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Midtown, good and bad

by Dan Barton
November 11, 2010 12:50 PM | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last Thursday’s Midtown community forum was a very interesting and educating experience. I left it feeling pretty good about what has been seen as the city’s “problem” neighborhood, and heartened that there was more community pride than a causal observer might assume.

Part of the discussion centered on the local media. It was good to get feedback on how Midtowners and those who serve them think it’s gotten a bad rap, suffering from an imbalance of media focusing on the bad things that happen and giving short (or no) shrift to the positive. Part of the reason why this happens is that most of the recent high-profile bad things that happen in Kingston do happen in Midtown, but certainly not all of them, and as documenters of reality, we are bound to say where such-and-so went down, no matter where it happened and irregardless of whatever sense of balance is hoped for. The other side of this coin is that along with the bad, a media outlet ought to pay some attention to the good as well, telling the stories of those who do the right thing and help their neighbors lead better lives.

One reason why this doesn’t happen as much as it should can be summed up in the phrase, “if it bleeds, it leads,” which refers to the historically strong response readers have to stories about violence. My inner optimist wishes this were not the case, but people tend to have more interest in bad news than good. In today’s hyper-competitive media environment, the temptation to go with whatever gets the most response from readers is hard to resist, especially if the media outlet cares more about the bottom line than what’s good for the community it ostensibly serves. And there is of course the basic journalistic responsibility to report the news.

In our paper this week, along with the story about the community forum runs the story about the apparent almost-million dollar EBT fraud at the Sunoco station. No, it doesn’t present the neighborhood in a great light, but it does shine a light on a major problem and one which is very likely won’t go away after one gas station is shut down.

As editor of this newspaper, I am keenly aware of the need and the responsibility to use the power I have to bring attention to good things happening in Midtown, and there are a lot — some very fine and dedicated people busting their tails to help that community rise to its challenges. While the Kingston Times is not (yet) the most widely read paper in town, we hope the positive stories we have done about Midtown and the people who love it has made the neighborhood feel a little better about itself and given credit where it is most certainly due. And we hope the less positive stories do some good as well, by talking about problems in a nuanced and intellectually honest way, so solutions can be found. In the meantime, feel free to hold us and the other media outlets which serve Midtown to account. Write letters to the editor, make comments on websites, pick up the phone and be heard.
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