Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Rust Belt Geography and Awful Journalism

Dying city myths at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Geographic stereotypes and migration.

Subject Article: "A restaurant to fuel Rust Belt renewal."

Other Links: 1. "This is One of America's Most Violent Cities — And It Deserves More Attention."
2. "The Lowest Hanging Fruit."
3. "Portland Is Dying."
4. "'Fastest Dying Cities' Meet for a Lively Talk."
5. "Braddock mythos redux."
6. "Braddock Misunderstood."
7. "Picture Show: Urban Decay and Renewal in Braddock, Pennsylvania."

Postscript: Chris Briem (Null Space) also blogged about "A restaurant to fuel Rust Belt renewal." Where the attention belongs:

I will only add one statistics for those who really want to claim there has been progress in Braddock of late. The latest poverty statistics released last month* show that the overall poverty rate of Braddock residents is 39.9% and for children under 18 no less than 66.2%. 

How should a journalist raise concerns about Rust Belt community struggles? I'm not all that concerned about the hype. For the most part, it is harmless and might do some good. As for the problems, they remain ill-defined and unsolvable as a result. And that goes for the restaurant venture as well. What problem does it address? I think we have skipped over the step of establishing a working baseline geography and thus the facts are made to fit the popular narrative. Braddock drowns in the hell that has become much of Rust Belt coverage in the press.

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