Sara the Danish Reporter

Sara the Danish Reporter

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.

Advertisements

Al Guards the Packard Plant

Al Guards the Packard Plant

Al famously lives inside the Packard Plant, an abandoned automobile factory, which stretches across 40 acres on Detroit’s east side. He is its unofficial caretaker and drives around in a white minibus.

Al is full of stories.

“When I was young, kids used to come into the city, wreak havoc, and then get the hell out.”

“But now, with all the nonsense that is being published in the media, nobody’s coming anymore. The kids in the suburbs are too scared.”