So, nobody around here really seems to like it when reporters write things about Detroit. Mitch Albom, Charlie LeDuff, rent-a-hacks from London, jerks from Chicago. Whatever. They all suck. Die, die, die.
On the day that Charlie's story about the dead guy sticking out of the ice in Matty Maroun's warehouse ran in the News last week, you could log on to a certain prominent local message board and find yourself embroiled in a good, old-fashioned tempest in a teapot. It was a big 'un - threatening, even, to spill over onto the good china.
How shall we count the ways that all these critics, mostly of them criticizing from armchairs in places that are not Detroit, were outraged. Oh, hell, let's not. It gets tedious, hearing the same complaints over and over again. Wait, let's do, for the record: The reporter's a hack. My dog could have written this. How is this news. This happens everywhere - even in the suburbs. The reporter is a lying liar who doesn't know anything and we do.
Admittedly, this blog has been party to its own share of criticism of Detroit coverage, something which seems to have ticked up significantly since the Big Three went on their begging trip to Washington last year.
Here's the new revelation, peoples: I'm out.
No more bitching about news coverage.
Why? Let's look at New Orleans. After Katrina, the news media swooped in. Some of us stayed far longer than we should have. Even though eventually we'd have to leave and go, for instance, do our jobs, we returned again and again.
At that point, stories were appearing in the papers non-stop, all over the world. Were some of them badly written? No doubt. Did many lack originality? For sure.
Did every one of them serve a very important purpose? Absolutely. They alerted outsiders to the fact that there was something very, very wrong with a corner of the country, that what New Orleans accepts as a normal level of dysfunction and poverty is actually something that simply should not be. Not in these United States.
It was good that people now knew. Shine the light in, all that BS.
Slowly, I find myself coming around to the same conclusion with Detroit. It's hard to argue that this is not the most screwed-up major city in the United States. In fact, let's not even argue, because you and I both know it's simply true. Particularly after New Orleans was able to fob off so many of its poors onto other cities.
The problem with Detroit is the same problem with New Orleans. When someone would write about the Lower Ninth Ward or later, the murder problem in Central City, everyone would start crying like babies.
But we're so much MORE than that, they'd whine. What about our wonderful neighborhoods and fabulous restaurants!
You hear the same thing in Detroit, non-stop. I suppose it would be churlish to try and blame people for reacting like this. That doesn't mean they are not being unreasonable.
In their minds, Charlie's piece should have alerted readership that this dead body in this abandoned building that had been frozen in ice there for weeks or whatever was just steps from Detroit's coolest new coffee bar. Would that have made everyone happy?
It's like everyone wants a cookie when Detroit does something normal. Sure, more than half our population can barely read or write, but we have all these bars and restaurants within walking distance of each other! Oh, hey - sure, nobody really graduates high school anymore, but did you hear about all these cool art shows happening this weekend? Nobody writes about that!
You get the point.
In summary: It may be time to stop criticizing the press and start seeing how perhaps the permanent state of denial that people move into in order to cope with the madness may be clouding your judgment. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' famous stages of grief are as follows:
A lot of people up in here seem to be stuck on #1.