Tag Archives: Baltimore

How Can Journalism Help Our Communities?

Sometimes things get very basic. My mother has been fighting for six years to deal with a house next door that has seems to have multiple building code violations and may be an illegal group home. (It is definitely a group home; whether or not is illegal depends on how many people are staying there, which is in question.) [Picture of house below.]

As a reporter who didn’t want to just focus on my own family’s needs — who wanted to remain impartial if not “objective” — I stayed out of the fray. And then, I just got tired of ignoring the needs of the community I had grown up in. So I am working on an article about the situation, and preparing to do a series of reports that may take video as well as text/photo form.

I owe an editor the first of my articles, so I won’t go on too much. However, I wanted to bring up this Wall Street Journal article on Detroit.

It’s a heavily documented, personal-story-focused narrative about black middle class flight from Detroit. There are elements of it that remind me of the situation in Baltimore, particularly the triage of enforcement. But it is also a different city with a different set of issues.

As I began discussing this story with folks on Twitter (which is where I got the link, via @danamo), a few questions came to mind:

1) How can journalism help make government more accountable for its decisionmaking about communities?

2) Do stories like this one over-personalize one citizen’s experience and create false generalities, or is the one-as-example-of-many mode the best way to tell the stories of evolving neighborhoods?

3) How do you deal with the emotional fallout of journalism? If you are living through the changes in your neighborhood or job situation, a story like this can produce a lot of emotional turbulence. How can journalism acknowledge this emotional resonance and prepare people to keep reading/viewing/responding despite the pain?

I’ll leave it there for now. All thoughts appreciated.