Autumn played a cruel joke on me this week when the Springfield police announced that they would be scrambling all radio transmissions starting almost immediately and that, therefore, scanners would no longer be of any value for monitoring police conversations. When I was 12 my dad got a Bearcat scanner for Christmas. The red lights were always pulsating as it monitored the 5 or 6 frequencies my father monitored. It was fun to watch. I found the garbled conversations unintelligible.
I have a scanner app on my phone I’ve used two or three times when I’ve noticed crazy levels of police behavior in my neighborhood. I won’t really miss being able to use it, but reading the response in articles…and in comments on their own articles…of Masslive/Republican reporters AND editors to the, let’s face it, elimination of their livelihood was beyond amusing. They called for transparency, they railed against secrecy, the clamored for the public’s right to know…because their business model is 1) Wait for a call on the police scanner 2) Go to the scene, take pictures and interview neighbors who know nothing about what happened and ask them how scared they are that “this” could happen in their neighborhood 3) Wait for the SPD press release and update the story 4) Repeat ad nauseum.
Masslive’s Cash Cow
Which is why at a time when crime is down by more than half since the 80’s crime reporting is at an all time high in local media relative to other news. Other news, real “news”, actual “news”, not just the predictable occurrence of bad behavior in an enormous city (one of the most populous in a nation of thousands and thousands of cities and towns) which contains concentrations of poverty in a country where guns are sacrosanct, is at what may be an all time low in the history of The Republican. I delivered the paper at a time when the crime rate was more than double what it is now and I don’t ever recall a simple stabbing or a mugging being given featured “above the fold” treatment on the front page or the local section.
The local media is like the idiot who only looks for his missing wallet by the street lamp because that is where the light is good.
I was looking forward to seeing what all of the local media outlets, TV included, would do to fill time and space without the equivalent of ripping and reading from the SPD police scanner. What would fill the void? Would they actually do more real reporting? Would they just turn to non encrypted suburban and rural police chatter until they scramble their transmissions?
Sadly, we’ll never know. Probably because of what they could see was going to be a media onslaught the mayor and police commissioner agreed to provide scanners to local media which could decrypt local police dispatch and communications on the primary frequency, this despite a overall *yawn* of collective support from local politicians and the public.
Masslive gets to keep pretending things are worse than ever despite all the evidence to the contrary. It’s a stupid business model mind you, akin to eating your seed corn, the way they constantly undermine the progress of the economic engine of the region from which their revenue derives. So be it. Let the games continue.