I really appreciated your recent post on the LaGuer case. You have been one the few people in the media (there are others) to take the extremely troubling revelations about the case to heart and then be willing to speak up. As for your comments on the LaGuer Web site I’ve been managing for four years, I agree with you. You said:
I do think the LaGuer webpage (for instance) needs to have an “elevator speech” that one lands on immediately upon getting to the site: A *very* brief, snappy, bullet-pointed summary of *only* the most compelling facts in the case. And then one could “drill down” deeper to get more information.
Goldscheider (e.g.) has indeed done amazingly comprehensive work in the case, and that’s extremely important. But as a matter of communicating with the public at large, you need to provide the Cliff’s Notes version, too.
Thanks for the compliment. By way of explanation, let me say that I am a journalist not only by profession, but by temperament as well. I’ve never gotten excited about being a campaigner or a publicist for causes. But that is what LaGuer needs now. My approach to the Web site from the start was to load it up with primary material – especially court filings and decisions – so that it could be a resource to other journalists interested in writing on the case. I have never owned the site. It was created by a friend of LaGuer’s in California who then shared the password with me so that I could add content. I did post my name as “editor” at one point because I thought it important for reasons of transparency and accountability.
As lolorb correctly picked up on, I am pulling back from my involvement with the Web site. In other words, there is a need for a new editor and it occurs to me that someone from the blogosphere might want to take over. If anyone reading this is interested in taking this on you should write to:
P.O. Box 8000
Shirley, MA 01464
You might also want to consider arranging a visit. It’s easy to do. Find all the information HERE. Managing the content on the site is easy and takes very little in the way of technical skills. It is hosted at DomainDirect.com. The site provides a very intuitive platform for managing content.
There is also growing grassroots support for LaGuer. John Hosty (who posts to BMG) and Susan Wadia-Ells, a women’s health activist who has taken this case very much to heart, have organized a Free Ben LaGuer NOW! committee. Wadia-Ells has negotiated with Community Change in Cambridge to administer a bank account for the committee and she says she already has some donors lined up. This is the release she recently put out:
For immediate release April 26, 2007
From: Susan Wadia-Ells & John Hosty:
The Free Ben LaGuer NOW! Committee
We are currently working with Community Change of Boston, to raise $10,000 to help defray recent, current and future expenses involved in developing and maintaining a Web site; to defray the expenses of a number of volunteers, now working with Ben on a daily to weekly basis; to keep public involvement in the case alive, along with expenses involved in calling for expert DNA witnesses to testify at upcoming hearings and trial.
Please make your contributions to Ben LaGuer Committee, and send them to:
14 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108
For more information on the Committee’s work, please contact Susan Wadia-Ells, (978) 526-8702 or email@example.com.
Adam Reilly, in his recent article about me captured my current mood well. I’ll continue to write and comment on the case, but I am returning to my journalistic roots. While I liked Adam’s article, it was missing an important and, I think, quite interesting element. He knew it and told me that he wished he had the luxury of writing a longer piece. That element has to do with the line between reporting and advocacy. I may write more on that. But the basic point is that the evidence I gathered clearly shows that LaGuer should be adjudicated legally innocent. There were so many easily demonstrable problems with the conviction (hidden evidence, official lies, and contradictions in logic) that, the jury’s verdict notwithstanding, the commonwealth failed in its task of proving him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence I gathered convincingly suggests that he is also factually innocent. But I have always said, that should be something for a new jury to decide. So my quandary, once I gathered this information, was that I couldn’t find an outlet for it. Editors I had worked with on other stories had closed their minds based on the DNA result. So I started to go beyond reporting (which I did a lot of) and go directly to lawyers, politicians, DNA experts, and others in a position to further the legal case. I also used the Internet to publicize what I had come to see as a grave injustice. Having said all this, the emergence of Blue Mass Group (for the record, I also blogged pretty heavily in some right of center forums – here, for example) was a breath of fresh air. I created my BMG account on June 4 of last year, linking it to my Gmail address, which is the same as my name. It allowed me to just write about the case exactly as I saw it and to respond to fellow blogger’s questions as they came up. Up with blogs.
The take away message is that BenLaGuer.com is in need of a new Web master. If no one takes up the reins I expect it will remain in place as a static entity until someone comes along. To those who might be interested, it needn’t be time consuming if you don’t want it to be. It will require doing some research on the case and getting to know Ben LaGuer, the person. If you think you might be interested, write to him and let him know. New energy and a fresh tone will probably be a very good thing.
I would just say that a really concise sum-up of the case only makes sense if the entire story rings true. That’s a tribute to what you’ve done.
I’m going to pass on taking over the site, since I’ve already got one. But it’s a good project for someone who wants to do something significant and right.
So, what’s the next step for LaGuer, legally?
I am quite sure LaGuer has legal options. But I don’t want to presuppose what they are. I agree with you that managing the Web site would be
I may try to put a summary statement together. There is almost 24 years of history there and different issues have been most germane at different times. But going back to look at the events surrounding the crime with the benefit of things we have learned since (in bullet form) would be useful.