An audio recording by the FBI inside a home in a quiet Massachusetts neighborhood captured the secret induction ceremony of a Mafia crime family as they took the oath of secrecy to join La Costa Nostra. That recording is the subject of the latest episode of the digital-only series, 12 On 12, by WPRI, Nextar’s CBS affiliate in Providence, R.I.
An audio recording by the FBI inside a home in a quiet Massachusetts neighborhood captured the secret induction ceremony of a Mafia crime family as they took the oath of secrecy to join La Costa Nostra.
Posing as utility men, FBI agents ran a wire from that house to a home up the street the night before. Several other agents then took pictures from a second-floor bathroom across the street as members of the New England crime family arrived for the secret meeting.
The recording, made on Oct. 29, 1989, changed organized crime forever. That recording, and the fallout of what happened to the four men who took the oath, are the subject of the latest episode of the digital-only series, 12 On 12, by WPRI, Nextar’s CBS affiliate in Providence, R.I.
“The good thing about this project is we could play more of the tapes than anyone has heard before,” said Tim White, investigative reporter for WPRI.
“More importantly is we explored the impact the tapes have had over the past three decades. We wanted to look at what happened to the key players that were involved in the mob induction ceremony particularly those who took that oath, and how they were used to secure these convictions that brought down entire organized crime families not just in New England, but in other parts of the country as well.”
WPRI’s 12 On 12 is a series of original, digital-only monthly reports that can be streamed only on WPRI’s website or WPRI’s news app.
“They have all been different so far,” said Karen Rezendes, WPRI’s news director, referring to the topics explored in 12 On 12. “We do have snippets of it that air on TV and, because we have so many elements in the various segments, we are able to showcase a different angle in each of those newscasts and push people to see the depth that we have on our website.”
So why the focus on digital as opposed to the station’s broadcast news?
“I think at the end of the day, you have to figure out which screens to be on at the right time, in what format you want that content to appear in on that screen,” said Patrick Wholey, WPRI’s general manager.
“We have limited real estate within the newscast,” said White,” and you can’t drop a nearly 24-minute piece in a newscast — that would be pretty rare. So this has been the best of both worlds.”
“We have a large audience on the television side so we use it to promote everything that we do,” said Wholey.
“It is sort of pushing to one place and getting an audience, and then pushing back to the other place to get an audience there, too. One of our brand pillars here is in-depth, and that has been a hallmark here forever. This really allows us to sort of expand in that world. Local content matters. If we produce solid content for our community, it is going to get seen and picked up. So the relevance of local news is really prevalent today.”
And people are watching the 12 On 12 segments. To date, the Mafia tapes has more than 140,000 page views and the combined page views for all four 12 On 12 segments is more than 270,000.
“If our video views increase and if more people go to our site,” said Wholey, “we are going to make more money. The video views alone on this particular product, this brand, have been incredible. So just that alone with the advertising tied to it, it is making more money. We have had a nice uptake in video revenue digitally.”
But in addition to the revenue generated digitally by the series, Wholey’s hope is that building the station’s brand as investigative on the digital platform will translate into news viewers on its broadcast platform.
“Hopefully we are getting people digitally that maybe have not experienced us as much on the air and we are trying to rope them in that way as well.”
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