Flashbacks: October 13, 2006

By FLASHBACKS  |  October 11, 2006

“His crime — the thing that has turned his life into a waking nightmare — is his unswerving determination to bring affirmative action to the engineering division of Amtrak Boston’s commuter rail.”

Boys club | 15 years ago | October 11, 1991 | Mark Jurkowitz reported that some Globe employees were fed up with Metro editor Ben Bradlee Jr’s handling of the newsroom.
 “These days, the biggest story at the Boston Globe is not the Kevin Fitzgerald inheritance saga. It is not the percolating 1992 presidential campaign. It is whether Metro editor Ben Bradlee Jr. will continue to play in Globe pick-up basketball games.

“ ‘The basketball game,’ says Bradlee, ‘has attained ridiculously high symbolic status in the newsroom. All it is really is a bunch of people who want to get exercise and play a game. In the current conspiracy that’s abroad, it’s me and the other editors perhaps cutting secret deals and giving the boys the best stories.’ In fact, in the Byzantine world of Globe politics, the game — which has been going on for years — has now become a lightning rod for the controversy surrounding the paper’s Metro editor.

“Critics charge that the 43-year-old Bradlee is an arrogant, insensitive manager who has unfairly relegated big chunks of the newsroom — including women and minorities — to second-string status. To them, the sweaty, mostly male hoop game (only basketball writer Jackie MacMullan shatters the gender barrier) is a symbol of the exclusionary new old-boy network he is forging.

“That issue has the troops roiling. One detractor says the staff has never been this polarized. Muriel Cohen, the veteran education reporter, who recently helped bring matters to a head by confronting editor Jack Driscoll and Bradlee with her complaints about a ‘macho newsroom,’ says, ‘It had reached the point where the newsroom had grown intolerable. And I thought I’d be the one to do something about it.’ ”

Comfort inn | 20 years ago | October 14, 1986 | Gary Provost lauded the diners of Worcester county.
“Imagine this. A sunny New England morning. A bit of a nip in the air. It’s early. You’ve been walking, haven’t had breakfast yet. You look around for a place to eat. And there, across the street, with a bright-red porcelain front and chrome railings, is . . . a diner. The authentic article. Not McDonald’s, not Wendy’s, not some synthetic family-style restaurant that looks as if it were built with Legos.

“You climb the three steps on either side of the long boxcar restaurant. You step inside, greeted by the patter of workingmen who can’t believe the Red Sox blew that game last night, the ‘Hi, what’ll you have?’ of a waitress who looks like Jessica Lange, and a symphony of saucers and silver being gently dropped on the marble counter. You sit on a stool, twirl around a few times for the hell of it, and inhale the aroma of coffee brewing in a shiny, nickel-plated urn. And you order breakfast. What could be more comforting? This isn’t just a place to eat. This is home. And Massachusetts is home to the diner.

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