In case you missed it (or, if I wanted to be hip, ICYMI) the Keene Pumpkin Festival in Keene, NH, got a little rowdy this year. The family-oriented event, which annually aims to possess the Guinness World Record of most lit jack-o-lanterns, quickly turned to a mass riot with hundreds of people filling the streets and destroying anything in sight. Overly dramatic? Maybe. But watch these videos of the riots and police deploying tear gas on crowds of primarily Keene State College students and then decide.
Just under 2 hours away from Keene, Boston took particular interest in the wild events in the small New England town. Reports from two primary news organizations, Boston.com and The Boston Globe, used similar content produced by overlapping writers and photographers, but the results highlighted the differences between citizen-journalist and crowd sourced coverage and reporters. The media outlets are owned by the same company but play very different roles. As referenced in a previous blog post, the Globe is much more interested in balanced, objective news coverage, whereas Boston.com is lighter and has more of a multi-interest blog vibe.
The Globe posted a statement released from Keene State College, which I have not yet seen on other news sources. The Globe also boasted “A first-hand account of Saturday’s events” in which the reporter painted a vignette of one young man’s experience at the Keene Pumpkin Festival. The pieces posted with the coverage seemed more well researched by including links to videos of comedians that mentioned the excessive machinery owned by Keene police.
Boston.com posted an initial article about the riots in Keene and continued to update the post as new information was released. On Sunday, more content was posted discussing arrests made during and after the riots and an event organizer who “loses cool over riots” on live broadcast. With the popularity of social media to tell one’s own life story, the pieces about the riots were often accompanied by images taken from Twitter or Instagram posted on personal accounts. In addition to the social media content, articles linked to livestream videos and primary sources. An opinion piece by Luke O’Neil, labeled as “Special to Boston.com,” posted Monday morning added analysis to the reports and attempted to identify why the annual Pumpkin Festival quickly escalated.
The organizations utilized multimedia to convey their stories in ways fitting with their style. The Globe created a gallery of photos taken primarily by Globe Correspondent Jeremy C. Fox and Globe Staff Dina Rudick. The images were photographs; poised, with intent to tell a story. Images used by Boston.com were more often crowd sourced, unedited, and raw. You weren’t watching college students clean up broken glass; you were there as people ripped signs out of the ground. You were laughing as drunk college kids said dumb things and danced in a mosh pit. You were running from the tear gas thrown police threw at you.
The reporting from Boston.com felt more rushed and desperate to find information, while the Boston Globe’s reporting seemed more filtered. However, the Globe was also polished and after-the-fact, while Boston.com’s was more immediate and uncensored. As social media and use of the public’s content becomes more common place, differences between older and newer methods of reporting on events will continue to widen.