My very good friend Sara came to visit from New York last month. Sara is an award-winning Danish journalist whose extensive reporting on New York’s Stop-and-Frisk policies has been published in a number of outlets, including The Atlantic and AJA. Her two-week visit was part work, part play.
I was reminded of her visit and this photo a few days ago, when I posted a photo on social media of Alfie and me on a morning walk standing in front of a large, tagged, abandoned building – just a few minutes’ walk away from home. The post provoked mixed reactions. Specifically, one of my Detroit acquaintances was angry for the ruin porn representation of the city I was blasting to the outside world.
Avoiding to mindlessly fall into cliche is one of the main jobs a journalist has, I believe. In this city, which is going through such an extreme time, you have to constantly watch yourself. Sometimes reality challenges stereotypes, sometimes a snapshot of reality will confirm them. To the extent that it is possible, the job is to question and document, never to twist or spin.
“The more I spend time here, the more I feel like it’s so complex,” Sara confided in me towards the end of her trip.