Detroit Residents Fight Negative Media Portrayal

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The 'Spirit of Detroit' (flickr user cletch (cc:by))

Residents of Detroit are up in arms over recent media coverage that they say highlights Detroit's poverty, unemployment and illiteracy, but fails to consider any of the positive aspects of life in Motor City.

A documentary by Dateline NBC that aired this Sunday has prompted an outcry from community activists, Detroit media and ordinary residents. We're speaking to two people who help take the pulse in Detroit: Rochelle Riley is a columnist with the Detroit Free Press, and Luther Keith is executive director of ARISE Detroit - a coalition of 400 organizations that works to promote volunteerism and commmunity activism.


Luther Keith and Rochelle Riley

Produced by:

Noel King

Comments [42]

Lauren from Greenwich Park

Detroit is a has it problems but it is never the full story. Just as there is all the various the "ruin porn" shown, it also has some of the most beautiful neighborhoods and architecture you will ever see

I just took some pictures of the Detroit Main Library.

May. 01 2010 06:20 PM
John from Detroit, 48228

Detroit is in a perpetual state of denial. It really is that bad and it really isn't normal. Until Detroiters (including the 4/5 that don't vote and the 1/2 that can't read) admit and accept the above, it will continue to be a horrible place. One person's "frontier spirit" is another's lawlessness. I came for the frontier spirit, I'm leaving because of the relentless lawlessness of the society in general. It's not only Detroit, it's the whole region, and to a great extent, the whole state.

Apr. 30 2010 09:53 AM
Alexis from South Detroit

I am curious on Frank Taylor's view of Detroit. He obviously does not care about this city. His poor wife.

Apr. 29 2010 07:13 PM

Subject: "Hard Listening" Future of Music in the Motor City

The Detroit Music Scene: Easy Listening it's not. The Detroit scene is about Hard Listening. I mean Titanium-Hard. Always been that way. Focused. Intense. Leave the comedy to Soupy… Let's start in the 1930s: Cutting contests at the Graystone Ballroom that made the cats on the coasts afraid to come back. Hard. Paradise Valley getting ploughed over by I-75. Hard. Be-boppers leaving town to be appreciated. Hard. Moving up in time: The competition to create the perfect pop song in the snakepit of the Motown studios. Hard. MC5, & running from tear-gas. Hard. Iggy Pop's chest. Hard. Cybotron to Eminem to the White Stripes… They love us everywhere… And it's like Woody said: "Hard Travellin' - Travellin' on'"

I've been a part of a few scenes in this town… From the first wave of Bookie's bands to hair bands to not-so-much hair bands. Now I'm considered a "folkie" and my scene is ultra-vibrant but so what? It doesn't stand a chance of breaking out -- It can't spread because it's too hard to get around in this town … (Then you have to park!)

Like everyone else holding down this fort, I am weary of seeing musicians leave to make someone else's scene. Until folks from Bloomfield can get to Jefferson-Chalmers, and folks from Green Acres can get to Northville; our city is never really going to grow a scene. Scenes are intrinsically a "walking distance" phenomenon. You can get to Greenwich Village as long as you can make it to the subway stop in Queens. You can get to Old Town if you can get to the south side train. Beale Street… Austin…Toronto… Everybody can WALK everywhere. . .

Cities have scenes because they maintain dependable public transportation. The day Detroit gets a good rail or bus system that unites the Urbs with the Burbs will be the day multi-scenes will spontaneously birth themselves. Hard Labor. Birth on.

Jere Stormer

Apr. 29 2010 12:16 AM
Dina from Detroit

I think some people think it is cute to malign a whole city.

I had someone I know gleefully show me pictures of Detroit in the 60's "back when you can walk the streets". Without skipping a beat I reminded him that I was born and raised in Detroit. I did not live in the ritzy areas either. I grew up off Mack and French which is three blocks away from the infamous corner of Mack and Bewick. Detroit has issues. Absolutely, but to highlight the bad without giving a balanced viewpoint of the good is deceptive period. Showing suburbanites as saviors of the city is not the truth though it may feel better to believe. There are people in the city who work for the positive. I know this from first hand experience.

Apr. 28 2010 10:51 PM
Dina from Detroit

I think some people think it is cute to malign a whole city.

I had someone I know gleefully show me pictures of Detroit in the 60's "back when you can walk the streets". Without skipping a beat I reminded him that I was born and raised in Detroit. I did not live in the ritzy areas either. I grew up off Mack and French which is three blocks away from the infamous corner of Mack and Bewick. Detroit has issues. Absolutely, but to highlight the bad without giving a balanced viewpoint of the good is deceptive period. Showing suburbanites as saviors of the city is not the truth though it may feel better to believe. There are people in the city who work for the positive. I know this from first hand experience.

Apr. 28 2010 10:50 PM
Suzanne Rodgers from Detroit, Mi (Boston Edison Historic District

I have lived in Detroit most of my life, I left for a short time to move up north but I realized I needed the city, the museums, the theatre, the mix of people. I moved to a historic district, Boston Edison Historic District, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city (yes, there are many others), and I (we) have not left. The Arts, the science, the river, the changes, nothing ever stays the same. Our neighborhood has been quite stable even in the midst of the recession, and we pull together. Detroit is not alone, it is metropolitan, we have a large umbrulla of cities and counties around us! We work together and we need each other. Please visit: and to learn more about Detroit and the surrounding areas.
Thanks, Suzanne

Apr. 28 2010 08:08 PM
Scott from Detroit

I have lived one city north of Detroit my hole life, I was involved in volunteer programs 3 times, we fixed porches, doors, fences, and lawns, and we would return the next summer to check on the folks only to find that MOST of the time the work was already wrecked, I think its sad that they allowed it to get destroyed so quickly and had to be done intentionally.

I just wish the people of Detroit could gain a feeling of ownership for the city and take care of it, I don't believe it will ever be a nice place do to a lack of interest, its too bad for the people who actually care.

Apr. 28 2010 07:39 PM
Adam 313 from Detroit

A more insightful commentary can be found by typing "D-E-T-R-O-I-T" into the Google or Wikipedia search bar.

Apr. 28 2010 06:11 PM
Amanda from Detroit, MI

Detroit is friendly people and a city bustling with fun and stimulating activities. Colleagues ask skeptically, if I like living here, 3 blocks from work? Walking to work is just the first luxury. I Love, Love, Love it! I love living in a charming loft with great views, hardwood floors and brick walls. Within a few blocks, I can walk to the theater district, 2nd largest in the country, including the lovely historic Opera House. I can see the Tigers and Lions play. I walk/bike along the beautiful new river walk, catch a concert in Campus Martius Park, walk to a casual charming restaurant or neighborhood pub. Bike or drive less than 2 miles to the Detroit Institute of Arts, the countries top five, which offers free national music acts every Friday, the premier Detroit Orchestra, dozens of galleries, and my favorite bakery, Avalon Bakery.

Saturdays is Eastern Market day. One of the country's largest Farmer Markets. My weekly marketing is an enjoyable social activity, not a grocery-store chore, strolling through outdoor and indoor sheds, running into a handful of friends amongst thousands of visitors, while getting fresh farmer produce for a bargain, while chatting with the people who grew it.

I enjoy that you regularly run into friends, it's a close nit and friendly place.

There's no better place to bike than downtown. Streets are wide and traffic light and everything's within a 15 minute peddle away or join 2,000 for 40 miles in September with Tour de Troit. I love biking to get where I am going, a couple girlfriends and I have a weekly weeknight ride, or I join a monthly group ride on Saturday mornings.

I love Detroit's vibrate festivals...Jazz Festival, bustling Noel Night, Concert of Colors' world music offerings, funky Daily in the Alley with local bands, to name a few.

Detroit is a city of opportunities, ordinary people and friends, are opening interesting local businesses, cafes and rehabbing historic buildings. Resources and friendships abound to support them, such as the Open City monthly forum on starting-up a business. Non-profits make an impact and involve the community, such as the annual Detroit Agriculture Network Garden Tour, a few hundred visit dozens of community gardens one evening by bus or bike, followed by a vegetarian dinner, prepared with food from the visited gardens. Organizations like the vibrate all-volunteer non-profit, Detroit Synergy, a unique org that is a vehicle for people to take their ideas for the city and become a leader, many for the first time, doing projects that are supported by passionate volunteers, from neighborhood cleans and greening, to strolling supper clubs, 5K fundraising runs, coffee talks on local topics, to bike rides and Shop Detroit and much more.

If listeners want a more balanced report on what's happening in Detroit, subscribe or glance at the weekly e-magazine Model D ( for fresh and graceful reports on Detroit's new developments, people and events.

Apr. 28 2010 05:51 PM
Lydia from Detroit, MI

I was born and raised in Detroit. After five years away, I have moved home to my roots. Detroit is an incredible city. In no way do I want cover up the reality of the poverty and injustice . However, in the midst of that, Detroiters have taken the struggles of survival and have transformed them into creative acts of community and resistance. For example, there are no chains grocery stores in the city. Detroit is a food dessert. So, we begin planting gardens. There are hundreds of family, community, and school gardens all over the city. These gardens are feeding one another, providing some income, making space beautiful, and most importantly creating diverse communities. This is just one example. It is happening everywhere. Change is happening on the grassroots level in every neighborhood.

This summer the US Social Forum is coming to Detroit. They chose Detroit for exactly these reasons. Yes, Detroit is twenty years ahead in terms of the economic collapse, but Detroit is also twenty years ahead in thinking about what cities can look like in the midst of deindustrialization. As they say, Another World is Possible. Another US is Necessary. Another Detroit is happening.

Apr. 28 2010 05:12 PM
Lynne from Detroit from Detroit

Anyone can easily write another negative story about Detroit, really we all eat coon everyone knows that. Keep the stories coming detroiters do not want a boring generic city like our neighboring suburbs are. Gee can we go to Applebees again.
Detroit is hip grittty with a personality and a kickass edge. Not to mention one of the best cycling cities around. I don't have to worry about being plowed down by a soccer mom in a sub.

Apr. 28 2010 05:02 PM
Gregg McDuffee from Detroit

We were very pleased to see the photo of The Spirit of Detroit statue on your web page (“Detroit Fights Negative Image”) In 2008 we restored the statue at a costs of $160,000 and rededicated the Spirit (on its 50th birthday) at a celebration that attracted 700 Detroiters.

The Spirit proudly stands in front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal center (City Hall) and is a Detroit icon; a symbol of a depth and strength of the commitment that Detroiters share for the future of our city.

Many thanks for continuing the “conversation” about Detroit.

Gregg McDuffee

Executive Director

Detroit-Wayne Joint Building Authority

Apr. 28 2010 04:48 PM
Linda from Harrison Twp, MI

Detroit has many, many cultural and entertainment opportunities for all ages and tastes. When I travel and I talk about all the things I do in & around Detroit: Red Wings, Tigers, Lions, Gem & Century Theatres, Fisher Theatre, The Fox, The Palace, DTE Energy Music Theatre, Freedom Hill, Meadowbrook, free concerts in Mount Clemens and other communities in the summer, boating on Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, our metro parks...people get jealous, I am doing something different every weekend. I think that the city has lost a lot, but it still has a lot to offer and more is coming onboard all the time. We as individuals and communities concentrate on what we don't have instead of remembering all that we really still do have to be thankful for.

Apr. 28 2010 03:19 PM
Karyn from Mid-Michigan

Anthony Bourdain did the same thing when he was in Detroit.
I wanted to say, please don't count out those of us who live in the rest of the state. You don't sell all of your Redwings or Pine Knob tickets in the city. We may not live there, but we know how important Detroit is to the rest of the state and many of us want to see the big D do well. Its the cultural hub of the state. Its open to almost anything. If you have a great idea, you can bet Detroit would be the place to try it. And lets not forget the developing film industry coming to the state by way of Detroit. You don't have to live in Detroit to love its summer music and ethnic festivals. Alot of us are pulling for Detroit and would be willing to help it succeed.

Apr. 28 2010 12:20 PM

I have lived and worked here for 63 years and still love it. It is unfortunate that we have so much adamoisty betwwen the communities. A big contributor to lack of cooperation are the likes of L. Brooks Patterson. With his hatred and lack of broad community participation is one of several reasons why large groups and charitalbe organization do not want to help Detroit or its suburbs. I have yet to see ANY show on Detroit on televison that did not use us as a preset political agenda.
One exception was when Prairie Home Companion was here about a month ago.
It truely gave a favorable impression of the D

Apr. 28 2010 12:06 PM
Travis R. Wright from Bricktown, Detroit

The national media perpetually misses the boat, tripping into the water, making a splash of some sort. Detroit is a popular subject, and for good reason, but mainstream media are blind to the energy. Anyway, what's the ripple effect? Globally, I agree with a strong contingent of folks out there that've criticized NBC's production on the grounds it offered nothing new; that it could have just as well been produced in 1999. It was lame. Hansen should stick to napping pedophiles. Here's a story for 2010: What's with all these beautiful freaks who venture here from San Francisco, the Netherlands, France and New York? They fall in love with Detroit, then put their stamp on it. What about the Detroit Declaration? the Russell? Comparing Cass Corridor 1990 with 2010? What about spending more time with Bobb? I mean, the could've focused on the school's for an hour alone. But even if they would've done that, they'd only skim over a few "good stories." And they'd probably still interview Kid Rock, too. Kid Rock does not speak for Detroit -- get a clue.

Apr. 28 2010 11:21 AM
Tony Liggett aka Top Kat from Hamtramck, MI

I moved away from Detroit in the early Eighties. When I returned in the middle Nineties I rediscovered what I liked best about this town. On ANY given night there are 20 bars with 20 bands playing the best music on the planet. The pulse of the city flows through this music. The gritty harsh reality of living in a world where nothing comes easy but the rewards are so sweet. Detroit syncs with my personal philosophy of finding beauty everywhere you look, like when you take the time to spot the fragile purple flower coming out of a crack in a jagged sidewalk. I can't imagine ever living anywhere else.

Apr. 28 2010 11:13 AM
terry from Detroit

Years ago I 've visited victims of war in a Gaza when I mentioned that I lived in Metro Detroit. They looked at me in amazement. One of the people asked me “if I was afraid to live in Detroit?” When I asked why, they said that they heard that most people in Detroit are “criminals who kill people at every corner.” This and many similar episodes about Detroit being the worst is sad

I take umbrage with the fact that Detroit is a wasteland filled with killers, corrupt politicians and blighted neighborhoods. . some news media describe Detroit as the pariah of urban cities. I don’t dispute that today Detroit has many problems, but if people take the time to look at Detroit, they will see the soul of a city that refuses to give up and die, despite the momentous problems the city faces.

I work with people from all races and classes. I see committed people who donate their time, talent and treasures to ensure that the city survives. Detroit does not only have a great history, it is still making history with its superior institutions.

At the hospital where I work, people come from all over the world for rehabilitation. Across the street from my hospital I watch the lives Detroit changes at Wayne State University, where thousands of people come from all over the world to get a superior education in the Midst of Detroit.

Further in the heart of the city, students from throughout the Midwest study at Detroit Universities. Despite the problems of our Detroit Schools. we still have schools that compete with the best schools in America.

On Martin Luther King Street in the middle of the inner city, one can see the revival of a neighborhood from the ashes of destruction. Neighborhood groups work on the upkeep of their streets. Volunteers dedicate themselves to help maintain the city. For every one criminal we have hundreds of dedicated people who dedicate their lives to improving the city.

Detroit has people like James, the first Habitat for Humanity homeowner in Detroit. After paying off his mortgage, James continues to send a $50 check to Habitat for Humanity to help other homeowners. James is not an exception. On a daily basis, Detroiters from all walks of life, spend hours volunteering in hospitals, home shelters and other non-profit agencies.

Detroit is not about blight, foreclosed, and abandoned building. The entertainment district rivals any major city in the United States, boasting Five Star restaurants, three distinct sport arenas, the DIA and other Museums.

It is about young people who participate in wonderful activities in school and the community. No one can say that they experienced Detroit, unless they sat and listened our youth performing at the Mosaic or sat in area restaurants surrounded by art from local young artists on display.

Thousands of people come to Detroit to participate in the diverse festivals and fireworks, the auto show and ice skate in downtown Detroit

Apr. 28 2010 10:22 AM
Herb Harris from Detroit, MI

Chris Hansen interviewed me. Did anybody see me? Yeah... he came to my crib and we sat on my balcony, enjoyed the downtown Detroit skyline view . We went to Comerica Park to stock up on cheap Tiger tickets; to the ATM to get a twenty ; to Steve's ; he wanted to go to Bert's but I had homework and had to wake up at 6:30 in the morning to go to work. I was interviewed by Chris Hansen... did anybody see me?

Apr. 28 2010 10:20 AM
Amy Kaherl from Detroit, mi

I wake up every morning excited about the possibilities and potential of living in Detroit and more specifically the Woodbridge community. The biggest little city is a phrase we continue to use and also hear. If Dateline wants to focus on the ruins that's fine or show the Detroit train station...great...that's part of our history. If they also turn around they will see Slow's restaurant that is never there moniker. People from all over meeting and eating together and that's happening all over the city. There is a lot of life and a lot of talk of movement, regrowth, change. It's's just not instant. The people are dedicated to doing something different and that to me is progress.

Apr. 28 2010 10:05 AM
Kathe Koja

I don't consult Dateline to find out how I look in the morning: I check the mirror. Detroit is its citizens, its supporters, its artistic and spiritual reach, its music, its ferocity, its unique beauty. We've allowed ourselves be defined by others far too long.

Apr. 28 2010 09:32 AM
Rebecca from Detroit, MI

I don't think the whole story was told. Look at all the activism that is going on the city! And just because there are no Krogers or Meijers doesn't mean that there are no grocery stores. Mexicantown is thriving, and yet Dateline did not mention anything about it. We're can't be compared to other cities because we're not like other cities. Ugh!

Apr. 28 2010 09:15 AM

I am a resident of Detroit, and have been all of my life. It's true, I have seen some negative things take place within my city. However, in my years as a Detroiter, I have also witnessed some of the most hard-working, selfless, and PROUD individuals that make this city the grand place it is. To think that some documentary, which takes from our city what it needs to prove its point, can define what and who we are is ludicrous! We are resilient, determined AND educated. Getting approval from American media is not something we care about, not in the LEAST!!!

Apr. 28 2010 09:04 AM
James Melton from Detroit

Inforum is working to make Detroit -- and Michigan as a whole -- the best place in the nation for women to advance their careers.

Read this:

Apr. 28 2010 08:50 AM
Anna from Detroit, MI

I moved from Boston to Detroit a few years ago because I was interested in shifting from a city that was already "made" to a city in the making. The creative and entrepreneurial energy here is unbelievable. The city seems to attract a disproportionate number of people with a "frontier" spirit. Without romanticizing away the very real problems of this place (there are many), I love it here.

Apr. 28 2010 08:16 AM
Julia from Detroit

I just picked up my package from the first CSA in Detroit which is done by a business called Brother Nature. The package included salad greens that I usually get when my kids and I drop by the farm and help out Brother Nature (aka Greg Willerer) by picking the greens ourselves. When we picked up the package which, along with the salad greens, included Michigan apples, mushrooms, and potatoes, my kids (4 and 2) were disappointed that the produce was ready to go. They thought they were going to get to pick the food. I was born and raised in Detroit. I went to its public schools. I raise my children here and contrary to popular belief, not only do they know where food comes from, they're accustomed to getting it right from the source. They've never been inside a liquor store. I know this is not the norm for the majority of Detroit kids which is why I'm on a team to start a charter school in N. Corktown of Detroit so that more children have the experiences that my own children have. However, it is misguided and sensationalist to ignore the experiences of people who have chosen to make this city their home and use the resources that exist to make a fine living here. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. And raising my kids here has made me have to be creative with the resources that are here and also to reach out to other parents to create the community I want. Detroit is not for people who want a ready-made life. Detroit is for people who know that living is about the work of building community. It's up to us to create the world we want to live in. Detroit is a wonderful place to start.

Apr. 27 2010 04:19 PM
Betty DeRamus from Detroit, Michigan

I live in an upper-income Detroit neighborhood of sleek, glassy high-rise apartments and tidy townhouses. I am walking distance from a farmers market, Greek, Italian and Cajun restaurants and antique shops. I'm also near a park just named the first ever winner of a national award for urban open space. The city remains a place of serenity and warfare, sunshine and shadows.

Apr. 27 2010 01:44 PM
Zombo from Your Nightmares

There is nothing wrong with Detroit. Detroit is simply different from what it was and what people expect it to be. Detroit is hard. Detroit is unforgiving. Detroit is not, however, inhospitable. Detroit allows for things that couldn't possibly exist elsewhere... Theatre Bizarre, for instance. It defies description, but here's a valiant attempt:

... and here's another:

Find anything like this anywhere else in the world and then say that Detroit is broken. It isn't broken. It's a playground.

Apr. 27 2010 11:03 AM
dave from Minco, OK

I have no home town. I was born in Ft. Bragg, NC and moved 6 months later. Dad was in the Army. I'm in OK, my sisters are in FL and in OR. Moved every 4 or 5 years all my life. Now, where to retire? Listen to all the reports about different cities. How am I to know what's what?

Apr. 27 2010 10:20 AM
paul from Somerville, MA

somerville, mass. -- the cultural center of the universe! just ask anyone...

Apr. 27 2010 09:49 AM
Maura at the Detroit Regionial News Hub from Detroit

Thanks for this discussion on Detroit and for helping balance the perceptions folks have about the city and region. Here's a link to an Op/ed from area leaders regarding the Dateline story

Listeners might also find our recent Detroit Perceptions survey interesting. It shows how much people here love Detroit flaws and all but also how powerful national television is in forming the perception outsiders have of the city.

Apr. 27 2010 09:40 AM
Lorri from Bloomfield

Wow, I too was left with the question...Do I really identify with .."That City"???? As a suburb dweller sending my 5 boys to U of D jesuit High School in Detroit. It is an ongoing quest. Look at the Time Magazine article about U of D. Proud to work at being part of the solution.

Apr. 27 2010 09:30 AM
Tom Pryor from Brooklyn, NY

Know why Detroit rules the world?

Two words: The Dirtbombs

Two more words: Mick Collins

The best damn rock and roll band on the damn planet is from Detroit!

Apr. 27 2010 09:10 AM
Jeremy from Detroit

I spent three years in South Florida. Paradise to many. In 2004 I moved from Boca Raton, FL directly to the Cass Corridor in Detroit. I instantly fell in love with the city. The people here are amazing and the city is as real as it gets. Detroit is MY paradise.

Apr. 27 2010 09:06 AM
Tracey Sims from Hamtramck, MI

Even in the toughest of times, Detroit always manages to surprise me. Last year, we began as a small group of dedicated filmmakers determined to make an independent film on virtually no budget. What we ended up with was an outpouring of support from the Detroit community so strong that it surprised even us! From a cast and crew that literally worked for nothing but credit and meals to the generous donations of food, locations service and Michigan-made products, our little movie is the result of a creative community that sacrificed their time to come together in true collaboration to tell a great story. What an amazing town!

Apr. 27 2010 08:55 AM
Tameka M from New York

I didn't see the Dateline segment, but plan to find it online and watch it, but I wanted to have my say here anyway.

I am a Detroit native who now lives in New York, but I will always love my hometown. I was instilled with a strong work ethic because I was immersed in that kind of culture from day one. With a dad who worked at General Motors and a mom who was a nurse, I was taught that if you worked hard you would achieve.

Most Detroiters share this same work ethic too. There is so much culture there ranging from music, food, art and wonderful theaters.

I believe the heart of the city still beats strong. It just needs strong leaders to keep the blood flowing.

Apr. 27 2010 08:50 AM
Joan Smykowski from Detroit Area/WDET

The Twelve Steps of Southeastern Michigan Anonymous

We admit we are powerless over looking at the total view of Southeastern Michigan that our perception has become skewed and defenseless.

Came to believe that new and creative ideas, based on successful regions throughout the world are greater than ourselves could restore us to be a total functional region, not just pockets and bubbles within the region.

Made a decision to turn our will and our region to a non-partisan, non-racist (and reverse racist mindset) as we understand it.

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Admitted to a high power or to ourselves, and/or to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs, not just look at the good stuff.

Were entirely ready to responsibility to remove all these defects of character.

If it helps, humbly asked a higher power to remove our shortcomings.

Made a list of all persons we had harmed and become willing to make amends to them.

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, expect when to do so much injure them or others.

Continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Sought through prayer and medication to improve our conscious contact with a higher power, as we understood Him/It, praying only for knowledge of His/it will for us and the power to carry that out.

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to other cities/regions, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Apr. 27 2010 08:44 AM
CDB from Wayne County

I was both saddened and angered by the obvious bias in the Dateline program on Detroit. Everything in the piece portrayed negative aspects of the city and aligned this view with black people. Crime, blight, broken families were the focus. All of the bright spots were about volunteerism by well-meaning whites and white investment into the city. They showed a white woman who started an urban garden, a white woman who founded a tutorial program which brings white students into Detroit Public schools from Brother Rice (a predominately white Catholic school located in the suburbs), and a white restaraunt owner who is bringing new investment into Detroit. Even the video of people working in the auto factories were of white people. One could conclude that we are not resourceful, do not value education, and do not posess the savy to own our own businesses.
I watched with great anticipation that the story would highlight something positive and to my dismay the final five minutes dealt with some promise of a future for the city.
The reality of Detroit is that is one of America's oldest cities. I absolutely understand that there are neighborhoods filled with abandoned homes and vacant land. The city is experiencing the highest unemployment and foreclosure rate for African-Americans in the US. There is a substantial crime rate.
Anyone who is not from Detroit who viewed this piece would think that there are no white or hispanic people in the city and the black people are the reason for the city's problems.
Detroit is filled with some beautiful neighborhoods from East English Village, Indian Village, Palmer Woods, Sherwood Forest, the Bagley Community, University District, Russell Woods, etc. Detroit has a rich cultural heritage, and is home to some of the nation's best museums.
I love my city and the people who live and work in Detroit. I grew up here, and while I live outside the city, my parents still live there and they have fought to maintain their neighborhood. There is a lot to love about the city and I have hope for its future.

Apr. 27 2010 08:38 AM
Sonja from New York, NY

My hometown is Eugene, Oregon, but usually, I find myself defending the entire state. When half the people can't pronounce "Oregon" correctly and almost no one has visited, it's hard to convince people of its beauty! Yeah, John, I heard you make fun of it during your coverage of Conan's national tour :)

Apr. 27 2010 08:23 AM
Iuliana Pacurariu from Detroit

Detroit is a very fun city. It has the Detroit Institute of Arts, the River Front, Cliff Bells with The Moth Series and much more...I love Detroit!!

Apr. 27 2010 08:16 AM
Erica from Springfield, MA

My hometown suffers from bad press and a bad reputation that I feel is unbalanced a la Detroit. I live in Springfield, Mass, and the local media has the "if it bleeds it leads" mindset, and doesn't offer much balanced good news. People who live in the suburbs around the city (and who often make their living in/from/off the city, then drive off with their disposable income and property tax dollars and votes) have a poor (and I believe unfounded in fact and often based in racisim) opinion of our city.

There is a widespread perception is that the city is violent and unsafe and filled with "bums" (the homeless, people on welfare, drug dealers, gang members, people cheating the system in some way, and utterly incompetent and corrupt government).

We certainly do have more than our fair share of people using social services and living in subsidized housing, and we have many people who are poorly educated, in ill-health, and not working. The surrounding suburbs again add to this by limiting the services they provide to people and putting caps on subsidized or low-income housing (or offering it only to the elderly who are less apt to cause trouble).

However, I live right downtown and have never been the victim of any sort of crime. I have an amazing house that would cost a gazillion dollars anywhere else. I live in a lovely, friendly and diverse neighborhood, and am happily not bombarded with consumer-culture bastions (there are very few middle-class type retail establishments in the city).

A friend and I who are big Springfield-boosters started a web site to attract more middle-class residents (and voters) to the city --

Every community has problems. One of the things that our local media fails to do is contextualize Springfield's problems by making any national comparisons. If someone is killed (almost always the victim of either domestic violence or drug-related crime, which is sad and awful of course, but not much of a threat to the general public), we get the litany of number of murders in Springfield this year or last year, but rarely the number of murders in say, Boston, or Detroit, or Baltimore, or Hartford. And forget about any reporting about property crimes in those local suburbs -- no reporting makes people think it doesn't happen. I would not be surprised if the per capita property crime rate in the 'burbs equals or exceeds ours in the city.

And our local government has come out of state receivership with a better operating system (and ongoing state oversight)! Hooray!

I know that many people like to complain and point fingers, and no matter what the press did, some suburban-types would always complain about the city, but I do think some people might re-evaluate their view of Springfield if the media gave a better idea of where we are in comparison to other places.

Apr. 27 2010 06:40 AM

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