you’ll likely recall, is the 24-year-old subway driver from Attleboro
who — moments after text-messaging his girlfriend on the evening of May
8 — crashed a Green Line train into another near the MBTA’s Government
Center stop, injuring roughly 50 passengers and causing an estimated
$9.6 million in damages. The accident dominated the Boston news for
days and prompted the announcement, on May 13, of a no-cell-phones
policy for the T’s drivers; it also led to Quinn’s firing.
Given Quinn’s admission that he was, in fact,
texting prior to the accident, there’s a general consensus that he’s a
dumbass. But there’s no such agreement among the Boston media as to
whether his switch from identifying as a woman to a man was germane to
the larger story.
seemed certain that it was. On May 11, for example, WFXT-TV (Fox 25)
made Quinn’s gender switch the lead fact of a Web story about his
background (ahead of his driving record, which includes at least three
speeding tickets — apparently he’s a bad car driver, too) and played it
up on Twitter. TheBoston Herald took a similarly
sensationalistic approach. On May 12, the tabloid highlighted Quinn’s
identity switch, calling him “stocky” for good measure — and the next
day’s paper boasted threemore references, including a
sniggering Howie Carr column and a news-you-just-might-use piece on
transgender protocol (“Sex Change a Simple Switch at RMV”) by reporter
“We knew very early of his transgender status, and we thought very hard about including it,” explainsGlobe
metro editor Brian McGrory. “It’s certainly a provocative part of his
personal history, but the question we asked was, ‘Was it relevant to
the crash itself?’ And we couldn’t determine that it was.
we asked, ‘Was it worth using at all?’ ” adds McGrory. “We determined
that — because he’s a person in the news, and because many of the facts
that we were getting about him involved his driving record, and it was
right there on his driving record that he was transgender — the proper
thing to do was point it out, but not play it up particularly high in
WHAT? That’s their excuse? It was in his driving record?
If it wasn’t relevant to the story, why was it worth using? It was right there on his driving record how much he weighed, did you use that? How about his eye color? Was he an organ donor? Seriously, this is really fucking stupid. If you’re going to be sensationalistic and mean at least do it without hesitation, put your shoulder into it. Don’t pull this dodge of “Well, we thought long and hard about it and talked it over with everybody including our shrinks and psychics and then we decided to be total assholes, but only because we HAD TO, and not because we were all repeating ‘he-she’ to ourselves in the office and giggling. It was out there, man, what else could we do?”
You hear this all the time when reporters and editors are questioned about their story choices. Somebody else did it, so we had to follow. It’s a “phenomenon” or “everybody’s talking about it.” Seriously, so fucking what? Sack up, have those editorial standards you like to cant about so much on weekend panels, and decide not to be such giant douchebags today. Or else just admit you’re not that different from all those irresponsible gossip rags and bloggers you run down all the time but seem all too eager to emulate.
Schmucks via Romenesko.