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Is The National Media Embracing Detroit?

Wow, there has been a lot of national press about Detroit lately. Time, Sports Illustrated, and Forbes have all been talking about Detroit. Surprisingly, most of it has been positive.


I find this press very interesting because a few days ago I said, "The national media has already written their Detroit story, let's write ours now and show them what we have to offer."

News broke over the summer that Time Inc bought a house in Detroit. They are housing reporters, bloggers, and photographers from Time, Fortune, CNN Money, and Sports Illustrated. These new residents of Detroit will be here for a yearlong assignment. The house has been nicknamed the D-Shack.

I sincerely hope that this initiative will be a positive one, not a rehash of all the stories we’ve read before. From what I’ve read so far, I’m impressed.

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve seen so far:

Letter From Detroit from Times’ The Detroit Blog

Assignment Detroit from CNN Money. I particularly like their tagline, "It's a city in crisis – but with potential for a big comeback."

And then we have the Sports Illustrated cover featuring Detroit and our Tigers, "The Righteous Franchise, Detroit: The Tigers' Bold Stand with Their Fans," by Lee Jenkins. Please, don’t let this be a jinx on our beloved baseball team.

The 9/28/2009 Sports Illustrated cover featuring the Detroit Tigers.

A few weeks ago, Shikha Dalmia wrote a column at, About That Detroit Renaissance. She’s not buying it. This is what we’ve come to expect writers to say about Detroit.

Kathleen Bushnell Owsley then wrote, In Defense of Detroit, a reply to Dalmia’s post at Forbes. I find it refreshing that the Detroit community on Twitter has embraced this column and not Dalmia’s.

Maybe I am a Pollyanna; I'm ok with that. Do people expect us to lie down and die? Call "game over"? We're Detroiters and we're strong and innovative.

Ms. Owsley said,

I'd suggest to Ms. Dalmia that she take a second look at our fair city. I'd be happy to introduce her to some of the gems she missed on her first glance at Detroit.

I also extend that invitation, both to Ms. Dalmia and to our new residents of the D-Shack.

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Reader Comments (4)

I see where Ms. Dalmia responded to some of the comments on Ms. Owsley's post...she's still not buying it. I figure she's just not getting it.

Meanwhile, here's something (via @publichistorian on Twitter) for those watching this coverage...a drinking game of all things! Given the rules here, I might have easily gotten plastered with the last NYT article I read about Detroit--the Katrina comparisons alone would have me finishing off a keg o' beer!

I hope these "embedded" reporters do right by Detroit. Time (no pun intended) will only tell.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDominique

Right! We don't gain anything by rolling over and playing dead. Think about it. If we do, we only doom ourselves to living in a place with no public services, everyone fending for themselves.

So what if the organizations in place are broken? We either keep trying to fix it, or (more likely) build something new to replace them.

I've been living in Greenville. SC. for the past two years. I returned about every 6 months to visit family during that time. Last December things looked pretty bleak, with empty buildings falling into disrepair, "for sale" signs on too many houses. People were generally depressed.

But, when we came back in June, it was as if someone had flipped on the lightswitch. The atmosphere was brighter and it was easier to breathe. (Coincidentally, Greenville's economy really started falling apart during that time.) Sure, houses were still for sale. Still, too many of them. But, with the green grass and some spiffing up, those houses looked more viable. New businesses had moved in to some empty buildings.

No, we haven't turned the corner. No, the hard work isn't done. But, there's evidence of growth: community-organized events, "friends of" organizations, and creative things like the Red Wings corn maze popping up in many neighborhoods in and around Detroit.

What does this mean? We've moved on. We've stopped listening to the doom and decided to band together to make something of what we do have.

We moved back in August. As we're trying to re-acquaint ourselves with local PTA and sports organizations, we're also moving back into our old house. It, too, needs renovation after two years of being a rental property. And we're cranking through that as fast as we can so we, too, can lend whatever little we can to Friends of Proud Lake, Boy Scouts, and a few other things.

The crucial thing for Detroiters to remember is that just a little effort is a lot. You don't have to do it all. Look around and you'll find people who are willing to give a little, and all those "littles" will add up to serious change.

Detroit is ours. Media can say whatever it wants.

September 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristy

There are countless reasons why Detroit is thriving - and that's mainly due to the amazingly talented, creative and ambitious people living here who are turning our city around. I've been thrilled to see the positive national attention, too. It's an accomplishment for sure, but more importantly we still need to work on the people who live here. I still hear too many negative comments about Michigan and Detroit from people who live, work and play here. How can we ever expect to reverse the negative national opinion if our own neighbors are contributing to the trash talking? Every time I'm around someone who puts down Detroit or Michigan, I give them at least one example to prove they are seriously mistaken. I hope others do the same!

September 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNikki Stephan

Thank you for your comments. I know I'm not the only one who thinks like this and it's encouraging to hear others agree.

Thanks for the link on the drinking game! Very funny.

Welcome home! I love the idea that a bunch of little things will add up to a big thing. And we do need to remember that Detroit belongs to us.

You're so right! Just this weekend I overheard Detroiters complain about the suburbs. And suburbanites complaining about Detroit isn't new. I wish people would understand that we are all one and can't exist without each other.

September 28, 2009 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

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