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Updated: August 21, 2023 From the Editor

From the Editor: The 40 Under Forty awards have been postponed

When I saw an ambulance pull up to the parking lot following WBJ’s 40 Under Forty photo shoot in July, I was initially more puzzled than alarmed.

WBJ editor Brad Kane at his desk
WBJ Editor Brad Kane

We had just wrapped up our four-hour, winners-only reception, an annual gathering where the soon-to-be honorees meet before they are officially announced as the 40 Under Forty in one of our August editions. The reception provides us the opportunity to take everyone’s portrait for their awards profile and helps set the tone for the special edition and subsequent ceremony, which are designed as fun, slightly zany ways to celebrate up-and-coming professionals and the youthful exuberance they bring to the Central Massachusetts business community. The 40 Under Forty awards ceremony, typically held in September, is WBJ’s biggest event of the year, and it and the awards edition have grown in such scope and complexity, the entire project is produced over a six-month period and takes hundreds of hours for our team to put together.

That summer day when we held this year's photo shoot had been particularly hot and rainy, so when I saw the ambulance pull into the parking lot at the end of the night, I thought someone had gotten overwhelmed from the weather and needed some kind medical attention. Instead, what I and the rest of WBJ’s staff learned in the following days and weeks has been far more alarming.

During that July reception, there was an assault, and the police are actively investigating the incident. WBJ is fully cooperating with the police, providing whatever the investigators need in their efforts, which at this point includes not disclosing any more details. The safety of our event attendees is paramount to WBJ’s core values, and we are dumbfounded, outraged, and devastated this happened.

Given the seriousness of the matter and the ongoing police investigation, we at WBJ – in a decision made by Publisher Peter Stanton, Events Manager Kris Prosser, and myself – have postponed the publication of the 40 Under Forty and the subsequent awards ceremony. Originally slated to be announced in this Aug. 21 edition of WBJ followed by a Sept. 13 ceremony, everything is being pushed to still unspecified dates. We remain committed to honoring the Class of 2023 members in all their glory, but now our top priorities are supporting in every way possible the person most impacted by the assault, as well as assisting the police in the investigation. Everything else seems trivial.

On top of the outrage and devastation, I remain completely shocked this happened at any event, forget one of ours. Kris Prosser and I have been saying to each other phrases like, “Never before in all our years has something like this happened.” Unfortunately, that likely isn’t true. As we discovered in talking to people more experienced in this type of situation, this type of incident is far too common in business settings and has certainly occurred at other events, including ours and other events in our community, except the statistics show only a tiny percentage are reported to police. Our eyes have been opened to a dark undercurrent in our society most would prefer not to discuss openly.

As journalists and a media organization, we are firm in our commitment to bring these topics out of the shadows. We plan to do this comprehensively, transparently, and sensitively. Yet, with the incident from our July event still under investigation, now is not the appropriate time to do so. These are conversations that need to be had, and they will be had.

Some alarm bells are hard to hear, but this one is ringing in our ears. We all need to learn how to recognize the sound and be able to respond.

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Steven Jones D''agostino
August 22, 2023

I'm sorry for aĺl victims of this event hope all goes well for all of them. If the rumor mill/fake news actors start cranking out true and/or false information, does WBJ have a plan to address the matter either publicly or privately?

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