Who Controls Detroit's Image?
Whether we like it or not, Detroit is associated with a bunch of negative images: high rates of violence and crime, low household income, poor education systems and a high incidence of drug usage. But the bigger problem is the lack of responsibility that Detroit citizens take for these issues.
I often hear Detroiters make two claims about the news media: the media don't cover a lot of "good" or "positive" news, or the media "control" Detroit's image. Neither claim places any responsibility for Detroit's negative image on the citizens in the city. The best thing Detroit can do is to look at the media coverage of the city, reflect, and see that the only thing blocking us from having a well-known and positive image around the country (and around the world) is our own inability to function appropriately in our own communities.
It should be hard to blame the media for an anti-Detroit bias when there actually is a lot of negative news to be covered here. If you see negative images in the media, it's because we haven't yet addressed the problems that create them: crime, unemployment, bad schools and illegal drug use. It's not that nothing good happens in Detroit, because it does. Unfortunately, there are more negatives to be covered in this city than positive. That's the problem.
Yes, other cities with problems may receive less coverage of these issues than Detroit does … but that is not necessarily good for them. If we've come to the conclusion that the local and national media have put Detroit under a microscope, then let's change our ways to make sure there's plenty of positive moments to report.
No city is perfect, and no one expects that of us, but together we can make sure our image isn't full of problems. Complaining won't change our image. We must change the way we act. You can start in your own community. Do something positive. Then alert the media.
Joshua Jamerson is part of the “TIME 11,” a group of Detroit area high-school students working with Assignment Detroit. In the fall, he will be a senior at Detroit's Renaissance High School.