WHAV Website Readers Pick ‘Joy’ Filming as 2015 Top Story

An artist paints "Charlie’s Hardware" lettering in the window of a Washington Street building.

A Washington Street restaurant receives a Hollywood makeover.

A Washington Street restaurant receives a Hollywood makeover.

WHAV’s April 9 story, “Hollywood Comes to Downtown Haverhill Next Week,” was website readers top news story pick for 2015, based on clicks, “likes” and comments.

The story (found at https://whav.net/hollywood-comes-to-downtown-haverhill-next-week/) told of then-unconfirmed reports downtown Washington Street would be closed to traffic to allow filming of director David O. Russell’s presentation of “Joy.” WHAV was the first to break the story about the biographical comedy-drama that went on to use Washington Street downtown as star Jennifer Lawrence’s backdrop for certain scenes.

Similarly, the movie earned the fifth top spot in readers’ minds when WHAV published “Mayor Calls ‘Joy’ Movie Crew ‘Rude’ as Residents Turned Away” April 15. In that story (found at https://whav.net/mayor-calls-joy-movie-crew-rude-as-residents-turned-away/), Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini commented on complaints residents were turned away from the set.

“Yes, but the movie company was rude,” Fiorentini said in a post responding to public compliments on Haverhill’s role as a host city to the film production. “I tried. They won’t do autographs and would not even allow the public, their customers, to watch.”

The WHAV story ultimately generated 33 comments, including a response from a “grip,” who worked on the set.

“Dear Mr. Mayor and residents, no one was being rude that I saw. However we did put up privacy frames so as not to be disturbed. We understood the chaos that a film shoot can cause and willingly gave up our lunch break so as not to disturb your town any longer than was needed to get our shots. The production also paid for many of the empty storefronts, and paid top dollar for those as well as the businesses that were affected. I believe the quote from the Globe was “one week of sales for ten hours of closing.” The cast had had their phones hacked into in recent memory and was quite rightly a little shy these days. I’m very sorry you didn’t get to get a selfie but they were working,” said the commented who identified himself as Mike Geoghegan.

Large Number of Drug Arrests Catches Attention

Readers’ pick for the number two WHAV story of the year was “Haverhill Police Make 19 Drug Arrests Wednesday in Citywide Sweep” (https://whav.net/haverhill-police-make-18-drug-arrests-wednesday-in-citywide-sweep/), aired and published exclusively by WHAV Oct. 15. The news reported, “A police sting Wednesday netted 18 Haverhill residents and a Lawrence man on various drug-dealing charges within an 11-hour time span in neighborhoods including Mount Washington and the lower Acre.”

Third top story was another WHAV exclusive, “Commission Shutters Haverhill Concert Hall After Patron ‘Left for Dead’” (https://whav.net/commission-shutters-haverhill-concert-hall-after-patron-left-for-dead/). It told of a decision by the Haverhill License Commission not to renew an entertainment license for Anchors Up, 58 River St. Police testified a patron of the business was beaten and “left for dead in a puddle of blood.”

“After being lured away from the concert, the victim was then jumped by a group of four thugs and beaten to within inches of his life,” Detective Joseph Benedetti told commissioners. According to a police report, the victim’s “face was bashed in and blood was leaking out of his ears. He spent two months in the hospital “fighting for his life,” police said. Captain Robert P. Pistone said the club’s owner, Austin Sparkman of Haverhill was uncooperative during the investigation.

Readers React to Exclusive Story About Woman Who Died Following Alleged Domestic Assault

Matthew Church, 33, of Georgetown, at his arraignment in Haverhill District Court.

Matthew Church, 33, of Georgetown, at his arraignment in Haverhill District Court.

The fourth top story—and the one generating the most reader comments—was another WHAV exclusive, “Georgetown Man Held Without Bail Following Wife’s Death” (https://whav.net/georgetown-man-held-without-bail-following-wifes-death/). WHAV reporters covered the arraignment of Matthew Church, 33, of Georgetown, who was charged with assault and battery on his wife who later died.

According to Essex Assistant District Attorney Kim Faitella, an investigation was sparked by a telephone call Church made to his probation officer who, in turn, notified Georgetown police. Faitella told Judge Stephen S. Abany Church reported the victim fell and hit her chin on a sink after she had been drinking. However, police found the victim was not under the influence but did suffer other bruises to her arms, legs and back. She refused an emergency medical team’s suggestion to be hospitalized for concern of possible serious internal injury. Police found the victim dead during a return call.

The Sept. 2 story generated 49 comments.

WHAV’s Top Commenters

The top five contributors to WHAV’s reader comments were:

  1. “Jack Haverhill” (242 comments)
  2. Duncan Burns (178 comments)
  3. “Freddie” (172 comments)
  4. “SlipperCity” (97 comments)
  5. “Rich” (84 comments)

WHAV Website Attracts 4.5 Million Visits During December

During the past month, WHAV’s website has remained popular with 4.5 million new and repeat visits. At the website, users may read stories or tune in to WHAV’s audio streams and listen. WHAV still plans to launch a new FM radio station once local permits are granted and donations to the non-profit effort are sufficient to purchase transmitting equipment. Those who wish to contribute may visit the “Make Waves—Bring Local News to FM” donation page.

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