I don’t only complain about our stories getting stolen out of conceit and contempt for large news organizations. Sure, I think our work is excellent, and cutting edge, and of course I loathe the gutless Boston Globe. But the primary reason that I speak up is to remind people that not all journalists write the first draft of history, as the old media adage goes; rather, critical topics and stories are typically dredged up in the first place by the grassroots and community reporters who comb streets and city halls around the state.
In the past two weeks alone, the Dig has been excited to see several stories that we first dug into, in some cases with help from the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, that have since been picked up by the larger mainstream media. There were international headlines about a judge, in a seemingly unprecedented move, ruling that the actions of people arrested for protesting the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline were necessary; we covered that story at length in 2015, back when few others would touch it. We were also pleased to see an article about the move to close a loophole in Mass law that could potentially protect police officers who sexually assault perps, though it would have been nice if the Globe gave us credit for identifying said loophole in the first place.
Furthermore, there are stories like those about Big City, an unlicensed Roxbury and Dorchester radio station that was recently shuttered, yet again, by the Federal Communications Commission Enforcement Bureau; those looking for background on that front will find our 2016 feature, “Too Legit To Quit,” in which Basim Usmani profiled the talented and dedicated community activists behind the frequency. And of course, it has been great to watch all the attention media of all kinds has paid to one Michael C. Doherty, the Boston cop who was recently found guilty of assaulting an Uber driver and more. Here’s an excerpt from our original 2015 story:
With the car stopped at E 2nd and M Street, the report says “the suspect began hitting the victim.” The Uber driver said he then removed his seatbelt and exited the vehicle, only for the suspect to begin “chasing the victim around the motor vehicle.”
Once outside the stolen taxi, the suspect “approached both the victim and the male assisting and stated to the black male ‘[What] do you want you fucking nigger’ and began swinging at both parties.”
I’m not just bragging about scoops here. I bring up these examples because in some cases, such as with Uber cop, whose crime the Boston Police Department attempted to hide before someone leaked us the incident report, this stuff may have never been reported in the first place. In other cases, like with the natural gas mess in West Roxbury, we went in and wrote that historical first draft that bigger outlets can reference and build on.
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CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.