An error in judgment; a change in policy

by Frank Schroth

In the past month the Boston Globe has published two stories about Milton politicians, one about Governor Patrick and another about Sentor Joyce. Consistent with our policy of “all things Milton,” we linked to those articles. That was an error in judgment.

To date, MyTownMatters (MTM) has aggregated articles about issues, events, and people related to Milton that appear in other news outlets. This provides broader coverage than we are resourced to cover. In doing this we make two assumptions 1) that established news outlets maintain journalistic integrity and 2) readers understand that the inclusion of these links does not reflect an MTM point of view or endorsement.

The Boston Globe has been a long-trusted source of news, but we find the stories referenced above factually deficient and stylistically vacuous.

Ms. Leung’s article on the Governor opens with the following headline and lede:

“Say Guv, About That Bumpy Road in Town . . .”

“Having the Chief nearby is not cure-all, but it certainly helps”

But the bumpy road referred to, Central Avenue, did not receive help from the Governor. As the reporter states, the work was bonded by the town. The article goes on “. . .many will tell you that they don’t feel the town got any special treatment from the Governor.” The reporter, Shirley Leung, who lives in Milton, admits, “I’m not sure if we in Milton got more than our fair share. . . “

“I’m not sure if we in Milton got more than our fair share. . . ”

– Shirley Leung, reporter

. So why, though no evidence is given of preferential treatment by the governor, does the headline imply the town received preferential treatment from the governor?

Andrea Estes’s front page article, which appeared above the fold last Friday, had the headline,”Senator’s gifts raise ethical concerns.” It fails to specifically identify anyone for whom a concern was raised. Presumably it is the reporter. The lede on this story is, “Some question propriety of deep discount for high-end sunglasses.” Who is questioning the propriety is unclear. The reporter writes, “None (of the senators contacted) said they were concerned they might have violated ethical standards by accepting such a gift from Joyce, though some said privately they thought the gift was too lavish.” One senator contacted didn’t know he’d received the sunglases (an aide took them) and another didn’t understand the value.

Estes writes that elected officials cannot receive gifts over $50. However, she goes on to explain that, “the Ethics Commission in 2010 created an exemption from the $50 limit for gifts given between public officials.” The article calculates that Joyce paid $74.50 a pair.

Estes doesn’t discuss if any other senators may have given gifts in that amount or more. The article closes with a statement from Senator Humason, the Republican whip, saying, “There’s no ethical consideration . . . because these are my friends and people I work with.”

“There’s no ethical consideration . . . because these are my friends and people I work with.”

– Senator Humason

Where is the issue?

Both stories ran with headlines that made claims they failed to substantiate. This is not what we expect from the Globe.

These stories were flawed because they do not support the claims they make. The facts do not substantiate that the Governor gave Milton special treatment or whether Senator Joyce violated any rules. We regret linking to those stories and will exercise better editorial discretion going forward.

The goal remains the same: to avail Milton of news, information, and commentary that matters to to the town and try be a little better tomorrow than we were today.

  8 comments for “An error in judgment; a change in policy

  1. Annie LaVigne
    February 2, 2015 at 11:26 am

    I see your point that these articles lacked substantiation, but I feel that as a reader this is a conclusion I can come to myself. I am very interested in articles relating to Milton published by other news outlets and hope that they won’t now be censored for not saying only positive things.

  2. Frank Schroth
    February 2, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Thanks Annie. I have received additional feedback consistent with your point of view. I welcome and encourage folks to express their thoughts – either here in comments or email me at

    February 2, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    I like MTM links to Milton articles. We can handle the truth & question the “truth”. Also appreciate your comments. Please keep MTM our go to source for Milton news.

  4. Michael Chinman
    February 2, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    A Globe article about Milton is itself newsworthy in Milton. I can’t imagine anybody thought providing a link to those articles was an endorsement of them. If anybody was confused, Frank, your comment (“In my opinion this article is pure poppycock.”) certainly set them straight.

    Thank you for keeping (and continuing to keep) us informed of “all things Milton!”

  5. Terrence McNeil
    February 2, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    I’m glad you post these, Frank, and have never interpreted a mere posting as an endorsement. As for what we expect from the Globe, you must have a higher opinion of their reporting than I do – as their subscriptions plummet, they seem particularly fond of manufacturing political “scandals” by headline and nothing else. I long ago cancelled my subscription, so without your posts, I never would have seen those articles. Keep up the good work!

  6. Frank Schroth
    February 2, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    OK – I get it. These comments along with phone calls and emails I have received have been clear. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  7. Mike Palmer
    February 4, 2015 at 8:05 am

    In your comment to the responses to your new policy, you say” OK
    I get it. ” does that mean you will still link Globe articles and let your
    readers make up their own minds or not?

  8. Frank Schroth
    February 4, 2015 at 10:09 am

    That’s correct Mike. The feedback I received in comments, emails, and phone calls was overwhelmingly in favor of continuing to link to all stories. It appears to be understood that a link to a story does not represent agreement with or endorsement of it.

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