In Detroit the SMS May Prove Mightier than the Sword

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

In Detroit, Mich., a local problem is gaining city-wide attention thanks to the help of some creative reporting and social networking tools. In the city's southwestern neighborhood, known as "Mexicantown," large tractor-trailer trucks take shortcuts down residential blocks, causing property damage and possibly health concerns. 

(It is illegal for such large trucks to drive down particular streets; the project is meant to use Detroit residents as spotters for such scofflaw rigs.) WDET reporter Rob St. Mary says that WDET's reporting on the subject, which begins today, would have never come about if it weren't for a system of text messaging and social media targeted to the neighborhood.

St. Mary tells us that despite living in an age where websites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter keep their users instantly connected to thousands of people and organizations, traditional news media have seemed slow to grasp the power of sourcing information from their audience.

QUESTION: Is there a problem in your local community that you’d like investigated?  Maybe it's illegal trucks, or something completely different. You can text us just like Detroiters did. Start by sending the word TAKE to 69866 (Normal texting rates apply).

Guests:

Rob St. Mary

Produced by:

Hsi-Chang Lin

Comments [2]

I hope there will be a traditionally-scoped story here in addition to contributions of social networking: what kinds of trucks, where are they coming from, where are they going, what are the legal routes, why aren't they using the legal routes, what do the local ordinances say about weight limits on the residential streets, is there signage, what companies are the trucks contracted to, has anyone filed claims with those companies, has anyone interviewed the drivers, or asked the drivers to text in, are freight companies taxed in any way for street maintenance, etc. etc.

Jul. 06 2010 09:45 AM
Larry King from Atlanta

the issue in southwest Detriot challenges the "healthy community concept" and has all the features of classical environmental injustice.
The inability to enforce existing regulations is a poor excuse. WDET should continue efforts to empower the community.

Jul. 06 2010 08:24 AM

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