Thursday, March 4, 2010

Scary ole Downtown

This is pretty much a residential property's worst nightmare - a resident gets shot on the property, followed by the media talking about how scary and dangerous the place is.  A lot of the quotes in the article are actually very positive about the property, which is the Pencil Factory Lofts just east of GSU on Decatur St. Residents call it "fairly quiet," say they never felt unsafe before, and that the incident is shocking.  Still, one guy has to pull the "hey, this is downtown" card, which is annoying, like you just sign up for this stuff, y'know?

My problem is that the article indicates the victim was a GSU student who was apparently shot by someone he knew.  The police think it might have involved selling drugs.  It isn't like this is some random drive by in the sketchy part of town, and "you better watch out, because you never know what could happen in this scary part of town."  The lesson is more, "don't hang out with drug dealers."

Maybe the AJC can focus less on what a scary place Downtown can be, and more on wtf a GSU student is doing selling drugs and hanging out with dudes that want to shoot him?  I'm not naive - this stuff goes on all the time at every college campus in the nation.  It went on at Michigan, and I'm sure it goes on at UGA.  I don't remember anyone getting shot, but there were plenty of drugs in Ann Arbor and plenty of drug dealers who were crazy enough to carry guns around.  But if the media is going to cover the story, maybe that's a better angle?

I suspect that GSU's location in a major metropolitan area (rather than simply in scary ole Downtown) means the professionalism of campus drug dealers is higher than at Michigan or UGA, and so guys with guns are more likely.  Either way, I'm not sure the emphasis on the perceived danger of the location is fair.

7 comments:

  1. Can we start an alterna-CAP?

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  2. I agree. Whenever I talk to people who live outside the perimeter, I mention I live in midtown and they go "OMG! I could never live in the city. I hear people are getting mugged at gun point left and right" Now I get to add getting shot outside your apartment to the list, awesome.

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  3. I'm glad I read your writeup before the one on AJC. I live nearby on edgewood, so it's the last thing I want to hear, but I will still feel safe walking around the neighborhood.

    No commentary on what a miserable development the pencil factory is? not to mention the new Auburn Point...

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  4. For a paper that decried the Bush administration's use of Iraq and 9/11 in the same sentence over and over again so they could make a connection while having denial of ever having said there is a connection, the AJC loves to play that game with crime, downtown and MARTA.

    Any crime that takes place within half a mile of a MARTA station ends up in the paper as "Shooting at XYZ MARTA Station". They just can't help themselves. It's non-stop with the AJC. Some have defended them doing this because MARTA station are landmarks but they recently used a MARTA bus depot in a crime story even though the crime had nothing to do with MARTA or the depot. How many people know the location of MARTA's bus depots? They can't use the "well known landmark" excuse there.

    When Atlantic Station opened, every crime in Home Park was headlined as being at Atlantic Station. Of course that all changed when a couple of Tech students got robbed off campus. Then all crime in Home Park (along with Centennial Place) was headlined as taking place at Georgia Tech.

    We also caught them using downtown as the location of Peachtree-Pine while gushing about events at the Civic Center in Midtown. Not sure how Midtown became south of downtown but with the AJC it is possible. I believe someone from the downtown neighborhood association ended up writing a letter and got them to stop reporting Peachtree-Pine as being downtown.

    BTW, what happened to our crime wave? As soon as the mayoral election ended, all the crime wave talk ended too. The change in reporting (and smug commentary by certain weekly alternative papers) makes me ask if we should not have elections since they apparently cause crime waves.

    It's amazing what "reporters" get away with in this town.

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  5. I don't want to endorse the idea that there is some conspiracy going on at the AJC to paint certain neighborhoods as bad, etc. - I think it is just an easy story to write from a familiar angle, and they are under deadline pressures, etc. It is probably pretty hard not to include something about the location in the story - it is a difficult location no matter if someone got shot.

    I guess I'm just saying it's easy to be a critic, and I didn't intend to completely denigrate the folks at the AJC.

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  6. I've been keeping track of this nonsense for eight years. You might not want to be a critic but I'll be one. After writing my post, I went to ajc.com to find an article about a women being stabbed to death in Centennial Place. The headline and several times in the story references Georgia Tech. Why not mention that it was close to Coca-Cola headquarters? That's a much more visible landmark and much more of a single point rather than a large area that is the Georgia Tech campus. Playing the casual connection game with a murder and a campus full of people's college age kids has a much more emotional impact than mentioning a corporate high rise.

    I don't think it is a conspiracy in the sense that they want to harm particular neighborhoods (though some of my neighbors disagree since Peachtree-Pine seemed to become part of downtown at the same time the AJC stopped being able to freely place their paper boxes wherever they pleased on downtown streets). I think it is simply an effort to sensationalize the news. They need to shape perceptions to guarantee return visits that generate advertisement views. There is no excuse for flip flopping Home Park, which is a neighborhood in its own right, between Atlantic Station and Georgia Tech depending on which fit the frightening narrative of the time.

    It's irresponsible and does have a negative impact on the community.

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