Letter Submission to The Telegraph: WHY YOU MUST DO BETTER THAN A BLOTTER

Letter Submission to The Telegraph: WHY YOU MUST DO BETTER THAN A BLOTTER

(Note from Braden: This is something I wrote for the Macon paper that’s a little off topic for the website here.)

Each morning I’m not travelling, I stop by the street corner at The Telegraph’s main office.

I drop my six quarters in the box, pull out my newspaper.

Without fail, it’s there before 7 a.m., when I’m on my way to work. I’m grateful for that.

Then, I look at the front page, “What’s above the fold today??”

Much of the time, I’m disappointed. It’s a crime story. Does it have to be?

Come on team at The Telegraph. You must do better than a blotter. For all of us.

Take the recent “Dollar Store Thievery Trending Upward” story.

With all due respect to its writer, Ms. Corley, the story was about a trend that, while perhaps interesting, isn’t altogether useful for the at-large community to discover. Is it worthy of the front page? Isn’t there a story out there that would be more universally relevant and useful? Of course there is.

And this brings me to the true source of my growing disappointment in The Telegraph.

This “Thievery” story was essentially a rehashing of the police blotter over the last few months. It did little more than serve to perpetuate the perception Macon is a crime-ridden Gotham.

Look, Macon’s doing fine. More than fine, actually. It’s on the right track. The City’s crime situation has gotten markedly better than it was even three years ago, particularly downtown, where significant investment has been made. In 20 years we’re going to look back and ask ourselves, “What happened?” The stage is being set for some remarkable growth. I saw it where I grew up in Midtown Atlanta in the 1970s and 1980s. We’re going to see it here.

Just a few weeks ago Holly and I walked a few blocks down Poplar to where we were parked. It was near midnight on a Tuesday (gasp). While we were walking we both agreed that not so long ago we’d have NEVER considered walking the streets of downtown Macon at midnight. Remember 14th Street near Colony Square in Atlanta during the early 1980s? Kevlar anyone?

It is undeniable. The crime situation is improving in pockets of Macon. And, as more development comes, the number and size of these pockets of improvement will grow. The same thing has happened, and is happening, in Durham, NC as Duke University and its healthcare system has invested in the broader community. (Think Mercer University, Navicent and Coliseum.)

But, here’s the thing: all of this would likely happen faster if The Telegraph would shift away from so much of its “if it bleeds, it leads” story telling. Instead, tell the story that Macon’s improving and that’s the story people will hear. It’s common sense.

This, then, reporters and editors, is your intellectual challenge, and perhaps, too, your responsibility to our community: uncover and tell more of the stories about what is happening that we all WANT to happen here.

At the very least, get the crime stuff off the front page, unless it’s big and necessary.

This won’t be easy. The negative stuff is the low-hanging fruit. Just ask Liz Fabian, who appears, much of the time, to be calling her local law enforcement sources and changing the who, when and where in her boiler plate. She can do better. All of you can. I have seen it. We have all seen it. And, without question, Macon and our newspaper will be better for it. Thank you.

— Braden Copeland, Macon