On Sunday, July 13, 2014, The Washington Post printed a Metro story written by Mr. Robert Samuels, headlined "Idle chatter but no trust among our neighbors". This story centered on a survey of the District conducted by the National Conference on Citizenship. Mr. Samuels writes the survey concludes the District “would rank as the least neighborly in the nation.”
I am not challenging the facts of Mr. Samuels’ article as they come from the survey. I can also offer anecdotal instances of lax in neighborliness on the part of young new residents to the District. What I do fault is the weakness of Mr. Samuels to hold members of the news media similarly accountable.
Let me state it would be an untruth to state all of neighborhood "no trust" can be blamed on The Washington Post, just as it would be wrong for new District residents to believe all of District’s Democratic, particularly African-American political leadership is ineffective or lacks competence. You cannot substitute one lie with another lie to make either lie the truth.
Mr. Samuels’ article attempts to place the lack of trust among neighbors because long time District residents “…are bad neighbors.” It is clear what this negative reference is to convey. It is also clear how newsrooms story line decisions support no trust among neighbors.
But is the really about a failure of neighbors to trust people they do not know, just met, or the refusal of people to be polite, mannerly or to show people simple courtesy? Trust comes from having a reliable relationship with one another sustained over time. Politeness, good manners, and courtesy come from being raised properly by your parents or other elders in your life.
Sometimes it is called respecting one another. Moreover, no one should mistake being polite with being politically correct.
The editorial and newsroom tone of The Washington Post, as well as other newsroom outlets in the District leans heavily toward anti District of Columbia.
While writing about the gentrification of District neighborhoods, they ignore the similar gentrification among reporters/columnists and the people of the District. Would the District media have covered the New York mayoral campaign, the re-campaign of Rep. Charles Rangel (D) and the changing demographics of Harlem if they were actually happening in the District?
Although the survey ranks the District at the bottom regarding “trust of neighbors”, District residents are reported to be “…high engaged political activities compared to the rest of the nation.” The District is ranked “…1st in discussion of political issues, 4th in boycotting products due to social issues, and 4th in contact with officials.”
In her February 6, 2014 column, Ms. Jonette Rose Barras wrote about civic neighborliness and how people came together for the well-being of the District and all its residents. I would recommend this past article to Mr. Samuels.
When writing about no trust of District neighbors, Mr. Samuels, the managing editors, journalists, and columnists of The Washington Post and other District newsroom should think how their decisions foster and contribute to the lack of trust of District neighbors.
The social legacy and political dynamics of the District is more than what people have seen and experienced within the last three (3) to five (5) years. The richness of the District is not only from the millennial generation new to the District, but also the vitality and toughness of its longtime residents who did abandon the District – who stayed and fought to make the Nation’s Capital a home for everyone.
Whether reporting about trust or politeness among District residents, reporters should have some basic information if not experience or confusion.
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