Only half a million.

The classic law of crowd estimate journalese says that a reporter must echo a promoter’s estimate of the size of the crowd, no matter how inflated and impossible the number is. The Boston Globe dutifully followed this law on July 5, 2019 in reporting that “an estimated half a million people” lined the Esplanade for the annual 4th of July Boston Pops concert. The story does not say who did the estimating.

That would be crowding the entire adult population of the city along a mile or so of the banks of the Charles River. Or picture seven fully-packed Foxborough Stadiums at a Patriots game, and all those fans moving in and out of the Back Bay. Yeah, sure.

File under: At least it wasn’t a million.

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