Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s soccer look to surprise the Atlantic 10 conference for the second consecutive season -

September 30, 2016

Third and 20 S2 Episode 8 -

September 29, 2016

Author, poet and ex-con gives talk on criminal justice reform -

September 29, 2016

Israeli writer Ari Shavit speaks at Integrative Learning Center -

September 29, 2016

Alex DeSantis continues strong play for UMass men’s soccer as season reaches midway point -

September 29, 2016

Andrew Ford looks to continue to lead UMass football’s torrid offensive passing attack -

September 29, 2016

Sunset Grill and Pizza adjusts as a new restaurant in Amherst -

September 29, 2016

UMass field hockey falls 8-1 to No. 1 UConn -

September 29, 2016

Offensive-oriented practices hold high hopes for UMass women’s soccer with A-10 opener Thursday -

September 29, 2016

Hyper-stress on college campuses: a culture of high achievement leads to increased rates of mental illnesses -

September 29, 2016

Race of candidates should not affect voter turnout -

September 29, 2016

Students share what keeps them happy during the fall -

September 29, 2016

Harvest’s millennial-pandering replacement to Chameleon Cold Brew leaves caffeine fans at a loss -

September 29, 2016

Guide to fall 5K races and beyond -

September 29, 2016

UMass Votes Coalition hosts voter registration event -

September 28, 2016

Brettell presents on U.S. immigration policies -

September 28, 2016

UMass field hockey team seeks revenge against undefeated UConn -

September 28, 2016

UMass running back Marquis Young looks to build off momentum gained against Mississippi State -

September 28, 2016

UMass hockey announces captains for 2016-17 season -

September 28, 2016

Andy Isabella finds his niche within the UMass football offense -

September 28, 2016

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.

 

…Wm

Comments
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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