Scrolling Headlines:

Campus Climate survey shows strong response -

December 7, 2016

Jennifer Carlson gives talk on race and gun law enforcement -

December 7, 2016

Labor Center to receive increased funding from University -

December 7, 2016

Verdi enforces playing a full 40 minutes as UMass takes on Hofstra -

December 7, 2016

Mulligan looks to continue seven game double-double streak at Hofstra -

December 7, 2016

Jesus: the conservative Republican -

December 7, 2016

The joy of Snapchat -

December 7, 2016

Don’t let hate defeat debate -

December 7, 2016

‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ remains the defining holiday classic -

December 7, 2016

A Tribe Called Quest bid its fans a thoughtful farewell -

December 7, 2016

Amherst residents rally against Dakota pipeline in water ceremony outside TD Bank -

December 6, 2016

Laura Reed discusses nuclear disarmament under Obama Administration -

December 6, 2016

SGA President announces opening of vice president position -

December 6, 2016

Four UMass divers qualify for NCAA Tournament at Bucknell Invitational this weekend -

December 6, 2016

Top 25 Basketball Notebook: UCLA pulls off major upset over Kentucky -

December 6, 2016

College football playoff seeds came out Sunday; Alabama gets top seed -

December 6, 2016

UMass club hockey comes out of travel weekend 1-1-1 -

December 6, 2016

Notebook: UMass men’s basketball guard Luwane Pipkins among nation’s best in steals -

December 6, 2016

Listen when you argue to truly understand -

December 6, 2016

Letter to the Editor: local veterans on Hampshire flag burning -

December 6, 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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