Calling Out The ‘Dateline NBC’ Hatchet Job On Detroit


Hansen showed an older Detroiter who kills raccoons for his own consumption and also sells them to survive in the economically depressed climate. Lest we forget, Blacks were once referred to as “coons.”

When you portray a majority African-American city in such a decayed and animal-like manner and the only solution to the city, according to the report, is help from the suburbs, undercutting the efforts of groups and organizations based here that are working tirelessly, why won’t others call your reporting racist?

Why didn’t Hansen interview City Year Detroit, New Detroit Inc, City Connect Detroit, Detroit Parent Network, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Community Development Advocates of Detroit and many others? He could have talked to the Detroit Regional Chamber, the largest business group of its kind in the nation headquartered in Detroit.

Hansen could have sat down with Faye Nelson of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to find out what is being done to attract families to the downtown area in the summer months.

But interviewing these organizations would not make for a titillating interview for “Dateline.” It is not the kind of interview that will create a jaw-drop for his national audience which forces us to wonder what the editorial agenda of that reporting was?

In the last two years Detroit has seen two new hotels in the downtown area. The Book Cadillac Westin and the Doubletree hotels are signs that businesses are not giving up on Detroit.

One of the owners of the Doubletree, Emmett Moten, has been at the center of Detroit’s economic and political journey for decades. A former development czar for ex-mayor Coleman Young, and a once instrumental figure to the creation of the Illitch business empire in Detroit, Moten could have schooled Hansen about Detroit and where it is today.

So why did Hansen miss the developments of these two hotels in his reporting?

The Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau just struck a deal for Detroit to host the 2015 American Society of Association Executives conference, expected to generate $2.8 billion in revenue for this area.
Why was this important news development missing in the one-hour special?

Maybe the editors and producers of “Dateline NBC” do not see such developments important enough to merit inclusion in a report that puts a major city’s reputation and spirit at stake on the national stage.

In June of this year, Detroit will host the 2010 U.S. Social Forum, the gathering of activists, social justice advocates, progressive politicians and policy makers. This gathering will bring about 20,000 visitors to the city and generate a significant economic stimulus.

Yet Kid Rock tells “Dateline” that Detroit is a “ghost town” which is an insulting description by someone who professes to love the city. If Detroit is, as he said, a “ghost town,” why are major businesses and companies still here?

If Detroit is such an empty town to the extent that it is becoming unlivable as the “Dateline” report attempted to sell to its national audience, why are all the major universities in this region, University of Michigan,Wayne State University, Michigan State, enhancing their foothold on the city?

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What we witnessed in the “Dateline NBC” report is yet another example of the onslaught of pseudo-journalism and the handsome salaries paid to those who practice it.

Those who are concerned and have a stake in the terrible image that was presented about Detroit on “Dateline” cannot keep silent. They should respond vigorously and demand objective coverage by hurling piercing shards of fact, logic and history of the city’s present state.

When I look back on the reporting of Hansen, it seems like Grantling, the woman raising abandoned children, was used a pawn on a larger scheme to scare businesses, development and families away from the city.

But again, for those who are familiar with the different harbingers of the media evolution will know that this latest Hansen report is another reminder of journalism’s decay. That the true ideals of journalism are sacrificed for stories that are woefully lacking in facts and balance.


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