Detroit’s Far (Media) Reach

While in Norway, I’ve quickly discovered that people outside of Detroit have very different views of the city where I work and spend much of my time, but those views aren’t all full of negativity.

To some people, they’ve heard it’s a failing city, while others have an impression that it’s on the rise and good things are happening in the city that has built up a notorious image of urban decay and bankruptcy. In both instances, opportunities for conversation about the city’s highs despite the lows have opened up.

One person told me that through the media, he thought that the city was basically falling apart. I could agree with him that Detroit definitely has a long way to go, but that there is improvement, both gradual efforts and larger projects, that are helping the city to improve. When I explained to him some of what has happened in the downtown area, as well as work being done to eliminate some blight in the neighborhoods, he had a better understanding of the city 4,000 miles away that he was led to believe was trashed.

Another person I spoke with had a different view, as she has heard that good things are happening in Detroit. We talked about the progress she had heard about, as well as some other projects happening that she didn’t know about. We also discussed the effect bankruptcy had on the city. She had heard bad things, but she had heard enough good to balance out what she thought about the city.

Two different people at two different times in the same city, Oslo, had such different viewpoints of Detroit, not because they had been to Detroit, but because of what they had heard about it.

The conversations we had were important to me because they highlighted just how necessary it is to make sure that more than just the crime and blight of Detroit is covered in the media.

There is crime in Detroit, there is blight in Detroit, but there are also amazing things happening in the city, and when someone so far away has such a negative view of the city because of the media, it’s up to people like me to make sure there’s a balance to what the world is seeing about it.

A few months ago, I had an idea for a series of stories that would highlight people and groups working to improve the city that I was going to publish on the local news website where I work. I began on it, but I never followed through. Because of what I have heard while in Norway, I am going to begin on the stories again when I return home.