Scrolling Headlines:

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

UMass basketball adds Rutgers transfer Jonathan Laurent -

May 13, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse gets revenge on Colorado, beat Buffs 13-7 in NCAA Tournament First Round -

May 13, 2017

Meg Colleran dominates as UMass softball tops Saint Joseph’s, advances in A-10 tournament -

May 12, 2017

Rain keeps UMass softball from opening tournament play; Minutewomen earn A-10 honors -

May 11, 2017

Former UMass football wide receiver Tajae Sharpe accused of assault in lawsuit -

May 10, 2017

Justice Gorsuch can save the UMass GEO -

May 10, 2017

Minutemen third, Minutewomen finish fifth in Atlantic 10 Championships for UMass track and field -

May 8, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse wins A-10 title for ninth straight season -

May 8, 2017

Dayton takes two from UMass softball in weekend series -

May 8, 2017

Towson stonewalls UMass men’s lacrosse in CAA Championship; Minutemen season ends after 9-4 loss -

May 6, 2017

Zach Coleman to join former coach Derek Kellogg at LIU Brooklyn -

May 5, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse advances to CAA finals courtesy of Dan Muller’s heroics -

May 4, 2017

On campus: The liberal assault on free speech -

May 4, 2017

Forever 23

According to some Western Mass. newspapers, Jason Vassell has been a 23-year-old for about 13 months now. Some say his case is making people think twice about police misconduct even in places so progressive as Amherst. But local media has me looking again at his age.

Most reporters, when determining the age of a victim or an assailant (the identity of Vassell in this incident is debated) check for his birthday in an arrest report. After some elementry arithmetic, the age becomes solid fact.
The issue came up in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian’s newsroom. We were writing our pieces and helping the Boston Globe with its. The Globe asked if Vassell is 23 or 24 years old. Good question.

As Vassell’s case stretched on for a year, reporters neglected to return to primary source documents to retrieve his age. Papers have repeatedly reported his age at 23, when he has been 24 since May 9.
Goes to show that in a complicated case like this, some reporters are reading their stories, or others’, for background info instead of reporting again.



One Response to “Forever 23”
  1. Derrick says:

    It’s an easy habit to slip into, especially when you’re a writer covering the same beat for a period of time. Eventually you understand the different storylines, issues and backgrounds to the point where you don’t even think about verifying what you write.

    That’s a good catch on your part and nice to see that the Globe is double-checking what others might consider common knowledge.

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