As the trial of gangster James “Whitey” Bulger continues to parade an absolutely shocking – and spellbinding – cast of sociopathic murderers, corrupt FBI agents, slime-bag drug dealers, and assorted low-life vermin through the Federal District Court’s witness stand in Boston this summer, there is a total absence of 21st century media technology present to record & relay events to the public. No live or recorded video. No live or recorded audio. Not even photographs (a 19th century technology, btw).
The Federal courts undoubtedly have some valid reasons (e.g., Nancy Grace) for the technology blackout…not to mention that the Boston FBI and US Attorney Offices are looking almost as bad as Whitey in this one…but when the proceedings turn out to be MUCH better drama than an Oscar-nominated flick like The Departed (Nicholson, Damon, DiCaprio, and Wahlberg pale in comparison to these monsters) pretty much everyone wants to see the action live.
But wait…there’s a loophole in the blackout! The Press contingent is large and has been provided with ample access, work space, and, importantly, bandwidth. Which means, of course, that everything is being jotted down on laptops, iPads, iPhones, and Androids that are connected to the internet. And that means Twitter.
The Twitter feeds from Boston media have been sensational throughout the Bulger trial…almost, but not quite, to the point where the book (Twitter) is as good as the movie (live video). In particular, I’ve enjoyed the work of Alysha Palumbo (NECN), Adam Reilly (WGBH), Shelley Murphy (Boston Globe), and Howie Carr (Boston Herald & renowned Whitey nemesis). Between these folks and other contributors on Twitter’s #bulger, the trial has been brought to life…one grisly murder at a time.
So why has Twitter worked here? Remember those pictures of families in the 30’s & 40’s gathering around console radios in the living room to listen to FDR’s fireside chats or Dragnet or a Jack Dempsey fight? Crazy, right? Wrong. Because those shows were only audio, the listeners had to imagine the video…which means they locked into the audio and created the video in their minds. Same deal with the Twitter feeds from Bulger. Instead of listening or viewing, you’re reading a conversation in real time, as it’s happening, and you create the audio & visual with your imagination. Try it with this paraphrased clip:
- Whitey is wearing a blue T-shirt today.
- The 83 year old defendant is keeping his head down as former disciple Kevin Weeks, tan suit, no tie, describes how Whitey strangled 26 year old Debra Davis.
- I heard a thud and looked over and saw Jim Bulger on the ground choking her.
- KW describing how he and Steven Flemmi take Davis’ body to the basement, strip her, yank her teeth out, and bury her there.
- Another attorney sidebar with Judge Casper underway.
- Hold on – Whitey just grumbled to Weeks, “You suck”, Weeks responded with, “F*** you. Wadda you going to do?”
Get the picture? I’m not sure if Twitter can help sell your company’s products, but it’s doing yeoman’s work in getting the action at Whitey’s trial out to the world. And re: Nancy Grace, I apologize…not for the slam but for actually knowing who she is.