As we strive to communicate every time our keyboards get clicking, the stories we bring you in DigBoston—alternative news, or alt news, as we used to say before those right-wing assholes bit our lingo—is either news you aren’t getting elsewhere, or the people’s version of the capitalist rubbish found in mainstream media. And man oh man, we unearthed a lot of those critical hidden nuggets in the past 12 months.
This is not a list of our most viewed articles, nor is it a rundown of the pieces that our editors like most. There’s certainly a smidgen of those elements, but more than anything this is a showcase of the hard-hitting reporting our writers did in 2017. It’s only a fraction—for the full breadth, you’d have to also check out all our columns by the likes of Haley Hamilton and Jason Pramas, plus our cannabis front dispatches, a slew of op-eds, and spot pieces galore. Still, the compendium below serves as a darn good representation of why outlets like the Dig are not just still important, but perhaps more important than ever before.
Finally, we want to thank everyone who has worked with and contributed to the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism (BINJ), which we formed nearly three years ago to help with this kind of substantial journalism. If you would like to see us make an even bigger impact in 2018, you can support independent media at givetobinj.org.
THE OUTSIDERS (By Mike DeSocio)
LGBTQ teens and young adults experiencing homelessness say prejudice excludes them from many services, while the dangers of being “out” keep others from even trying to access them in the first place. Beyond the difficulties they face due to their sexual or gender identity, Liniște and her peers exist in the rift between youth and adult services.
EIGHT ISN’T ENOUGH (By Laura Kiesel)
In the absence of rent control in the Boston area, which is the fifth most expensive area to live in the nation, Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers can be a crucial way to enable lower income families the opportunity to remain in the metro area. That is, if they can actually access one and find a landlord willing to rent to them.
SMOOTH LANDING (FOR NOW) (By Joshua Eaton)
Trump signed the sweeping executive order late in the day on Jan 27. The following night, as thousands protested at airports nationwide, a federal judge in Brooklyn handed down a nationwide stay blocking US Customs and Border Protection from using the order to deport anyone. Meanwhile, at a dramatic all-night hearing in a sweltering courtroom in Boston, two federal judges signed a seven-day stay preventing both detentions and deportations.
HOW TO BUILD A NATURAL GAS PIPELINE IN MASS (By Kori Feener)
The Houston-based behemoth made pipe-dream promises to be positive community partners to its neighbors and abutters in the Berkshires… As noted by the many activists who have been protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline, however, as well as by politicians at all levels, the permitting process and operation behind the $93 million CT Expansion have left much to be desired.
LOBOTOMASS (By Jonathan Riley)
From mind control experiments to taxpayer-funded black magic to housing Nazi scientists in Boston Harbor, the Commonwealth has an unparalleled dark side to its noted innovation legacy—with many shadows leading to today’s technological titans.
INTERSECTIONAL POLITICS (By Kylie Obermeier)
Despite well-known hazards for cyclists, problems persist while municipal officials, a lot of street safety advocates say, are not acting urgently or adequately enough to make vital changes. In their own defense, city officials maintain that improving infrastructure takes a lot of time and energy, perhaps most of all in trying to negotiate between the often conflicting demands of residents.
#CONDEMBTA (By Derek Kouyoumjian)
To illustrate the state of transit infrastructure, we asked ace Boston photographer Derek Kouyoumjian to spend a month over the winter snapping photographs of utterly dilapidated MBTA tracks, stations, and trains.
THE UGLY TRUTH ABOUT PUBLIC RECORDS ACCESS (By Maya Shaffer)
By policy, the DOC generates a quarterly report related to inmates suffering gender dysphoria. I requested these reports as part of my ongoing coverage of the department’s housing of transgender inmates in facilities that do not match their gender identities.
WATCHING BOSTON (By Daniel DeFraia)
The Winston gun discovery became one of the first stories the Boston Police Department cited to advertise its civilian vigilance program, Neighborhood Crime Watch. Since then, every Boston mayor and police commissioner has claimed that watch groups make the city safer. However, this investigation of the BPD’s 32-year Crime Watch program found that may not be the case.
THE YAWKEY WAY (By Britni de la Cretaz)
There is a long and documented history of discrimination against Black residents of Boston. If their lived experience tells us anything, it’s that there is good reason to doubt statements by officials about what is tolerated here and what isn’t… From ignoramus radio talkers to bigoted fans and a checkered past, Boston baseball has a race problem.
WE CAME, WE SAW, WE COVERED (By Multiple Reporters)
Between the protesters, the counterprotesters, the media, the cops, and a handful of trolls, countless stories unfolded in Boston last weekend. These are several we encountered…
SMALL TOWN SWAT TEAM (By Seth Kershner)
An analysis of hundreds of pages of police records and incident reports, obtained through public records requests, shows that small town police departments like Ludlow are amassing enormous arsenals, use SWAT in ways that go beyond their original mission, and are sometimes unable to properly select and train officers.
CREDIBLE FEAR (By Sarah Betancourt)
Byah was arrested on an outstanding final order of deportation issued by an immigration judge in 2012, according to ICE. Her one conviction resulted in a fine for a traffic violation. In an odd turn of events, local ICE officials have said that the order for Byah’s removal did not come from the Massachusetts office, but the DC headquarters for ICE.
THE BATTLE OF FORT HILL (By Chris Faraone)
Regardless of their motivations, these Roxbury residents are all engaged in a prolonged scrum that connects several hundred years of history and exemplifies how, when it comes to urban development and gentrification, there aren’t always just two sides. Or three sides. Or even four or five.
TOXIC DEVELOPMENT (By Carolyn Bick)
The oil spill is just one of the many issues Iappini and others have endured. Complaints, lawsuits, and strange behavior have made the saga of Summer Street stand out… In a booming city where rents and property costs are comparable to neighboring Boston, Iappini is just one of many who feel that the city of Somerville, its officials, and the developers they favor run roughshod over residents, with little to no direct state oversight.
MACRO AGGRESSIONS (By Eoin Higgins)
Incendiary Pepe the Frog memes, printed out and hung around the office. A Trump Make America Great Again flag covering a large portion of a workspace wall. An image of Bernie Sanders with the word “Cuck” printed over his chest. These are some examples of the environment inside of home security firm SimpliSafe’s shipping warehouse in Charlestown.