No, you didn’t pick up the wrong newspaper.
With thousands of visitors streaming onto the Island this week to celebrate Jawsfest, the Vineyard Gazette is publishing this commemorative edition today under the name of its fictional alter ego from the movie sensation, Jaws. Not that we aspire to its journalistic ethics.
In the classic 1975 thriller that scared the wits out of a generation of beachgoers, the Amity Gazette — modeled on the Vineyard Gazette — kept the news of a shark attack out of the newspaper. Worse still, its editor, Harry Meadows, played by the main screenwriter, Carl Gottlieb, helps to bully Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) into keeping the beaches open after the first attack so as not to spook the tourists. He even buries in the back pages an advertisement offering a reward to the fisherman who kills the shark that eviscerates young Alex Kintner (Jeffrey Voorhees).
For true Jaws scholars, we would note that the name of the Island newspaper in the novel Jaws, written by Nantucket’s Peter Benchley, is the Amity Leader, and its editor, Harry Meadows, is “an immense man, for whom the act of drawing breath was exertion enough to cause perspiration to dot his forehead.” Mr. Meadows covers up the news of the first shark attack, to the eventual regret of everyone involved, because of pressure brought to bear by advertisers who hear initial reports of the killing and don’t want news of it to ruin the coming summer season.
Hold the news of a shark attack? Not likely in 2012. We’re certain the Amity Gazette, like the Vineyard Gazette, would do everything it possibly could to cover the tragedy of a fatal shark attack in Island waters — in print, online, on Facebook and on Twitter.
No, with this special edition, we’re just having a little fun.