and sociopaths, and our police department and city government as unconcerned and focused only on appearances. Was there any thought given to walking down to the On-Point/Plummer Home building less than a block away to get a broader sense of the neighborhood?
As a result of the story local social media sites have wondered aloud if Mr. Meehan and his wife were over-reacting or perhaps a little crazy.
The portrayal of both the Point and the Meehans in that story served no purpose other than to titillate knuckleheads.
The direction that the story took is not the fault of Shawn Meehan or his wife. They spoke to a reporter who chose to create clickbait as opposed to actually crafting a story that was true to fact and actually informative. Shame on the Boston Globe for this. It is hard to blame Pickell although I do want to blame him. We do not know what he gave to the editor, so we do not know what the editor chose to use or not to use
Let me be clear here. I am a Point kid. My family is from the Point, and I lived there until I was 11-years old. All of this talk about how bad the Point has become is foolishness. It has always been a working class neighborhood regardless of era and demographics. It was not a a Garden of Eden when the French-Canadian population ruled, and it is not one now that the Latino population dominates.
Mr. Meehan and his wife bought a home, one they could afford in order to stay in Salem. I know many others that are struggling to do the same thing. It is difficult now with the housing markets, for both rental and ownership, pricing the working class out.
The problems at the condo building where Meehan lives are real. Their videos show this clearly. They do not show undeniable criminal action, at least not clearly enough to warrant arrests, but they do show something unseemly may be happening.
I walked down there on Thursday afternoon, had lunch at Celia’s with a friend and then strolled over to the building in question in order to speak with a Kevin, a gentleman I know who happens to live there. I was also hoping to have a chance to speak with Mr. Meehan. Kevin was supportive of the Meehans and their situation.
As I spoke to Kevin, a very young Latino boy stood in a doorway listening and watching. I could not help but to wonder what he was thinking of the situation. As a child in the Point I remember feeling confusion listening to my parents speak of the Latino newcomers. The words used were ugly. What was this child hearing?
Then Mr. Meehan emerged from the same door. Well, he did not show me an angry man, but he is a man who is upset with what he sees as a lack of response from his condo association, some some owners in the building who rent their units, and the Salem Police Department and our city government. I do not know who is in his condo association and I do not know the owners of the rented units, but I would say that Mr. Meehan has some justification for his complaints.
I do know the Salem Police fairly well. They are a good department. Those who throw the corruption word around, and allege that they are unwilling to address drug issues are wrong in every sense. They work hard. Yes there are one or two, at all levels, who can be less than polite at times, but overall they do a difficult job properly. If and when there is enough evidence of drug dealing it will be addressed.
City government is as responsive as we make it. That is just a simple but hard truth. In these days of social media many think that the best way to address issues is to complain in on-line forums. That is one way. It is not the only way, and certainly not the best way.
Mr. Meehan, out of true frustration has brought into the bright lights the problems that he has been dealing with. The Boston Globe decided to use his frustration to throw some gasoline, and a lit match into the situation.
Now it up to us in Salem to deal with it. Let’s give all parties the benefit of a doubt here, excepting the Globe of course, and take a long step back with a deep breath.
We are Salem, we are in this together.