Cynical Synapse

Fri, 25 Sep 2009

Time in Detroit and the City’s Media Image

Filed under: Bailout, Behavior, Detroit, Life, Media, People, Sports — cynicalsynapse @ 3:39 pm

Detroit is the cover story of Time magazine’s October 5th issue. In fact, the city is the subject of a year-long project Time calls Assignment: Detroit. The magazine’s bought a house and already has a dozen or more stories on it’s website. Web reporters from,, and are participating, as are journalists from Fortune and Money.

Why such focused media attention on the D? Time says “Detroit has been misunderstood, underreported, stereotyped, avoided and exploited for decades.” They believe the Motor City’s rise, fall, and struggle to come back are representative of America’s challenges. They claim they “want Detroit to recover and find its way into the future.”

But, if that’s the case, why is Time‘s cover picture of the Packard plant, closed since 1956? How about the downtown skyline or maybe the stadium district for a positive spin?

Detroit is accustomed to negative attention from the media. Just look at the way the domestic automotive collapse was reported. I’m still waiting for the media to connect the automotive crisis with the financial fiasco. I’m still waiting for the media to heap loads of scorn on New York and Wall Street. I’m not, however, holding my breath.

As teamowens313 says, Detroit is “America’s most beautiful disaster…Icarus after the fall.” Even though other cities have political problems, Kwamegate put Detroit on national news. Hockeytown is a great sports town, with loyal fans even for the Lions after 19 straight losses. Fans for other teams in other cities—Penguins fans come to mind—get out of hand but they don’t go viral on the Internet:

The two girls in front of us were drunk before the game started. They grabbed one of our signs and trashed it (real classy) because were Vikings fans, and then spent most of the first half mocking us instead of watching the game because the Lions were ahead.

They left their seats and we thought they were gone for good but somehow they managed to buy even more beer and get back to their seats. They were spilling beer on themselves, the seats, and some of the other fans. After they spilled quite a bit of beer on the guys in the row below them, they turned around and told them to SIT DOWN. One girl didnt like that so she poured the rest of her beer on his head. Then I knew it was time to start the camera 🙂

So, will Time paint a positive portrait of Motown? “[W]e do not intend to be cheerleaders or apologists,” they say. But will they be honest? They will find Detroit is a gritty city and, as Ernie Harwell said, its people have grit. Let’s see which side of Detroit Time showcases.


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