Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Letter I Wrote Janell Ross 24 Hours Ago; Still No Replies

Here's what I wrote Tennessean reporter Janell Ross yesterday about her regrettable story on crime and racial profiling in either Salemtown or Germantown or both:
In your story on "racial fears" on 7th Avenue, North yesterday, you referred to a market that residents call "Murder Mart." Which market did you mean? I can only think of one market on 7th, and it is in Salemtown. If that is the market to which you refer, is "Murder Mart" a name that your Germantown neighbors call it? and how many Salemtown residents did you interview who called it that? For that matter, how many Salemtown residents total did you interview?

I would like to publish your answers on my blog, Enclave, assuming your permission, of course. One of the things I've focused on in the past four years is irresponsible, lazy, and sensationalist journalism perpetuating stereotypes about our transitional area. My interest is not so much in whether journalists portray our neighborhood without warts, but whether journalists are factual, truthful, and objective in reporting the warts.

I saw no indication of reliable accuracy in Monday's piece. It was anecdotal, and it looks like your own filtered narrative on the polarity of suspicious whites vs. suspect African Americans (that is an exaggeration of what goes on Salemtown). Unless you can express how your reporting was unbiased, generalizable, and consistent with what actually happens in the North End on a regular basis among a critical mass of those who live here, I will continue to contest your printed riff on what you believe you see in this community.
No word from Janell Ross, yet. Letters were also sent to the Tennessean editors yesterday from other people in Salemtown without any acknowledgement. Apparently, the Tennessean feels no obligation to explain themselves for their indignities and the entitlement they feel to write anything they desire about Nashville's neighborhoods.

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