Look, Ma, I’m Famous! – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Look, Ma, I’m Famous!


Ok, not really. But you can sort of see me, right?

Yesterday I got to attend a press conference at which representatives from the Detroit Police Department, Michigan Department of Corrections, and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research spoke about a community initiative program that was piloted in Grandmont-Rosedale a year ago.

From about the ages of 8-13, I wanted to be a TV news anchor, so I was thrilled for the opportunity. The conference was everything I wanted it to be – a podium, reporters going back and forth with the speakers, and even a press huddle at the end with the police chief!

What I found most interesting was the actual media coverage of the event. It was clear from their questions that none of the reporters knew what the community police initiative actually was. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, except when I got back to the office, I googled the Manhattan Institute, and all of the information was within three clicks. I felt that some of those reporters could have scanned through the fact sheets and proposals on their smartphones while they were waiting for the conference to start so that they could ask real questions. Instead, their questions barely scratched the surface. When they did ask specific question, it was in an attempt to uncover a salacious detail or negative reaction.

“Did the city of Detroit pay the Manhattan Institute? If so, how much and why did they find this necessary?”

(No, none, and not applicable)

“Is morale especially low today after the Emergency Manager ended the union’s contract?”

(This has NOTHING to do with what we are talking about.)

I get it, scandal sells. Plus, reporters want to make sure to get all sides of a story, not just what is fed to them. Yet only two out of the five written articles actually addressed the content of the conference (Kudos to the Detroit Free Press and Michigan Radio!). The other three news outlets chose to focus on the incoming police chief instead.

It is undeniable that citizens would like information regarding their new police chief. However, in a city where crime is high and residents feel unsafe, it is pretty important to publish stories regarding successful crime prevention. And this initiative was REALLY successful, guys! Click here and here if you want to read more about it.


Photo Credits: MLive

2 thoughts on “Look, Ma, I’m Famous!”

  1. You’d be such a great reporter/news anchor, Niki! I always forget the huge bummer of the fact that news comes from people who don’t always intend on serving the public as best as possible. I’m glad the Free Press did a decent job covering the info!

    1. Haha thanks Caroline! But I agree, it’s a problem that any media provider has to compete for reader/viewership and ratings. So even when there might be a great story to report, they know that their audience is more likely to click on a “juicier” headline or soundbite. I am definitely part of the problem, as I am always inclined to read the more scandalous, fun, or crazy stories. I have to actively remind myself to not self-select my news input quite so much…but it’s hard!

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