Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tennessean Reporter Does Not Live in a Neighborhood Like Salemtown

Tennessean reporter Janell Ross is not exactly getting high praise on the Salemtown e-mail list today about her anecdotal, overgeneralized story on North End crime. The general consensus seems to be that the article does not reflect the reality on the ground. We also found out that she lives in Germantown, which is probably the least racially and economically diverse neighborhood in the North End. And let's just say that I've tended to experience G-town attitudes toward S-town as jaded and distant to begin with.

I've e-mailed the reporter and asked her how many interview subjects she chose from Salemtown to write her story. She hasn't replied yet, but as far as I know there is only one convenience store on 7th and it is in Salemtown. 83% African American Salemtown. The Metro Neighborhood profiles online do not contain a demographic breakdown for Germantown, but I would be shocked if its population is anything but mostly white, predominantly upper-middle class. If Ms. Ross is relying largely on Germantown opinions about events around a Salemtown convenience store, then she is not getting a full or representative picture of the reality that is our community.

I also continue to be troubled by the way reporters like Ms. Ross ignore the systemic racism of white business owners who place blighted convenience stores that almost exclusively deal in alcohol and sell few other products that benefit the local community. The market property on 7th in Salemtown is owned by an unapologetic member of a powerful and well-placed Tennessee family, and it deals in scraps thrown from the masters' table to a predominantly African American neighborhood. Where is the journalist's coverage of that scandal?

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