The Boston Globe’s Billy Baker Tweets the News
December 17, 2013
December 17, 2013
In 2011, Boston Globe features writer Billy Baker wrote a series of stories centered around Boston’s 19 bus, which runs though some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. The entire series captures the struggles of the urban poor beautifully and honestly.
One part of the series focused on brothers Johnny and George Huynh, brothers who overcame unimaginable odds to get into Boston Latin and excel. The story of the young boys who support each other as they work to get out of poverty was one of the most powerful installments of the series.
Last night, Baker took to Twitter with an update on George Huynh, who, like many teenagers, was waiting to hear which colleges he’d been accepted to. Baker’s Tweets are below:
Spoiler: George got into Yale.
Cue the overjoyed reaction from Twitter, both for George’s success and Baker’s use of Twitter.
Today, @billy_baker redefined storytelling in real time. If you haven't yet, head over to his Twitter feed and congratulate George.
— Stephanie Steinberg (@Steph_Steinberg) December 17, 2013
To those who think Twitter can never be a vehicle for great journalism, read this guy's entire feed today > @billy_baker (congrats George!)
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 17, 2013
The @BostonGlobe needs to slow it down. We’ve got stuff to do, you know? Incredibly impressive week, and it’s only Monday.
— Dan Kennedy (@dankennedy_nu) December 17, 2013
It is, without a doubt, a compelling series of Tweets. But did Baker put himself in the way of George’s story a bit much while Tweeting? Many of Baker’s Tweets focused on his role in helping the boys—from taking the boys into the Globe printing press to give them a copy of the newspaper that featured their story to helping George write his essays to Yale. What made the original report so moving was that the writer was sharing the struggles and triumphs of the boys without inserting himself into the family’s story.
Boston Globe staff have excelled at using Twitter as a storytelling tool. Reporter David Filipov used 22 Tweets in September to reflect on his father’s death in the 9/11 attacks. While he includes his reaction and reflection on the anniversary of his father’s death, most of the focus remains on the man his father was, not on the younger Filipov.
It’s a totally subjective argument about the delivery of the story—not any dismay about the news that George is well on his way to a better life. Do you agree, or do you think Baker was wise to share his story the way he did? Let us know in the comments or at @solomonmccown.