By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The Globe’s non-trend story

Slate’s Jack Shafer debunks a Boston Globe story on an alleged increase in girl-on-girl violence. The clue, hiding in plain sight: a subhead that reads, “Despite police statistics, violence causing worries.” In fact, Shafer points out, the evidence suggests that such incidents are actually decreasing.

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  1. Harry

    Good find, Dan.This story looks like a conclusion in search of supporting evidence, and undeterred by the lack of same.When a conflict occurs between 2 interviewees who are “street workers, and youth advocates” vs. police department statistics, to whom does the Globe give higher credibility? Why?If the Globe had a serious Ombudsman, it would be interesting to research the genesis of bogus stories like this one. They are indicative of a very broken process, I believe.

  2. Amusedbutinformedobserver

    Rule number one about media critics: Ignore them when they use words such as “lame,” the pejorative of choice among seventh-grade debaters.The Globe piece is an anecdotally supported story in which “youth advocates say girls in the city are becoming increasingly vicious when they fight in groups and assault each other.” These are people on the front lines, people involved in street-level counseling of girls most at risk.Apparently Mr. Shafer is of the opinion that if it doesn’t rise to the level of a reported crime, it can be safely ignored — or worse that it doesn’t happen. Street fights are often not crime statistics precisely because the combatants are out to settle things among and between themselves.Indeed, by Shafer’s analysis, lynching was never a problem in the south in the decades after Reconstruction because blacks didn’t file reports with county sheriff and thereby create “crime statistics.” We don’t even go near what his analysis would mean in a historical look at World War II Germany.Media critics, too, should understand the use and abuse of headlines; an unfortunate headline does not “bogusity” make (whatever that means; perhaps he meant bogosity or worse, perhaps this critic of what he sees as made-up trends is now making up words, the use of “bogusity” by an LAPD flak hardly qualifying it as acceptable)

  3. R. Scott Buchanan

    Okay, I’m calling BS on the anecdotal evidence because I can’t stand Amusedbutinformedobserver’s violation of Godwin’s Law. If there was an increase in the viciousness of girl-on-girl violence in Boston, even if there were no increase in police reports, there should be a measurable increase in either the raw number of ER visits, or in the severity and/or number of wounds the girls are presenting, and any good reporter worth his or her salt should have checked those records, too. It defies belief that a surge in knife and razor fights would fail to result in such an increase in medical treatment, and yet the article presented no such evidence, only anecdotes. As a duly skeptical consumer of news, I have to assume that Ms. Cramer would have included evidence supporting her central thesis had she any to present. Thus, I’m left to conclude that all she has are anecdotes, and frankly those don’t convince me of anything.

  4. Rick in Duxbury

    Wow,”AmusedBIO” or Jack Shafer of Slate. Who to believe? I’ll go WAAY out on a limb and reckon that Jack engages in agenda journalism just a teeny bit less than the local Newspaper of Record. Sad reality is that when the Globe actually does perform good work, it gets lost in the fumes of dreck like this. “Crying ‘wolf'” and all that….

  5. Amusedbutinformedobserver

    No violation of Godwin’s Law at all. I called no one a Nazi, nor was anyone compared to Nazis. .The criticism of an article that says girls are being more vicious when they beat each other up is based on crime statistics. The point I made is that reported statistics are not, and can not, be the only way to report trends — especially among inner city youth who don’t consider the police to be their friends — and that prime examples of violent behavior that was never “reported” through official complaint-making channels historically includes racial lynchings and genocide. They happened, but they didn’t show up in the cop log; our critic seems to suggest that if it’s not on an official record somewhere, it didn’t happen. That’s absurd.

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