I will begin this election week column by sincerely thanking those who have been blasting me and DigBoston on Twitter and elsewhere for abstaining from any formal endorsement of Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson in his race against Mayor Marty Walsh. The passion of these activists and readers shows us just how much a lot of people care about and pay attention to our noisy rag, and I assure you every tweet checking our stances and positions adds more fuel to our bonfire, and pushes us to further highlight slept-on issues that voters, in Boston and beyond, should consider this and every election season.
We’re still not going to endorse Jackson, or any candidate in any race. While the Dig did regrettably back Walsh in his initial bid for mayor four years ago, that was one of the only times we’ve ever done so, and frankly we no longer believe that we should be in the endorsement business. For a lot of reasons, but mainly because our coverage speaks for itself. Unlike certain newspapers of record, we don’t pretend for a second that there are two worthy sides to all stories. Instead, we amplify the voices of the sides that aren’t heard. Tenants, as opposed to developers, for example. Basically, I hope most people realize that the reporting we do is far more important than any superficial endorsement.
With that said, of course I have some pointed feelings about the Boston mayoral race (as well as the mayoral race in Somerville, where we won’t be endorsing either). These are critical, even exciting times, with the potential to shape everything from housing policy to pedagogy. As is emphasized in Dig pieces this week about topics ranging from cannabis, to housing and homelessness, to race, it’s clear that there are stark important differences between Jackson and Walsh. And despite what some of the councilor’s supporters have alleged, I am more than happy to concede—hell, it should be obvious—that I sympathize much more with Jackson on virtually every issue.
More than anything, I hope Dig readers understand that we work hard to look past press releases. A lot of other outlets simply parrot whichever campaign hollers loudest. With City Hall resources at his disposal on top of a bloated campaign budget, the powers behind Walsh regularly crank out press releases that then get passed off as policy wins by lazy reporters. In the past month alone, the city has touted everything from how Walsh is creating an “action plan to to end youth homelessness,” to the administration issuing a “request for proposals to design and conduct a disparity study,” to an award for “$400,000 in community benefits for Roxbury organizations,” to a “digital equity fund,” and so on.
All that hype aside, when Walsh says things like, “We have to continue to work with the state and the city to transfer land,” as he did at a candidate forum last month, I hear that he will give away more valuable property to leeches. And when the mayor boasts about “big opportunities, like bringing GE to Boston,” I can’t hear much over my own gagging. Contrarily, I believe Jackson when he says, “I will be an advocate for working- and middle-class people.” He speaks about inequity, especially as far as BPS goes, with not only passion but detail. My team respects and appreciates that; so much, in fact, that unlike most news producers and editors around here, we decided to cover this race in a deep and meaningful way.
Frankly, I couldn’t think of a better endorsement.
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.